INDIANAPOLIS (BVM) – Indianapolis Colts safety Rodney Thomas II drove over 100 miles (from Indianapolis to Cincinnati) to be beside his longtime friend and high school teammate Damar Hamlin. The Buffalo Bills safety suffered a cardiac arrest on the field at Paycor Stadium on Monday and was rushed to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center after receiving CPR by team medical trainers and doctors.
“It calmed me way down,” Thomas said on Wednesday, speaking in the Colts’ locker room about seeing Hamlin. “It made the trip home a lot easier. I could go home and know he’s gonna be straight, I got him, we all got him, everybody’s behind him. You see what’s going on, everybody’s behind him.”
#Colts safety Rodney Thomas and Damar Hamlin were high school teammates. Thomas drove to Cincinnati to visit his friend in the hospital. Rodney says they are very close – talking almost every day.
— Anthony Calhoun 📺 (@ACwishtv) January 4, 2023
Hamlin remains in critical condition as of Sunday afternoon but the Bills said Thursday that there had been a “remarkable improvement” in his health in addition to doctors saying the safety’s “neurological condition and function is intact.” The team tweeted on Friday that Hamlin’s breathing tube had been removed which led to him being able to join a team meeting via FaceTime and by Saturday, the Bills safety was on Instagram thanking the world for the love and support he’s received.
Hamlin T-shirts, signs and jersey patches featuring his name and number 3 were seen across the NFL on Sunday, but in Indianapolis, Thomas II had a tribute of his own.
— NFL (@NFL) January 8, 2023
After intercepting a pass (his third of the season) from Houston Texans quarterback Davis Mills on Sunday, Thomas II brought the ball to the 30-yard line which had the number 3 highlighted in red to honor Hamlin. The Colts safety posed with teammates in celebration and made a heart with his hands, a Hamlin signature.
Thomas II and Hamlin met at Central Catholic High School in Pittsburgh where they became teammates and close friends. The safety pair talk almost every day and even communicated prior to Monday night’s game in Cincinnati.
— 𝐃𝐚𝐦𝐚𝐫 𝐇𝐚𝐦𝐥𝐢𝐧 (@HamlinIsland) January 8, 2023
Despite the interception from Thomas II, the Colts fell to the Texans, 32-31, to end their season at 4-12-1. Meanwhile, Hamlin’s Bills honored him with a 35-23 win over the New England Patriots, highlighted by two kick return touchdowns from Nyhiem Hines, including the opening kickoff.
Being able to see Hamlin in person and hold his hand helped put Thomas II’s mind at ease heading into Sunday’s season finale. And after seeing him, there’s no doubt in Thomas II’s mind that Hamlin will be able to leave Cincinnati and return home.
“No doubt in my mind,” Thomas said on Wednesday. “He’s a fighter. No other thought in my mind of him walking out under his own power.”