Bills GM Brandon Beane on Sunday's home game vs. Patriots: 'It's going to be a celebration of life'

The Buffalo Bills will host the New England Patriots on Sunday, less than a week removed from Damar Hamlin's frightening incident on Monday night. With the Bills safety showing significant improvement in his condition, including feeling well enough to address the team Friday for the first time, GM Brandon Beane expects the environment at Highmark Stadium to be unlike any in NFL history.

"It's going to be a celebration of life and ongoing life," Beane said. "Just a celebration that ... this is not only going to be a celebration in Buffalo but the whole country, and I'm sure people internationally will watch this situation. I think it's going to be a great scene. If you have a ticket to come here, and to just be a part of this atmosphere. The hair on the back of my neck is standing up right now just thinking about it. ... It's going to be unique, and I'm excited to see it. It will be a challenge for our team. To be able to manage the emotions. There's going to be tears out there. That will be more of the challenge than the X's and O's. ... Just being able to go through that and just seeing our fans, and I know there's going to be a lot of 3 numbers out there. I'm excited to see it, it's going to be a cool deal. And the only thing better is if Damar was out of there by then. I don't know that that would happen. Anyway, we're excited for Sunday."

The Bills announced on Friday they will don special "3" patches against the Pats, and the league will feature support for Hamlin across all Week 18 games.

While the Patriots-Bills matchup carries major AFC playoff implications -- the Patriots clinch a wild-card spot with a win, and a Bills win or loss could impact Buffalo's seeding -- it also follows an incredibly traumatic and emotional week for the Bills organization.

Bills quarterback Josh Allen emphatically said Thursday he wants to play and cited a message this week from Hamlin's father, Mario Hamlin, that Damar would want want the team to press forward.

"They can't unsee what they saw," Beane said on Friday, but "they're pros. They'll be ready."

Like Bills players on Thursday, Beane commended the leadership Bills head coach Sean McDermott has displayed in navigating the team through a harrowing week.

"Sean McDermott. What a great job of leading our team back here, getting them home (this week)," Beane said. "It was a very tenuous moment, as we know, as Damar was trying to battle this through and a lot of unknown and uncertainties. Just the vulnerability that Sean showed working with our team, helping us to get counselors here and just ... I mean, I went into the team meeting this morning and he's got this team rock solid. I'm biased, but through what we've been through, this guy deserves Coach of the Year for what he's done."

The Bills, a preseason Super Bowl favorite, clinched a third-consecutive AFC East title on Christmas Eve. Beane said that regardless of what happens in the playoffs, this is a team he will not forget.

"I don't know what's going to happen the rest of the season on the field, I really don't," Beane said. "This is a group of winners, and I will forever remember this team, this season, the moments of it. I'm still hopefully optimistic that we can make a run, but I don't know if there's ever a team that I'll be more proud of than this, for all it's been dealt, and we're still sitting here with all this at 12-3 and a chance to still do something. So we'll see what happens there, but I could talk for hours about how proud I am."

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