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The dreadful, tense aftermath of Damar Hamlin’s injury

The sports world continues to wait and hope for positive updates on Bills safety Damar Hamlin, who was in critical condition at University of Cincinnati Medical Center as of Tuesday night after going into cardiac arrest during the first quarter of their game against the Bengals on “Monday Night Football.”

The Bills released a statement on Hamlin’s status early Tuesday afternoon.

“Damar Hamlin spent last night in the intensive care unit and remains there today in critical condition at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center,” the team said. “We are grateful and thankful for the outpouring of support we have received thus far.”

Dorrian Glenn, Hamlin’s uncle, told reporters Tuesday evening that Hamlin was breathing with 50 percent assistance from a ventilator, down from 100 percent, which was “a good sign.” He said Hamlin had to be resuscitated twice after the incident — once on the field and once at the hospital.

The Bills-Bengals game will not resume this week, according to the NFL. As of yet, the Week 18 schedule has not been changed. It is not clear when the Bills next will take the field. This is uncharted territory for the league.

Buffalo Bills fans attend a candlelight prayer vigil for player Damar Hamlin at Highmark Stadium on Jan. 3, 2023 in Orchard Park, New York.
Supporters hold candles at a vigil for Damar Hamlin at the Bills’ Highmark Stadium on Tuesday night.
Getty Images

Bills fans held a vigil for Hamlin Tuesday afternoon outside of Highmark Stadium, reportedly organized in part by legendary quarterback Jim Kelly’s wife, Jill. The rest of the league changed its Twitter avatars to Hamlin’s jersey number atop a blue background with the text “Pray for Damar,” and the Pro Football Hall of Fame postponed the reveal of its 2023 finalists.

Also in Buffalo, the Sabres showed up to their game against the Capitals with shirts that said “Love for 3,” which is Hamlin’s jersey number.

Hamlin’s toy drive has now received over $5 million in donations on GoFundMe.

The Post’s Ryan Dunleavy spoke to a cardiologist who explained some of the possibilities that might have led to the freak cardiac event. The Post’s Andrew Marchand also talked with Joe Buck about broadcasting the game, and his report, which was later contested by the NFL, that the teams initially were given five minutes to warm up before the game would be resumed.

You can find live updates with all The Post’s coverage here.

Today’s back page

Back cover of the New York Post for Jan. 4, 2023
New York Post

Read more:

🏈 SERBY: We need a Damar Hamlin miracle

🏈 O’CONNOR: Always honor the bravery of men like Damar Hamlin who play in violent NFL

Three’s company

It’s been somewhat lost in the mix with New York’s NFL and NBA teams in playoff races, but we could be headed for an all-time close finish for the three nearby hockey teams.

The Devils, Rangers and Islanders are separated by just three points in the standings, with the Devils in second place in the Metropolitan Division with 49, the Rangers in third with 48 and the Islanders in fifth with 46. It seems less likely now than it did when the Devils were on an otherworldly winning streak earlier in the season, but it’s very much in play that all three teams reach the postseason for just the third time ever.

Igor Shesterkin #31 and Chris Kreider #20 of the New York Rangers defend against the Carolina Hurricanes during the second period at Madison Square Garden on January 3, 2023 in New York City.
Igor Shesterkin and Chris Kreider try to stop a shot during the Rangers’ 5-3 win over the Hurricanes on Tuesday night.
Getty Images

The Islanders, who romped over the Canucks, 6-2, late Tuesday night in the second leg of a four-game road trip, are likely the biggest question mark of the three, but with how close things are right now, none is guaranteed to make it. The Rangers — who ended the Hurricanes’ 11-game winning streak by rallying for a 5-3 victory at the Garden — seem to have mostly righted themselves after a wobbly start, but have zero separation or margin for error. The Devils have enthralling speed and skill with Jack Hughes and Nico Hischier leading the charge, but it’s a question whether they have the experience and physicality to compete. The Islanders have the current Vezina Trophy favorite in Ilya Sorokin, but getting him enough support has been an ongoing issue.

All three teams should be active ahead of the trade deadline — the Rangers and Islanders to add scoring and the Devils to get a little heavier — but right now, all three teams are entertaining on a nightly basis. That hasn’t happened in a long, long time.

And how fitting would it be if we got a local playoff series, after a regular season that gave us just three apiece of Rangers-Islanders and Rangers-Devils matchups? For now, we can only dream.

📺 What to watch on Wednesday

Kyrie Irving #11 of the Brooklyn Nets is greeted by Yuta Watanabe #18 after he rebounds and slams the ball against the San Antonio Spurs.
The Nets look for their 13th consecutive victory on Wednesday night in Chicago.
Robert Sabo

Devils at Red Wings, 7 p.m., TNT: Every game in the Metropolitan is big, and this one is no exception. The Devils, just 2-7-2 in their past 11, see their playoff cushion melting away. The Red Wings are hovering on the periphery of the race with 39 points.

Spurs at Knicks, 7:30 p.m., MSG: This looks like a winnable game for the Knicks, who have won two straight ahead of this visit from a 12-25 Spurs outfit. The Knicks are just a game back of sixth place, which would lift them out of the play-in round.

Nets at Bulls, 8 p.m., YES: Brooklyn has won 12 in a row. Can Kevin Durant and Co. make it 13? Meanwhile, Kyrie Irving — scoring 25.9 points per game since returning from a team suspension — might be playing his way to a new max contract.

Pack up the khakis

It sure looks as if Jim Harbaugh wants out of Michigan and back to the NFL, as both the Panthers and Broncos have discussed their head coach openings with him, per reports from Pro Football Talk and The Athletic. More important than teams reaching out to Harbaugh, it sounds as if Harbaugh’s declaration last month that he would “enthusiastically” be coaching Michigan in 2023 was, at best, hiding his intentions. The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman, Nicole Auerbach and Austin Meek reported Monday that sources close to Harbaugh believe he’ll leave if he gets an NFL offer; author and well-respected Michigan reporter John U. Bacon added that Harbaugh could leave due to “growing frustration with college football itself.”

Michigan Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh leaves the field after the TCU Horned Frogs defeated the Michigan Wolverines in the 2022 Fiesta Bowl.
Jim Harbaugh appears to be headed back to the NFL after Michigan’s loss to TCU in the College Football Playoff semifinals.

If an NFL team does hire him, they should do so understanding exactly what they are getting. Harbaugh has a reputation for quarterback development — though it never really came to fruition at Michigan. He’s a great leader who can motivate people and turn around a culture, and getting the Wolverines into the Playoff two straight years following a disastrous 2020 season is a testament to that. But he marches to the beat of his own drum in a way that might not work so well when he can’t be a CEO-like figure, as he is with Michigan, and it took a long time for him to figure out an offensive system in Ann Arbor that blended his smashmouth preferences with modern principles.

Maybe it works in the league, maybe it doesn’t. But this isn’t a sure thing.

As for Michigan, it’ll be hard for anyone to be upset with Harbaugh after what he’s done there. Losing to TCU would leave a bad taste, as would leaving after he said he’d stay, but the program’s in as good a place as it’s been this century. It wouldn’t feel all too different from basketball coach John Beilein leaving in 2019, a year after flirting with the Pistons, signing a lifetime extension with Michigan and saying it was where he’d be forever. Turned out he wanted to coach at the highest level, and when the Cavaliers came calling, he answered.

Athletic director Warde Manuel responded to that by hiring Juwan Howard, which has worked out pretty well, three years later. Now he may have to do one better.

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