Damar Hamlin Attends 'Masked Singer' Taping ... First Public Speaking Appearance

Damar Hamlin was a special guest at a taping for "The Masked Singer" Tuesday night ... marking the Buffalo Bills safety's first public speaking appearance since his medical emergency last month.

TMZ Sports has obtained pictures from the set of the taping ... showing the 24-year-old holding a football and smiling on stage alongside host Nick Cannon, with his name in big red letters on the screen behind him.

Hamlin made his first public appearance at the Bills vs. Cincinnati Bengals game on Jan. 22 ... but while he was present to show support for his team, he did not speak to the media.

Waiting for your permission to load the Instagram Media.

Hamlin has since posted videos on his social media -- thanking his supporters and kickstarting a CPR challenge campaign with the American Heart Association -- so this is believed to be the first time he has spoken in public since the Monday Night Football game on Jan. 2.

TMZ INVESTIGATES

We're told Hamlin attended the taping alongside his young brother, Damir, who's a big fan of the show ... and he wanted to come along to check out the action.

Season nine of "The Masked Singer" airs Feb. 15 on FOX ... and it's safe to say Bills Mafia will be tuning in to check out their beloved player.

Damar Hamlin Partners With American Heart Association ... To Promote CPR Training

Damar Hamlin is kickstarting a campaign to spread CPR awareness and training following his on-field medical scare earlier this month ... teaming up with the American Heart Association to create the "3 For Heart" challenge.

The Buffalo Bills safety announced the move in an Instagram video ... saying, "Once again, I want to thank everybody for their love and support over these past few weeks."

"As you know, CPR saved my life earlier this year on the field, and CPR could easily save your life or someone you love."

Waiting for your permission to load the Instagram Media.

To help the raise awareness for the procedure, Hamlin and the AHA came up with the social media campaign ... which includes three steps: learn hands-only CPR, donate to the AHA to fund CPR awareness and education, and challenge three people to do the same.

Hamlin started the movement by calling out Tom Brady, LeBron James and Michelle Obama to get involved.

As we previously reported, the medical staffers who immediately took action and performed CPR on Hamlin during Monday Night Football were credited with saving his life after suffering cardiac arrest on the field on Jan. 2.

Waiting for your permission to load the Instagram Media.

Hamlin has been on the road to recovery ever since ... and continues to improve by the day.

TMZ INVESTIGATES

The 24-year-old spoke on camera for the first time over the weekend ... thanking his fans and supporters for all the love directed his way in the weeks following the medical scare.

Damar Hamlin Speaks on Camera for First Time ... Since Emergency Incident

Damar Hamlin is speaking to the public for the first time on camera since his life-threatening health scare on the field -- and he has a lot to say ... including a ton of thank-yous.

The Bills safety posted a video Saturday, where he's sitting down and venting his thoughts in his own words ... and it's pretty touching. He describes the terrifying hit he took on MNF as somewhat of a blessing -- saying he feels as though it served as a vessel to inspire others.

Waiting for your permission to load the Instagram Media.

DH says he believes, through that tough time, he was able to put his passion for the game of football on display ... which he thinks will serve others going forward, especially kids.

He also thinks this was a great example of humanity over everything ... with all teams across the NFL coming together to support Damar through his healing journey. Damar also heaped a lot of gratitude and praise for several individuals ... starting with the Bills medical staff.

1/2/23
RUSHED OFF THE FIELD
TMZSports.com

Damar went down the list of team doctors and personnel who were on the field that day and worked on him ... rendering CPR and other life-saving measures. He went on to thank the doctors at the hospitals he was at, his teammates, Bills Mafia at large and the NFL as well.

Of course, he gave a nod to everyone who was sending him well-wishes ... including the folks who donated millions of dollars to his toy drive. Damar says it helped him recover.

Damar has been vocal online since his incident, supporting his guys both from his hospital bed and even in person last week -- tweeting out words of encouragement along the way.

It's pretty incredible to see how far he's come since nearly losing his life ... a true miracle.

Eagles' Miles Sanders Rocks Damar Hamlin Tribute Cleats At Practice ... Bills Safety Approves!!!

PAYIN' TRIBUTE
Instagram / @boobiemilesxxiv

The Bills might be now outta the playoffs -- but the Damar Hamlin tributes are still pouring in ... this time, Eagles running back Miles Sanders rocked some spikes to honor the injured safety, and he loved 'em!!

The 25-year-old tailback showed off the feet heat on his Instagram page Thursday ... and the pair of tribute shoes are awesome.

One cleat features a portrait of Hamlin surrounded by a heart. The other has his No. 3 jersey number. There's also an ode to the famous "Did we win?" line he uttered to doctors in the days after he suffered his on-field medical emergency during the Jan. 2 Bengals-Bills game.

Both cleats have "Love For Damar" written on them as well -- with Hamlin's foundation, "Chasing M's," on the back.

Hamlin clearly loved the shout-out and the design, re-sharing Sanders' vid on his social media page while writing, "unreal."

Several NFL players have shown the 24-year-old love since he suffered the cardiac arrest ... including Tom Brady, who donated $10,000 to Hamlin's toy drive foundation that's currently at $9 million and counting.

A mural was also made by a local artist in Buffalo, and celeb jeweler Gabriel Jacobs gifted 80 gold #3 pendants to the Bills team.

Unclear if Sanders will get to wear the Damar spikes on Sunday when the Eagles face the San Francisco 49ers ... but Philly will now certainly have some fans pulling for them in Buffalo regardless.

Damar Hamlin Cincy Mayor Honors Medical Providers ... Key To The City!!!

UPDATE

9:54 AM PT -- The mayor just thanked the dozens of workers who cared for Damar Hamlin ... saying it is an honor to be standing among them at Thursday's ceremony.

UPDATE

"Thank you for representing Cincinnati and providing this kind of advanced care to every patient who needs it," Aftab Pureval said on Twitter.

UPDATE

The medical professionals who assisted in Damar Hamlin's recovery following his medical emergency are being honored in a big way ... with the Cincinnati mayor giving them a key to the city!!

Aftab Pureval's office announced the news Thursday ... saying city officials want to show their appreciation for the providers who cared for the Bills safety after his cardiac arrest.

We're told the ceremony will take place at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center ... where 24-year-old Hamlin spent a week with doctors as they tended to the NFL player.

MOVING IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION
WKRC

Hamlin's physicians -- Dr. Knight and Dr. Pritts -- played an integral role in rehabilitating Damar so he could be released from the hospital.

At one point during his stay at UC Health Medical Center, Damar -- while still hooked up to a breathing machine -- famously asked the doctors who won the Monday Night Football game between the Bills and Bengals.

"You won. You won at the game of life," they told Hamlin.

Ultimately, doctors felt that Damar had made enough progress to be released from the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at UC Health Medical Center ... allowing him to continue his recovery at home.

He's since continued to make big strides in his recovery ... even hitting the Bills vs. Bengals game last Sunday in person.

Josh Allen Hamlin Body Double Claims Are 'Stupid' ... 'Stop That S***'

Josh Allen is taking aim at all the conspiracy theorists and tinfoil hat-wearers who have insisted there was a Damar Hamlin body double at the Bills' playoff game on Sunday ... saying straight up, "That's stupid."

Allen addressed the outlandish internet rumors while appearing on "Kyle Brandt's Basement" podcast ... urging people to "stop that s***."

"Yeah, that's stupid," Allen said ... before adding, "There's absolutely zero chance. That's the Damar Hamlin. That's our guy. That's our brother."

The theories swirled up after Hamlin wore a mask, hoodie and sunglasses to Buffalo's postseason contest against the Bengals on Sunday ... with trolls suggesting it was all in an effort to hide something.

But the Bills' star QB says that's all B.S.

"One, that's Damar's swag -- he likes wearing that," Allen said. "Two, he was in the locker room with us pregame. So, yes. That was Damar."

While Allen doesn't subscribe to the Hamlin body double claims, the QB did admit that he's into conspiracy theories ... and the moon landing is one that piques his interest.

Eli Apple Denies Shading Damar Hamlin ... After Bengals Win

Eli Apple says he was NOT trying to diss Damar Hamlin on Twitter after the Bengals beat the Bills on Sunday ... claiming he would never make light of the Buffalo safety's medical emergency.

The tweet in question came late Monday night ... when the 6-year NFL cornerback quote tweeted Stefon Diggs' post addressing his emotions after the game.

"Cancun on 3," Apple replied in the tweet ... ending it with a hand heart emoji.

Many believed the emoji was a reference to Hamlin, who has been known to do the heart hands throughout his career ... and most recently, following his in-game collapse on Jan. 2.

In fact, the 24-year-old safety made the gesture during the divisional round matchup while sitting in the Highmark Stadium suite.

Hamlin's teammate, Shaq Lawson, called Apple out on it ... saying the disrespect won't be tolerated and "that s*** get you beat up frfr. Keep it on the field."

But Apple -- who re-signed with the Bengals last March -- denied the shade, saying Tuesday he would never joke about a serious incident like that.

"All love thoughts prayers and concerns to @HamlinIsland as he continues to recover from that tragic incident," Apple said via Twitter.

"Never would I make light of that scary unfortunate scene. This game is truly a dangerous risk to our bodies mind and spirit. Nothing but love to all my football brothers."

Hamlin has yet to respond to Apple's tweet.

Damar Hamlin Bills Game Attendance Sparks Conspiracy Theory ... Sources Say It's BS

Damar Hamlin's presence at the Bills' playoff game has fueled wild conspiracies on the Internet among the tin foil hat-wearing crowd ... with some suggesting a body double was used in the 24-year-old safety's place.

But, multiple sources tell TMZ Sports that's simply not true ... sorry, conspiracy theorists.

Hamlin attended the Bills-Bengals game Sunday afternoon at Highmark Stadium ... his first time back at an NFL game since he went into cardiac arrest on the field in Cincinnati on January 2.

Damar, wearing a mask, hoodie, and sunglasses, was shown on television and the stadium scoreboard ... but between the accessories and bad weather in Buffalo, it was difficult to see Hamlin.

FYI, it was 30 degrees in western New York on Sunday.

Given Hamlin didn't speak with the media, and his face wasn't seen clearly, some people went to Twitter and online forums, suggesting a stand-in was used in DH's place.

The speculation has even gotten to the point where people were dissecting other pictures of Damar ... including the one teammate Matt Milano posted last weekend, which was believed to be Hamlin's first return to the Bills facility.

In the interest of debunking Internet conspiracy theories, we made some calls ... and multiple people close to Damar say it's absolute nonsense.

Bottom line -- Damar Hamlin was at the Bills game.

We reached out to the Bills for comment ... so far, no word back.

Josh Allen GF Calls Bills QB 'True Leader' ... After Playoff Loss

Josh Allen's girlfriend is proud of her man despite the loss on Sunday -- saying the Bills quarterback is a "true leader," especially after everything the team went through this season.

Brittany Williams -- who started dating Allen in 2015 -- published a sweet note to her Instagram page on Monday ... a day after the Bills' 27-10 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.

"So proud of this man," the 25-year-old said. "You are the most amazing & selfless person I know."

"Through all the highs of this season and the many many trials of adversity your team faced, you remained the same & never wavered."

Some of those hardships the Bills experienced this season include the deadly snowstorm in Buffalo that killed more than 35 people, the racially-motivated mass shooting at a Buffalo grocery store that left 10 dead, the sudden passing of tight end Dawson Knox's brother ... and most recently, Damar Hamlin's medical emergency.

"A true leader," Williams continued.

"The story is already written. So much to be proud of. So much to be thankful for. Riding with you til the end 17!"

Allen -- the Bills' top pick of the 2018 NFL draft -- was only able to score one touchdown against the Bengals defense, which he gave a lot of credit to during his post-game interview.

"Obviously, you wanna win all of them," the 26-year-old said. "They had a good game plan. Credit to those guys. They came out and play hard."

"We just didn't have it today."

The result makes it the Bills' second consecutive year losing in the Divisional Round.

Damar Hamlin Attends Bills Game in Person ... Gets Mad Love from Buffalo

Damar Hamlin showed up for his guys in person Sunday -- the first time he's been back in a football stadium since his life-threatening injury ... and it was quite a moment to behold.

The free safety rolled into Highmark Stadium before kickoff, being escorted by security on a team cart ... where he seemed to be trying to lay low with a pair of shades on and a jacket as well. It became clear though, that DH was there -- and utter excitement filled the venue.

He was taken to a private suite, with cameras and reporters following him almost all the way through the door. Damar didn't really stop and chat much -- he seemed way more interested in locking down his bird's-eye view of the field and watching the Bills take the field.

Once he was situated and away from the frenzy, Damar did motion to the home crowd from his window. He was seen throwing up a heart sign gesture with his hands and also hyped up the spectators ... who were roaring for him. The broadcasters found it touching too.

This is an especially big day for Buffalo. They're facing the Bengals -- the same team they were playing a few weeks when Damar went into cardiac arrest following a hard hit after a routine play ... which sent the game into an indefinite pause before it was scrapped.

Both teams have continued to play well since, and now ... they're meeting up once again. The Bills are currently down by double digits, but there's still a fair amount of time left.

It'd make for a great story if the boys in blue can mount a comeback in Damar's presence.

T.J. Houshmandzadeh On Cincinnati Vs. Buffalo ... 'I Like The Bengals' Chances!!!'

GET OVER IT
TMZSports.com

Don't be shocked if Cincinnati upsets Buffalo in their playoff game this weekend ... ex-NFL star T.J. Houshmandzadeh tells TMZ Sports he's confident his former squad will get the dub on Sunday!!!

The ex-Cincy wideout broke it down for us at LAX this week -- right after Joe Burrow and the guys beat the Baltimore Ravens in their Wild Card matchup last weekend.

"I like the Bengals' chances," he said.

The 45-year-old former Pro Bowler explained that with the way the Bengals looked against the Bills during their brief "Monday Night Football" contest earlier this month -- he's giving the edge to Cincinnati heading into the big AFC Divisional Round game.

"The way that regular-season game was going," he said, "I like the Bengals' chances."

Of course, the experts in Vegas disagree -- calling the Bills a 5.5-point favorite.

We also talked about the matchup with Houshmandzadeh's former Bengals teammate, Chad Johnson, at the L.A. airport -- and while he didn't seem as sure as his pal did about the outcome of the game, he didn't exactly pick Buffalo either.

MOVE ON
TMZSports.com

"I think it comes down to whoever makes the fewest mistakes," Ochocinco said. "And, the offense that executes the best."

Game kicks off at noon on Sunday ... getcha popcorn ready!

Buffalo Bills Gifted '3' Pendants For Damar Hamlin ... Ahead Of Playoff Game

TRIPLED OUT

The Buffalo Bills were surprised with special gifts in honor of Damar Hamlin ahead of their playoff game against the Bengals ... receiving "3" pendants for the entire team.

Von Miller -- whose season ended prematurely after he tore his ACL on Thanksgiving Day -- showed off the new jewelry on social media ... and the team is clearly pumped about the gesture.

NYC-based jeweler Gabriel Jacobs of Rafaello and Co. gifted 80 pendants to the team and Damar's family ... which feature a 2.5-inch, 14k gold #3 and a heart.

We're told Damar will be getting his very own customized pendant ... which will also feature diamonds.

The backs of each pendant feature one of Hamlin's viral quotes -- "If you get a chance to show some love today do it! It wonโ€™t cost you nothing."

Jacobs explained his decision to gift the pendants ... saying, "Like many others, when I saw what happened to Damar Hamlin, I couldnโ€™t help but feel connected thinking that this could happen to a family member of mine."

"I was extremely moved by all the outpouring of love and donations that came from all across the world. Being a jeweler, I wanted to give back in my own way by gifting these pendants as a way for the Buffalo Bills team to continue to honor Hamlin."

24-year-old Hamlin went into cardiac arrest after tackling Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins on Monday Night Football ... a moment that shook the sports world.

Hamlin was since released from the hospital after spending time in the ICU ... and head coach Sean McDermott said Wednesday the Bills safety has been at the practice facility "almost daily."

HANGIN' WITH THE TEAM
Buffalo Bills

McDermott said Hamlin is still taking things day by day ... and is trying to get back into a routine suitable for his current stage in recovery.

It's unclear if Hamlin will be at Highmark Stadium for the team's Divisional Round game against the Bengals ... but one thing's for sure -- he'll be on Bills Mafia's mind.

Stefon Diggs Hilarious Commentary On Slap Fight ... 'This Some Crazy S***!!!'

SLAP SHOCKER

Stefon Diggs might have a job in commentary after his NFL career -- but not necessarily calling football games -- the Bills star did some impromptu play-by-play on social media during the first Power Slap event, and it was hilarious!!

The 3x Pro Bowl receiver was flipping through the channels Wednesday night when he turned on Dana White's new Power Slap event on TBS ... and Diggs was in complete and utter shock as he watched Kortney Olson and Sheena Bathory slap the crap out of each other.

"Nah, this some crazy s**t right here," Diggs, as he lay in bed watching, said in a video he posted to social media, adding, "they right here smacking the s**t out of each other. Watch this right there... Ohhh! My gosh!"

In fairness to Diggs, what he was watching was actually insane ... Olson was KO'd with a massive slap from Bathory and the doctors called the fight.

"Oh s**t!" Diggs said watching the knockout, "Oh my gosh!"

Diggs also watched Jon Kennedy getting KO'd by Wesley Drain ... and hilariously dropped a famous quote from the iconic movie, "Friday," when Deebo knocks Craig down.

"Get up Craig! Get up, Craig!" Diggs yelled, "Get up! Get up, Craig!"

Of course, Diggs has somewhere to be on Sunday ... his Bills squad will play the Bengals in the Divisional round of the NFL Playoffs.

But, if Power Slap is looking for another commentator ... PLEASE hire Diggs!

Damar Hamlin Back At Bills' Facility 'Almost Daily' ... Coach McDermott Says

Damar Hamlin is continuing to make huge strides in his road to recovery ... Bills head coach Sean McDermott said the defensive back is now at Buffalo's practice facility "almost daily," and nearing a return to team meetings and more.

McDermott provided the good news in a Wednesday chat with media members ... saying Hamlin has recovered enough from his medical emergency two and a half weeks ago to the point where he's now "just trying to get back to a little bit of a routine."

HANGIN' WITH THE TEAM
Buffalo Bills

"It's limited just overall," the Bills' head man said ... explaining Hamlin isn't quite ready for meetings or a full day of work just yet. "Just getting himself acclimated again and taking it one step, one baby step at a time here."

As we reported, Hamlin went into cardiac arrest on Jan. 2 during the Bills vs. Bengals "Monday Night Football" game ... but has steadily improved over the last couple weeks.

He's been up, walking and talking ... though he's yet to attend a Bills game since his release from the hospital. But, he's watched his teammates intently from home, even tweeting his thoughts on Buffalo's playoff game against the Dolphins last Sunday throughout the contest.

It's not yet clear if he'll make it to the sidelines to catch the Bills' huge playoff game against Cincinnati on Sunday ... McDermott stressed it's a day-by-day process for the 24-year-old.

"[He's] just kind of getting himself -- dipping his toe back in here," McDermott said, "and, you know, getting on the road to just getting back to himself."

Damar Hamlin New Mural Unveiled In Buffalo ... After Cardiac Arrest

The city of Buffalo has some fresh new artwork ... weeks after Damar Hamlin went into cardiac arrest on the football field, a local artist painted a mural of the Bills safety!

Adam Zyglis, the artist, was the mastermind behind the project ... and he collaborated with Rory Allen to find the perfect place for the mural. The guys decided on Larkin Square.

FYI, Larkin Square is outside downtown Buffalo ... and is about 15 minutes away from Highmark Stadium, where the Bills play their home games.

Adam, an editorial cartoonist at the Buffalo News, tells us the inspiration for the mural was born when he heard 24-year-old Hamlin was being released from the hospital.

"I completed the illustration late last week after reading news of Damar Hamlin returning to Buffalo and coming home," Adam told us. "That moment of tragedy united the country across team allegiances and party lines."

He continued ... "It was a human moment, and his recovery was an illustration of Buffalo's strength, love, and resiliency. As the coach said, it was much bigger than football."

The 17-foot-tall illustration, which shows Damar in his Bills uniform making a heart gesture with his hands, was hand-drawn by Adam and took 4-5 hours to create and color.

The mural was installed on Monday, and once Damar saw the sick artwork on social media, he tweeted, "Where is this?" with a heart emoji and two fire emojis.

Of course, Damar hasn't returned to the field since being released from a Buffalo hospital last week ... however, Hamlin did visit his teammates at the facility over the weekend.

Hamlin supported his squad as he watched them defeat the Dolphins in the Wild-Card round ... and will be cheering for the Bills in the divisional round when they play the Bengals.

๐Ÿซถ๐Ÿซถ๐Ÿซถ

Rob Gronkowski I Was Nearly A Buffalo Bill ... Almost Signed With Them This Season!!!

ALMOST A DONE DEAL
New Heights with Jason & Travis Kelce

Josh Allen to ... Rob Gronkowski?!?

Gronk revealed this week that this combination nearly happened this season ... explaining on the the "New Heights with Jason & Travis Kelce" podcast that he was this close to signing with the Bills in 2022.

"I was like, 'Ahh. Tom [Brady] retired, I'ma check out some other teams," the 33-year-old future Hall of Famer said. "I was actually in talks with the Buffalo Bills a little bit. They wanted me to come up there."

Gronkowski though, said the two sides never got the chance to strike a deal -- telling the Kelces on the pod he just couldn't find the desire to play more football this season.

"It just wasn't there," the ex-Bucs star said.

But, if it had been there? "I would probably most likely be in Buffalo right now playing with the Bills," he revealed.

Of course Travis tried to make sure things stayed that way ... the Chiefs star told Gronk to remain retired -- just in case K.C. has to play Buffalo for a spot in next month's Super Bowl.

"Don't join them after this week," Travis said with a smile, before joking Gronk should just continue to do cool events like his upcoming field goal kick for a live Super Bowl commercial.

"Just kick the field goal, man!" Travis said.

FYI, Gronk has some Bills in his DNA -- he grew up 17 minutes from Buffalo ... and said he was upset when the team picked defensive tackle Torell Troup over him in the 2010 NFL Draft.

"They passed me and then I was pissed, kind of," Gronk said. "I was like, dude, I could've just played for my hometown team, like, they don't have a tight end and they passed me at 41.'"

Of course, the Patriots ended up trading up to get Gronk ... and the rest is history.

Old news is old news!
Be First!

Get TMZ breaking news sent right to your browser!