Dolphins' practice squad DT looks forward to reunion with Damar … – Palm Beach Post


MIAMI GARDENS — He wasn’t watching the “Monday Night Football” game a couple of weeks ago when the unthinkable happened. He has only watched a clip. It was enough to know he never wants to see it again.
Who among us does? The fact that Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin could have lost his life that night, on the football field, on national television, is enough to give us all chills.
Except Jaylen Twyman, a defensive tackle on the Dolphins’ practice squad, isn’t like us.
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Twyman was a high school senior in Washington, D.C., when he took an official visit to the University of Pittsburgh six years ago. His host would be a defensive back named Damar Hamlin.
Hamlin showed Twyman the campus. The city. They hung out at Dave & Buster’s. Sure, Hamlin was selling Twyman on the idea of becoming a Pitt Panther, but something greater was happening.
“A great mentor, a big brother,” Twyman says of how he’d begun seeing Hamlin.
Might as well add one hell of a salesman. When did Twyman know he’d be signing with Pitt?
“Directly after,” he says.
It’s times like that that Twyman wants to think about today, not the frightening sight of first responders twice administering CPR on the field to revive Hamlin, who’d gone into cardiac arrest. Hamlin spent the days that followed in critical condition in ICU, unconscious and unaware of the grip his condition had on the nation, not just the NFL.
Hamlin is out of the hospital now. He’s back in Buffalo — Buffalo, as in where the Dolphins will play Sunday. Against the Bills. It’s an AFC wild-card game, but it’s a special trip for Twyman for reasons transcending football.
Yes, he plans to visit Hamlin.
“We’ve been talking on the phone,” Twyman says. “He’s in good spirits. I’m happy for him. You know, he’s leaning in the right way. So it’s going to be good to actually see him and give him a hug.”
Twyman, 23, doesn’t know if Hamlin, 24, is well enough to attend the game. Hamlin’s recovery alone has been an inspiration to the Bills, firing up fans who already needed no particular reason to jump through tables to show their allegiance to their team. So one can only imagine the impact his presence would have to further fire up the Bills to beat the Dolphins, right?
“Nah,” Twyman says. “I think it’ll have an impact on both of us. Because he’s an inspiration to the whole world. So it’ll be good for both of us to show us that at any given time that it could be taken away from us.”
For days, the uncertainty of Hamlin’s condition left Twyman so distraught that he told the Dolphins’ communications staff he couldn’t discuss their friendship with reporters. But late this past week, Twyman sat at his locker, his smile a testament to the positive turn of events. Who didn’t smile when we learned that Hamlin’s first question to doctors after waking up was “Did we win?”
“That’s definitely Damar,” Twyman says.
Hamlin showed similar drive in convincing Twyman and several other hot recruits to come to Pitt in an effort to restore it to national prominence.
“He was just a hometown hero and he had a vision,” Twyman says.
Twyman was redshirted in 2017, but the next two seasons enabled them to lift each other up — and chop each other down in practice. If Hamlin intercepted a pass, it obviously had to be because Twyman was all over the quarterback. Just like any of Twyman’s sacks clearly had to be a coverage sack.
“Always competing,” Twyman says.
Just as they remained close at Pitt, so too in transitioning to the NFL. Twyman was a sixth-round pick of the Minnesota Vikings in 2021, taken 199th overall. Hamlin went to the Bills just 13 picks later.
Their paths began to intersect again in October, when the Vikings released Twyman, enabling the Dolphins to add him to their practice squad. Twyman and Hamlin were in the same division, their teams meeting twice annually, including a 32-29 Buffalo win Dec. 17. Hamlin had warned Twyman before that game that the Bills’ scheme would dominate, to which Twyman warned, “We’re coming right at you.”
Twyman wasn’t tuned to the Bills-Bengals game Jan. 2 when Hamlin collapsed. He didn’t need to be. His phone started ringing. He was told his friend was in danger.
“I seen it,” Twyman says of the video clip. “And it was just so devastating. And I don’t even like to go back and think back to that moment because it was just so devastating.”
Twyman didn’t immediately contact Hamlin’s family because he knew “the whole nation was hitting them up.” Instead he relied on former Pitt teammate Paris Ford, who passed along updates. 
“Seeing the whole support — the whole world supportive of him, really helped me out a lot as well,” Twyman says.
That included the outpouring for Hamlin’s GoFundMe drive, which went from a goal of $2,500 to a total approaching $9 million.
“Just got good people in this world,” Twyman says. “That’s it. That’s all you can say.”
Throughout the league, including in Miami, players and coaches wore “Love for Damar” shirts. Players from opposing teams prayed together for his recovery.
Prayers, hopes and dedicated medical professionals — credit the happy ending however you choose. Just know that this weekend, while the Bills and Dolphins battle on the field, one Dolphin and one Bill will share an infinitely more important moment off it.
“That’s my brother and I love him,” Twyman says.

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