CINCINNATI — Before they were in the NFL, Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin and Indianapolis Colts safety Rodney Thomas II were teammates at Central Catholic High School in Pittsburgh.
The two won a state title in 2015. Hamlin was drafted in 2021 and Thomas was the following year.
"If you just look at who he is, he’s a great person ... he took me under his wing. Just a bunch of things, he’s always looked out for me," Thomas said.
Thomas said he and Damar talk daily and had talked on Monday before the game. Rodney traveled to Cincinnati by himself to visit Hamlin soon after the game was suspended.
He had a chance to see Hamlin for a few moments, and also visit with the Bills safety's family. Hamlin remains hospitalized in Cincinnati as medical teams continue monitoring his situation.
"It calmed me down just being able to get eyes on him. Just because, being away, it’s all like what’s going on?" Thomas said. "I just wanted to go there, I just wanted to be there and I just wanted to be understanding of what was going on ... I just made sure to stay calm, figure out what’s going on and then all right, this is where he’s at, this is what I can do and this is where I can be."
Thomas says he's playing for Hamlin and what he represents. He described his friend as "the most genuine person that you could ever come across."
"I've known that guy [Hamlin] probably since he was about 12. Just got a lot of respect and love for him as a human being [and] his commitment to the pursuit of his goals and dreams," Pittsburgh Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin said.
Colts Interim Head Coach Jeff Saturday called the situation "horrific" and says the Colts organization is sending thoughts and prayers to Hamlin with the hopes he has a full recovery.
On Wednesday, Colts owner Jim Irsay became the top donor to Hamlin's GoFundMe for his organization, The Chasing M's Foundation. Irsay and the Colts donated $25,003
Indiana Pacers player T.J. McConnell is also showing his support for #3.