FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Like so many others, Atlanta Falcons players and coaches were watching on Monday night when the Bengals hosted the Bills for one of the most important games of the season. That game would become irrelevant, though, as Bills safety Damar Hamlin tackled Tee Higgins, got back up and collapsed onto the field.
What unfolded in the moments after was a traumatic, nightmare situation for those on the field and those of us watching at home. Hamlin was administered CPR on the field before being put into an ambulance and transported to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center.
The game was postponed, with the league deciding on Tuesday that the game would not be resumed this week. As of Wednesday, the Week 18 games will continue on schedule. The Bills are still scheduled to face the Patriots on Sunday. They returned to their facility for a walk-though and meetings, per a report from ESPN's Bills reporter Alaina Getzenberg.
Meanwhile, in Atlanta, Arthur Smith began his Wednesday press conference sending support to all those directly impacted by the situation.
"Speaking on the behalf of the Atlanta Falcons we send our thoughts and our prayers to Damar Hamlin, his family and the entire Bills organization," Smith said. "We're praying for him. To see something like that happen, obviously puts a lot of things - life - into perspective. I just want to make sure that the Bills know, Damar and his family, that we're thinking about them and praying for them."
Smith declined to go into much more detail than that when asked how he and the Falcons players and coaches were handling the days after Monday Night Football.
He said he would like to keep any conversations and meetings the Falcons have had private. He said he was sensitive to the fact that everyone handles traumatic situations differently, and he wanted to give players the opportunity to speak for themselves if they chose to.
"Everybody has different ways that they deal with things. I never thought that there was a blueprint that you have to (follow). Everybody has different emotions. That's been my experience," Smith said.
Later he added: "I'm not going to go into any more details about my private thoughts or things I address privately with the team. That's just not who I am. Doesn't make me any better or worse. This is how I deal with it."
Smith also clearly stated that just because the Falcons are working to stay in their routine, it doesn't mean they weren't greatly impacted by what happened nor are they ignoring it. Far from it.
"If you go back into work-mode it's not lost on you what's going on. I think our guys understand that," Smith said. "We'll go out there and practice today and try to get into a routine, but that doesn't mean that we lack empathy or don't acknowledge anything else that's going on outside of this building."
Hamlin remains in critical condition at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center. As of 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, the Bills organization announced that Hamlin has displayed signs of improvement on Tuesday and then overnight from Tuesday to Wednesday.
There has been a little light come out a very dark situation, though. During the holiday season, Hamlin and his Chasing M's Foundation set up a toy drive for Hamlin's community. In a post, Hamlin himself wrote that 100 percent of the funds raised will go towards the purchase of toys for kids in need.
The GoFundMe page set up to raise money for the toy drive was originally set with the goal of raising $2,500. As of Wednesday afternoon at 2 p.m., the amount raised has nearly met the $6.5 million threshold.
"We're simply awestruck by the level of support and generosity we've seen over the past two days," Hamlin's team posted to the page on Wednesday. "With over $6 million raised, this fundraiser has become an overnight reminder of the incredible nature of humankind. Your actions directly reflect the type of human Damar is himself.
As representatives of Damar, the team at Jaster Athletes posted the fundraiser updates and will work with the Hamlin family, The Chasing M's Foundation, and the GoFundMe team to ensure the safe delivery of funds."
Along with the increased awareness and money raised for Hamlin's foundation, the support for Hamlin's fight has been felt throughout the league. On Tuesday, every NFL team's Twitter profile picture was changed to the same graphic.
On Wednesday, Smith said the response from every level of the league, from fans to teams to coaches to players and their families, has been inspiring.
"It shows that people care," Smith said. "It's a competitive business. We know that. Sometimes you can lose perspective but these players, these coaches, the people that work in this league, they care. They do. I think that's why it's inspiring. I think it gets lost in the day-to-day narratives or storytelling about the league and about the game itself."
To find out more about Hamlin's toy drive GoFundMe page (which is the only current fund that is being used by the Hamlin Family) please follow the link here.