John Petrishen: ‘Gifted’ Damar Hamlin is a ‘great human being’, says former college teammate



Damar Hamlin’s former high school and college teammate John Petrishen said the Buffalo Bills’ safety work ethic goes hand in hand with him being a “good person.”

Petrishen, who played with Hamlin at both Pittsburgh Central Catholic and the University of Pittsburgh, told CNN that in addition to being “gifted” on the court, Hamlin is a “great human being.”

“People tend to forget that underneath the helmet and jersey is a human being and that Damar Hamlin is a wonderful human being,” Petrishen said. “I played with him for three years in high school and then for two years in college.

A Pennsylvania native, Hamlin joined the Bills in 2021 as a sixth-round pick (212th overall) out of the University of Pittsburgh.

Prior to that, he won a Pennsylvania State Championship while at Central Catholic High School in Pittsburgh in 2015, leading the team to a 15-1 record as one of the highest-rated defensemen. of State.

“And we’re friends, teammates, he’s my brother,” Petrishen added. “He’s a great person and someone you can always count on to do things the right way.

“He leads by example, he is the perfect role model for young children, he gives back to his community; it ticks all the boxes. He’s a great person.

After suffering cardiac arrest mid-game on Monday, Hamlin remains sedated on a ventilator as doctors work to get him to breathe on his own, according to an update from the player’s uncle.

Hamlin, 24, suffered cardiac arrest and collapsed on the field during the first quarter of Monday night’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals, his team said, a moment that left players crying, praying and kissing as their teammate was taken away by ambulance.

Hamlin fell to his back moments after getting up from an open-field tackle by Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins. We still don’t know what caused the cardiac arrest.

Within 10 seconds of Hamlin’s collapse, the Bills team coaches were processing him. An ambulance was on the ground within five minutes, footage shows, and he received CPR, according to an ESPN broadcast.

“Hamlin received immediate medical attention on the ground from an independent medical team and personnel and local paramedics. He was subsequently transported to a local hospital where he is in critical condition,” the NFL said in a statement.

Hamlin’s collapse left the players distraught – in tears, kneeling with their arms around each other before heading back to their dressing rooms. The game was suspended with nearly six minutes left in the first quarter and was later officially postponed.

Petrishen explained he was on a flight when Hamlin collapsed, saying he got off the plane for “a few hundred text messages” sending Hamlin prayers and checking on Petrishen.

The former college linebacker recalls coming up through the ranks with Hamlin, during which time the two formed a bond.

He also remembers housing Hamlin at Penn State during his time in college when Hamlin considered joining.

Damar Hamlin (3) and John Petrishen (0) lead Pittsburgh to face Austin Peay Governors at Heinz Field in 2020. Pittsburgh won 55-0.

“I would say he’s someone who leads by example with class. He’s not the most vocal person…people rely on him to do things the right way,” Petrishen pointed out.

“He has a great work ethic, he’s a great character, he leads from the front of the pack and people can look up to him and know that what he’s doing they can follow him. He’s a good leader. Like I said, he leads by example. You always know what you’re going to get from Damar.

“He comes across as the same person every day, he always tries hard, in football and in life. He’s a light in the room, he’s a good person to be around.

At Pittsburgh Central Catholic, Hamlin’s jersey hangs in the weight room. And his high school coach, Terry Totten, described Hamlin as a “quiet leader” for athleticism.

“Someone who was willing to cross all boundaries to be a respected member of the school community,” Totten said.

In a statement, University of Pittsburgh head football coach Pat Narduzzi called Hamlin “much more than just a football player.”

“He is a loving son, brother and friend. Damar is a hero to thousands of Pittsburgh kids,” Narduzzi said.

“Damar, we love you. We’re praying for you. Pittsburgh has always had your back. And now it’s obvious the whole country has your back too.

This season has been a breakthrough for Hamlin, playing every game after injuries to the Bills’ defensive backfield. According to ESPN, the safety recorded 91 total tackles, 1.5 sacks, one forced fumble and two passes defended in 15 games as the Bills (12-3) lead the AFC East standings.

Petrishen says he is “proud” of the growth Hamlin has shown over the years and the success it has brought him.

“He’s grown so much over the years and it’s great to see him get his chance in the NFL this year because he’s worked really hard and he deserves it,” Petrishen said.

“He is obviously very gifted but he worked for it. He earned everything he received and no one can ever take it away from him.

“So I’m really proud of what he’s achieved this year and all the opportunities that have come his way because he deserves it.”



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