Bills' Damar Hamlin offers up thanks in video: 'I can't tell you how appreciative I am'

Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin took to Instagram on Saturday to offer his thanks to a whole host of people in his first extensive comments since he collapsed and went into cardiac arrest on the field during a Monday Night Football game on Jan. 2.

"Now that my brothers have closed out a strong winning season, as I continue to make so much progress recovering, I think it's finally a good time to share a few things," Hamlin said in a post captioned "From the Heart."

"I think it was important for me to wait and speak publicly at the right time as it was just a lot to process within my own self mentally, physically, even spiritually. It's just been a lot to process, but I can't tell you how appreciative I am of all the love, all the support and everything that's just been coming in my way.

"What happened to me on Monday Night Football I feel is a direct example of God using me as a vessel to share my passion and my love directly from my heart with the entire world. And now I'm able to give it back to kids and communities all across the world who need it the most, and that's always been my dream. That's always been what I stood for and what I will continue to stand for."

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Hamlin then thanked several groups of people.

First, was the Bills' training staff, including Denny Kellington, who performed CPR on the field. Hamlin thanked the first responders and staff at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, where he was taken and stayed after leaving Paycor Stadium, and Buffalo General Hospital, where he was transferred to on Jan. 9.

Hamlin then thanked his family and friends: "To my mom and my dad, who are literally my anchors and my everything who never left my side the entire time. To my little bro, who is my why. My reason why I strive to be my best self every day. And to all my family and friends who supported me in many ways during this time, whether it was showing up for visits, or just a single text just to see how I was doing."

The 24-year-old also gave a shoutout to Bills Mafia.

"I just want to thank you so much for the genuine love and support," Hamlin said to the fans. "With this happening to me, I didn't feel anything short of the love and it really helped me stay encouraged to get through the toughest moments and the toughest times. I really can't thank you enough."

Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin posted a thank-you message on Instagram on Saturday.
Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin posted a thank-you message on Instagram on Saturday.

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Hamlin thanked the Bills organization, including "my brothers who made it a priority to lift me up spiritually, mentally and in every way possible. Reaching out every day, seeing how I was doing. Calling, texting, just checking up on me, no matter the situation. I'm proud to be part of this team, I'm proud to be able to call you guys my brothers."

Hamlin then thanked the city of Cincinnati, the Bengals and the rest of the NFL "for putting team allegiance aside to root for one kid's life and just the humanity of a player that's wearing Buffalo Blue. You put humanity above team loyalty. You showed the world unity over division. I'm not surprised by it but I'm deeply grateful and I'll be forever thankful and indebted for that."

He also thanked the children who sent him "letters and heartwarming gifts."

"You mean the world to me. You made my day, every day. You inspire me to keep dreaming big and to just continue to keep helping make this world a better place."

Hamlin also thanked those who donated to his "Chasing M's" foundation, which saw donations exceed $8 million in the wake of his collapse.

"While I'm so thankful to everybody, I know that it isn't enough just to be thankful. This is just the beginning of the impact that I wanted to have on the world and with God's guidance I will continue to do wonderful and great things. I couldn't do this without any of the support and the love and I can't wait to continue to take y'all on this journey with me," Hamlin concluded, making a heart with his hands.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Damar Hamlin shows his appreciation in moving video message