ORCHARD PARK, New York | Of course, on the eve of the start of the playoffs, Damar Hamlin’s locker in the Bills’ locker room remains unoccupied except for his personal belongings, then a few packages and presents await him. No doubt, however, because his presence is palpable.
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There are still many billboards with the number 3 and the message “Love for Damar” in Buffalo and around Highmark Stadium in Orchard Park.
With such a tight-knit community gathered around his team ahead of Sunday’s playoff game against the Dolphins, a disturbing incident like Hamlin’s touched the hearts of the community.
The effect is multiplied in the Bills’ dressing room, who shared Hamlin’s everyday life for several months before he had to fight to thwart the Grim Reaper’s plans.
Earlier this week, Hamlin was discharged from the hospital in Cincinnati and then Buffalo to return home. His teammates were able to offload a huge weight ahead of the start of the playoffs.
“It feels good to know that Damar is back home with his parents. Now it’s time, as his father often told us, to do our job,” head coach Sean McDermott said at a news conference.
“D-Ham is at home, we can now work stress-free. All of our energy is on the game now,” said blocker Dion Dawkins.
Last Sunday, in the final game of the regular season against the Patriots, Nyheim Hines shook the stadium when he returned the first kickoff for a touchdown before doing it again in the third quarter.
When Le Journal visited him at his locker on Friday, the hero of the moment didn’t hide the fact that it had been day and night as far as the mood in the team was concerned over the past few days.
“Having good news again this week really helped us. All of that strain is letting us know more and more that he’s becoming himself again,” chuckled the former Colts.
“When we came back from Cincinnati, it was so hard. Before I was here, I was in the locker room of a team that missed the playoffs at the last moment or a team that was eliminated in the playoffs and I’ve never experienced such silence. We are very happy to know Damar healthy and at home,” he added.
Driven by emotions
Now that all of Hamlin’s wishes have been granted, the Bills believe the wave of emotions they experienced could carry the team.
“From the outside, people don’t realize we’re human until we’re players. Emotion and dynamism can win us many games,” said Hines.
This season, the city of Buffalo took it because of their common cold. Long before the Hamlin case, the community was dominated by racially motivated killings. At the end of December, a snowstorm in the region also claimed at least 39 lives.
“If any team has stood the test this season, it’s ours,” remarked Safety Dean Marlowe.
“It shows the whole character of our organization, top to bottom. We play for each other and don’t want to let each other down. »
The Bills have never won the Super Bowl and haven’t played in the big game since the 1993 season. This is a balm that would soothe many wounds.
SUPER BOWL HOPES
Beware Josh Allen
Early favorites to win the Super Bowl, the Bills have done nothing to dampen expectations this season, posting a record 13 wins and three losses. Expectations for Buffalo haven’t been this high since the early 1990s, when the franchise was in its heyday. Quarterback Josh Allen keeps a cool head despite everything. “One must not allow oneself to be distracted by external expectations. As a team we know our goals internally and they are still accessible in front of us. It all starts against the dolphins. Of course, the Super Bowl is our ultimate goal, but right now our only goal is 1 p.m. Sunday,” he said.
FIRST TEAM STARS
Matt Milano honored
During the Bills’ practice, the players who earned a spot on the NFL’s All-Star teams were announced. Bill’s linebacker Matt Milano found himself in the First Constellation for the first time. You should have seen the joy on the players’ faces as they returned to the dressing room and heard the news. With loud shouts of “Lanooooooooo” many marched to his locker to congratulate him. Defensive end AJ Epenesa even played the joke and begged him to sign his shirt. There are playful locker rooms and there is the Bills locker room. This team seems particularly united.
THIRD DUEL AT THE DOLPHINS
Like a date…
Because the Bills and Dolphins are divisional rivals, they’ve already crossed paths and shared game honors twice this season. This third one-off duel will decide who advances to the next round of eliminations, and blocker Dion Dawkins used the context to draw a colorful comparison between rivalry and… dating. “When you’re dating someone for the third time, you should know what he or she likes. In this step, you need to know if this person prefers a Lemon Drop or a Shirley Temple. This will be our third “date”, you know? I hope we can bring her home,” he said in an analogy that was just explicit enough.