Indianapolis Colts safety Rodney Thomas II immediately ran over to the 30-yard line after intercepting Houston Texans quarterback Davis Mills in the fourth quarter in Week 18, knelt down and placed the football on top of No. 3.
It was his own personal tribute to Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin (who wears No. 3), who was Thomas' high school teammate at Central Catholic in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Rodney Thomas pays respect to his high school teammate Damar Hamlin pic.twitter.com/UJI8QRQVjc
— alex (@highlghtheaven) January 8, 2023
On a day when support for Hamlin continued just six days after he suffered cardiac arrest in the middle of the Bills' Week 17 matchup with the Cincinnati Bengals, this one had a bit of a personal touch for Thomas.
The two players knew each other well while they played together in Pittsburgh and Thomas called Hamlin "my brother" soon after he heard about what happened. He even drove from Indianapolis to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, where Hamlin is being treated, after he heard the news. Thomas also told reporters he would think about Hamlin throughout the Week 18 game because of how important Hamlin is to him.
“I’m never putting it aside,” Thomas said. “I’m putting it right where it’s got to be, right in my mind. I’m playing for him. ... My only two focuses, my only two goals, is Damar and the Texans.”