Damar Hamlin Made The Buffalo Bills The New “America’s Team” | It’s Miami Against the World Wild Card Weekend

Image Credit: Bryan Bennett / Getty

This weekend, the NFL wild card round between the Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins is a battle between two teams that have experienced hardships. Each instance has involved a player that was injured in ways that make people question the game but also play harder for their fallen teammate.

The Buffalo Bills’ Damar Hamlin re-energized the world through the injury he suffered live on television. Nothing is more tragic than watching a gridiron warrior deliver or take a hit and then wobble while standing. Hamlin collapsed, which was followed by the scene of the Bills praying for him until he was driven off the field in an ambulance. The Monday, Jan. 2, night game against the Cincinnati Bengals was canceled and will never be rebooked.

The Hamlin Effect

However, the Bills were energized for Hamlin as Bills running back Nyheim Hines scored two kickoff return touchdowns in the team’s 35-23 Week 18 win against the Patriots. It was Buffalo’s first game since Hamlin collapsed. It was also the first time a Bills player took it to the house in four years.

That was their last game. The day after the game, Hamlin took to Twitter to give the world his appreciation.

“Headed home to Buffalo today with a lot of love on my heart,” Hamin wrote on Twitter. “Watching the world come together around me on Sunday was truly an amazing feeling.

“The same love you all have shown me is the same love that I plan to put back into the world n more.

“Bigger than football!”

The next game for the Bills is their wild card game against the Miami Dolphins, and the energy at home in support of Hamlin’s recovery will undoubtedly be off the chain from the team and maniacal fans known as the Bills Mafia.

The Tua Factor

On the flip side, Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa has been on the mind of the football world based on his on-field stumbles and thin offensive line protection that has kept him in concussion protocols.

The game now serves as a reminder of the value of a player’s life. Ironically, two games prior, the Bills defeated the Dolphins in Buffalo 32-29, with Tua Tagovailoa playing and throwing two touchdowns. Since, Sunday, Jan. 1, Tua has been in concussion protocols, with Skylar Thompson and Teddy Bridgewater filling in QB duties.

But in two games, each has been lackluster, with a TD and interception apiece. In their last game, an 11-6 win over the New York Jets, Skylar made no touchdowns, and the team survived off kicks. Bridgewater was never even tapped to enter the game after suffering from a finger injury in Week 17 versus the Patriots.

Tagovailoa has been ruled out Sunday and remains in the league’s concussion protocol.

“As of today, Tua has not been cleared by doctors to resume football activities on the field with his teammates, so because of that and because of the time that he’s missed, I can rule him out for Sunday,” Miami head coach Mike McDaniel announced on Wednesday.

That leaves the pressure on veteran QB Bridgewater or the rookie Skylar, and the rookie looks like their go-to QB. Will the team rally around the loss of Tua the way the Bills will around Hamlin to propel the win on the Buffalo tundra?

The winner will have more to prove in the battle of teams with emotional motivation.

Rhett Butler is a Boxing Writer Association of America Journalist, Play-By-Play Commentator, Combat Sports Insider, and Former Mixed Martial Arts and Boxing Promoter. The New York City native honed his skills at various news outlets including but not limited to: TIME Magazine, Money Magazine, CNN's Wolf Blitzer Reports, and more. Rhett hosts the PRITTY Left Hook podcast, a polarizing combat sports insider's take featuring the world's biggest names.