Bills' Hamlin thanks fans in first message since cardiac arrest

NFL: Cleveland Browns at Buffalo Bills
Nov 20, 2022; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin warms up before a game against the Cleveland Browns at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Lon Horwedel-USA TODAY Sports

Jan 7 (Reuters) - Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin on Saturday thanked his fans for all their support in his first message just days after suffering a cardiac arrest during a game and asked that they keep praying for his recovery.

Hamlin collapsed after making a tackle on Monday against the host Cincinnati Bengals during a nationally televised game and had to have his heartbeat restored on the field, but has made remarkable strides since.

"Putting love into the world comes back 3xs as much ... thankful for everyone who has reached out and prayed. This will make me stronger on the road to recovery, keep praying for me!" Hamlin tweeted.

After receiving medical treatment on the field while stunned players from both teams cried, prayed and hugged, the 24-year-old Hamlin was taken by ambulance to University of Cincinnati Medical Center, where he remains.

Hamlin began to wake up two days later and has had his breathing tube removed. He surprised team mates on Friday during a video call in which he said, "Love you, boys," flexed his biceps and flashed a heart symbol with his hands.

In the most recent health update provided by the Bills earlier on Saturday, the team described Hamlin's neurological function as "excellent," but said he remains in critical condition.

Hamlin's message was posted during a game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Las Vegas Raiders in which players wore "Love for Damar 3" T-shirts in support of the Bills player during their warmups.

"This week it's been hard for a lot of guys," Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes said after the game. "But to have him being able to talk and be able to be with his family, it gave us that motivation that we can come out here and still enjoy this game that we all love.

"Hopefully, he can continue to get better and better and know that we are all still praying for him. We all send love to him and hopefully he is back on the field sooner rather than later."

Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Leslie Adler

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