Bills trainer who performed CPR on Damar Hamlin receives 5th-place vote for NFL MVP
Patrick Mahomes received the second MVP of his career on Thursday, but the real surprise came when the full award voting totals were released.
The leaderboard features the expected mix of quarterbacks, skill players and defensive stars, with one exception. This person, who received a fifth-place vote, was not an offensive lineman, or a kicker, or a coach.
It was Buffalo Bills assistant trainer Denny Kellington, the man recognized for performing life-saving CPR on Damar Hamlin after the Bills safety went into cardiac arrest on the field last month.
According to Rob Maaddi of the Associated Press, the voter who caused Kellington to tie with the likes of Justin Herbert and Tyreek Hill was ESPN’s Suzy Kolber, who called her vote a “symbolic gesture representing ‘everyone’ who carries the weight of that job, every week. They rarely get the recognition they deserve.”
Maddii described the gesture as “beautiful” and noted the vote did not affect the top five finishers in the award.
Nowhere in the AP’s official voting guidelines does it say that only active NFL players may receive votes, though the spirit of the award is obviously intended to identify the league’s top players. The voting for the AP All-Pro teams is actually much more stringent, as this year’s results featured four voters who picked ineligible players as second-team linebackers.
Damar Hamlin’s medical team recognized at NFL honors
Hamlin’s nationally televised collapse on “Monday Night Football” would have been all the more horrific had it not been for the efforts of Kellington and his peers on the Bills and the hospitals in Cincinnati and Buffalo where Hamlin recovered.
That group had already been recognized at Thursday’s NFL Honors, where they were brought on stage for Hamlin, who has recovered enough that the NFLPA’s top doctor believes he will play football again, to personally thank them for their help.
“Every day I was amazed that my experience could encourage so many others, across the country and even across the world,” Hamlin said. “Encouraged to pray, encouraged to spread love, and encouraged to keep fighting no matter the circumstances.
“Sudden cardiac arrest was nothing I would have ever chosen to be a part of my story. That’s because sometimes our own visions are too small, even when we think we’re seeing the bigger picture. My vision was about playing in the NFL and being the best player I could be. God’s plan was to have a purpose bigger than any game in this world.”