The 25-year-old said he understands it's a process to return from the cardiac arrest he suffered during a game on Jan. 2, which put him in critical condition for multiple days, but noted that doctors believe returning to football will be positive for his mental health.
"I've been beating statistics my whole life, so I like my chances here," he said of returning to play football.
Hamlin received CPR on the field after he collapsed following a collision with Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins. Hamlin was rushed by ambulance to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, where he was in critical condition. He spent nearly a week in the Cincinnati hospital before being flown to Buffalo for further treatment. He was released on Jan. 11.
The safety announced on Tuesday that he suffered commotio cordis, a rare cause of cardiac arrest started by a blow to the chest in a precise spot at the wrong time in the heartbeat, according to the American Heart Association.
"The diagnosis of pretty much what happened to me was basically commotio cordis," Hamlin said. "It's a direct blow at a specific point in your heartbeat that causes cardiac arrest, and five-to-seven seconds later, you fall out. That's pretty much what everyone's seen Jan. 2 of this year. Commotio cordis is the leading cause of death in youth athletes across all sports. So that's something that I personally will be taking a step in to make a change. Also, with that being said, all of the awareness around CPR and access to AEDs have been lowering that number as well."
Through his foundation, Hamlin is helping bring awareness to CPR training and efforts to provide AEDs (automated external defibrillators) to youth sports, which can help save lives. The NFL also announced last month that it is partnering with other major sports leagues in a campaign to help prevent fatal cardiac arrests among high school students.
Hamlin told reporters on Tuesday that he views his NFL comeback as another way he can help motivate himself and others to overcome their circumstances.
"My heart is still in it. My heart is still in the game," he said. "I love the game. It's something I want to prove to myself -- not nobody else. I just want to show people that fear is a choice. You can keep going in something without having the answers and without knowing what's at the end of the tunnel. Or you might feel anxious, you might feel any type of way, but you keep putting that right foot in front of the left one and you keep going. I want to stand for that."
Hamlin said he's thankful for every day since suffering the rare injury and knows he has more to offer.
"Not to sound cliché, but the wild moment is every day just being able to wake up and take deep breaths and live a peaceful life," he said. "To have a family, to have people around me that love me and care about me, and for those people to still have me in their lives. You know they almost lost me. I died on national TV in front of the whole world. So, I see it from all perspectives. For them to still have me around, and for me to still have them, it goes both ways. And I lost a bunch of people in my life, and I know a bunch of people who have lost people in their lives, and I know that feeling. So that right there is just the biggest blessing of it all. For me to still have my people, and for my people to still have me."