Steelers HC Mike Tomlin shares personal connection with Bills safety Damar Hamlin

A number of NFL teams postponed their scheduled press availability on Tuesday out of respect for Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin, who suffered a cardiac arrest after making a tackle during Monday night’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals. Hamlin remains in critical condition at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center’s intensive care unit, the Bills announced Tuesday afternoon.

Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin spent part of his scheduled news conference on Tuesday sharing his personal connection with Hamlin, whom Tomlin said he’s known since Hamlin “was about 12.”

“It’s a really personal thing for me being a Pittsburgher and that young man being a Pittsburgher,” Tomlin said of Hamlin, who’s from nearby McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania, and played collegiately at the University of Pittsburgh.

“I’ve known that guy probably since he was about 12. Just got a lot of respect and love for him as a human being, his commitment to the pursuit of his goals and dreams of doing what it is he’s doing right now, which is playing in the NFL. To watch him make personal decisions and make that a realization, it’s just an honor to get to know young people like that. I had an opportunity to express that to him whenever I see him.”

The Bills selected Hamlin in the sixth round of the 2021 NFL Draft. Buffalo, coached by Tomlin’s college teammate Sean McDermott, has played the Steelers twice since Hamlin entered the NFL.

“We’ve played Buffalo each of the last two seasons, and he and I get to have a moment because it’s just cool to not only appreciate these guys in terms of where they are now, but to know them since they were younger people and to watch their maturation, their development, to watch them earn what they’ve been chasing, it’s just really a cool thing and he’s an example of that,” Tomlin said.

“I got a lot of love for that young man. We lifted him and that organization up in prayer. Reached out to Sean McDermott to lend whatever assistance I could. But I don’t have a lot to add other than that. I just respect the fact that you guys appreciate how personal it is for me, not only for me, but just for all of us as people that thrive in this space. That’s obviously something that you never want to see.”

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