Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin said that he didn’t mean to “hurt or disrespect anyone” with the jacket he wore to Super Bowl LVII after it was criticized for being “blasphemy.”
Hamlin was in attendance for the NFL’s season finale, played between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Philadelphia Eagles at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, and was honored before kickoff, along with the medical personnel and first responders who helped perform lifesaving CPR on him when he suffered a cardiac arrest during a game in January and oversaw his recovery.
The 24-year-old was seen wearing a jacket depicting Jesus on the back with the word “Eternal” emblazoned above it. On the front, it bore another image of Jesus and the phrase: “Without end and without beginning, there is no day and there is no night.”
But the portrayals of Jesus have been criticized, in particular from star NFL running back Adrian Peterson.
In a since edited Instagram post, 2012 NFL MVP Peterson reportedly called the jacket “blasphemy.”
“You should be thanking God son!” Peterson reportedly wrote. “This is Blasphemy!! We all fall short but c’mon man! I find this disrespectful.”
Having edited the post, Peterson said he had spoken to Hamlin and they “were able to discuss our thoughts as men.”
“I want to be clear, I’m the last person to judge anyone, and that was never my intention. However, I do feel as if the jacket was disrespectful and it was something that I needed to share,” Peterson wrote.
“I do realize everyone makes mistakes and falls short at times, so again, my intention was never to judge, just to share my opinion. Damar, I have respect and love for you and I wish you nothing but the best, but I just can’t rock with that jacket.
“I feel like there are a lot people, young and old, looking up to you and with power and influence comes great responsibility. I apologize for offending you, I just felt offended in that moment as a man who loves and respects our Lord and Savior, Yeshua. After speaking with Damar, I have an understanding that it didn’t come from a place of ill intent!”
Hamlin addressed the criticism his jacket had received. “After talking with my parents I understand how my coat could have offended some people,” he wrote on Twitter.
“It was never my intentions to hurt or disrespect anyone, the coat is abstract art to me. It says Eternal which I am Eternally thankful to my Savior!
“My beliefs and Relationship with God is not tied to symbolic images. I will learn from this and continue to walk in Love as I ALWAYS have. Matthew 7:1-5.”
In his first TV appearance since collapsing after making a tackle in the first quarter of a game between the Bills and the Cincinnati Bengals on January 2, Hamlin said he’s “doing great” physically but is “still working through things” emotionally.
“Every morning, every night I take 10 deep breaths to myself and it puts everything in perspective for me. I’m doing great,” Hamlin said in an interview with Good Morning America.
“I’m still working through things, I’m still trying to process all the emotions and the trauma that comes from dealing with a situation like that and not really having people around – no one in my immediate circle who has dealt with something like that.”