NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — New Orleans Saints head coach opened Wednesday’s press conference by voicing support for Damar Hamlin and his family after his life-threatening collapse during Monday night’s game between the Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals.
“I think everybody, you know, really still has a heavy heart in terms of what’s going on with Damar Hamlin fighting for his life in Cincinnati. Obviously, our thoughts and prayers of our entire organization are with him, his family, the Bills, really the entire football league,” says New Orleans Saints head coach Dennis Allen.
Allen says the Saints opened their meeting today with psychologist, Dr. Lana Chambliss, who spoke with the team about the Hamlin situation and resources available to help them cope through this tough time.
“Us as men and probably particularly, you know, football players and big, tough, strong, you know, it’s okay to admit if you need a little bit of help,” said Allen. “So, I just think it’s important to have those resources available for guys that that that want to be able to utilize that.”
Allen was a football player at Texas A&M in 1991 when placekicker, James Glenn, collapsed on the field before practice and later died of heart failure.
Allen has seen first-hand what impact a traumatic situation like this can have on a football team and program.
“I’m sure that everybody that’s involved in this is, you know, dealing with a lot. You know, and so I just I just reached out via text to Sean (McDermott) and just let him know that, you know, myself, you know, our entire organization is thinking about him,” says Allen.
Since Damar Hamlin’s collapse, there has been an out-pouring of support and donations to his fundraiser “The Chasing M’s Foundation Community Toy Drive.”
The drive’s original goal was to raise $2,500 to provide toys to kids in need.
As of Wednesday afternoon, the fundraiser had gained over $6.5 million dollars in donations.
New Orleans Saints quarterback Andy Dalton’s $3,000 donation was included in that number.
“The Bills fan base and just a lot of people, the support of Buffalo, have donated to my foundation through a win. Now, this is something completely different. This is a tragedy that something happened. So, one way is to show it, one way to show our supporters we wanted to give back, I mean, in a way that we can,” says New Orleans Saints quarterback Andy Dalton.
The Buffalo Bills fan base donated over $400,000 to Dalton’s charity after Dalton and the Cincinnati Bengals defeated the Baltimore Ravens in the 2017-18 season, helping the Bills end a 17-year playoff drought.
“When it happened to us, it started off as a small increments. The next thing you know, it was thousands of dollars, and then it got into tens of thousands of dollars, into hundreds of thousands of dollars and that was for us. To see this thing get to in the millions and continue to grow. I think it’s something that I mean, just shows that there’s so many people that want to support and love on him and his family and everything that they’re doing and know that,” says Dalton.
The Andy and JJ Dalton Foundation was established to provide resources and experiences to “seriously ill and physically challenged children and their families.”