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A friend of Damar Hamlin's family shares the NFL player's condition


The Buffalo Bills, the National Football League and the entire country have been waiting on updates on the condition of defensive back Damar Hamlin after he collapsed last night in a nationally televised game against the Cincinnati Bengals. We know that he took a hit, suffered cardiac arrest, had his heartbeat restored on the field and then was rushed to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center. That's where he remained this afternoon.

For the latest, I'm joined by his marketing representative and friend, Jordon Rooney. Jordon, welcome. And I'm really sorry that we're talking under these circumstances.

JORDON ROONEY: Yeah. Yeah. Thanks for having me.

SUMMERS: I'd like to start by just asking you if there's anything you can share with us about how Damar Hamlin is doing now.

ROONEY: Yeah, there's no medical updates at this time - still monitoring things hour by hour, day by day.

SUMMERS: So to the best of your knowledge, can you help us understand what happened after Damar Hamlin collapsed on the field during that game last night?

ROONEY: I - guys, I can't speak to any of the medical facts of the situation.

SUMMERS: Sure. One detail that I've heard you share elsewhere is that he was awake as he was being taken off the field. Is that accurate?

ROONEY: No, no. What I said was that he - they got him in stable - they had - his vitals were stable...


ROONEY: ...After he was given CPR.

SUMMERS: Sure. Hamlin's family released a statement earlier today expressing their gratitude to the medical staff who have been caring for him, both in the immediate aftermath as well as those caring for him at University of Cincinnati Medical Center. They also offered their thanks for the support being offered by fans. Can you talk to us about what that outpouring has been like?

ROONEY: Yeah. I think the - you know, it's certainly a tough time for the family. I think things like that make things just a little bit easier. They've been so overwhelmed in a positive way from the outpouring of support of everyone - people donating money, reaching out, nice gestures. I mean, they're just extremely, extremely grateful.

SUMMERS: I know that he had set up a GoFundMe prior to this incident for a toy drive for his foundation. I was speaking with our sports correspondent, Tom Goldman, and he said more than $4 million have poured in already. Is that right?

ROONEY: Yeah. He actually set it up in 2020. So he has a toy drive every year. And before he was getting an NFL contract, he was using - he used GoFundMe to try and raise some money for it. And I think when this injury happened, everyone was looking for something to donate to. And that was the only thing that came up. But it still goes to a good cause 'cause he has his Chasin M's Foundation, where he's focused on helping young people achieve their dreams. So he does the toy drive. He does youth football camps. He does a back-to-school drive. And, I mean, now - I mean, you know, the possibilities are endless. He honestly - like, he's going to be so excited when he sees that GoFundMe.

SUMMERS: You know, I'm wondering if you can just tell me - this is someone you work with professionally. This is your friend. Can you tell me a little bit about him as a person; who he is, what he means to the Bills, what he means to his family?

ROONEY: Yeah. I mean, you know, you can see just in the people who have known Damar and how this has impacted them, I mean, he is someone that - you know, he's charismatic. He has a great personality. He can make you laugh. He knows how to turn it on and, you know, be a very personable person. He keeps to himself. But then, you know, when young kids are around or other people, like, he's someone that, like, I say, like, sacrifices however he feels in that moment to make everyone around him feel welcome, which is something you don't get a lot of time from professional athletes.

SUMMERS: Yeah. And he also seems to be someone who just really loves the game, too.

ROONEY: Yeah. I mean, and a part of it, too - yeah, he loves football, but, like, he's very emotionally intelligent. So for him, I think it's, like, a challenge. It's, like, problem-solving in a way.

SUMMERS: I understand that some members of his family were in the stands at last night's game. I can't imagine what this has been like for them. How are they doing? Are they a close family?

ROONEY: Yeah. I mean, this - yeah. His family is the closest. They're strong. He has a very, very strong support system. They're optimistic.

SUMMERS: That is Jordon Rooney, friend and marketing representative for Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin. Jordon, thank you for sharing with us today.

ROONEY: Thanks for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Juana Summers is a political correspondent for NPR covering race, justice and politics. She has covered politics since 2010 for publications including Politico, CNN and The Associated Press. She got her start in public radio at KBIA in Columbia, Mo., and also previously covered Congress for NPR.