Damar Hamlin’s family is “frustrated” by backlash against the Cincinnati Bengals player he tackled before collapsing and going into cardiac arrest during a game.
Wide receiver Tee Higgins was the player tacked by the Buffalo Bills safety before he suffered the shocking medical emergency during the game on Monday night.
Hamlin’s friend and marketing representative Jordon Rooney told CNN that Higgins has reached out to the family directly and that both of Hamlin’s parents are “frustrated with backlash towards Tee Higgins.”
“Tee has reached out, Tee has been supportive,” Mr Rooney said. “It was a freak accident. It was nothing that Tee could control.”
“You can’t support Damar and critique Tee in this situation because Damar’s family is not looking at it that way at all,” he said.
Following the incident, Higgins took to Twitter to publicly send his best wishes to Hamlin and his family.
“My prayers and thoughts go out to @HamlinIsland the Hamlin Family. I’m praying that you pull through bro,” he tweeted.
ESPN personality Bart Scott has come under fire for suggesting that Higgins had made a football move that the NFL has tried to cut out for player safety reasons, suggesting that Higgins had lowered his helmet before the collision.
The NFL announced on Tuesday that the game would not be resumed this week and said no decision had been made on whether it would be.
Meanwhile, fans reached out to Higgins directly on social media to give him support.
“Continue to pray for the mental and emotional state of Tee Higgins. He is probably taking the blame for what happened to Damar Hamlin last night. I just hope his teammates and family are in his ear telling him that he did nothing wrong,” tweeted an independent NFL reporter.
And another wrote: “Be kind to yourself, Tee. You didn’t do it on purpose. You were just playing football. Something extremely unfortunate happened as a result of your effort but it is absolutely NOT your fault. I’m praying hard for Damar Hamlin and his family. I’m praying for you, too.”
Another fan wrote, “This isn’t on you (Tee Higgins), don’t let this weigh on your heart. Buffalo loves and appreciates everything you, your teammates, your coaches, and your city did for us tonight. We love you.”