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What the Football Hall of Fame says about call to induct trainer who gave CPR to Hamlin

A building's front entrance has floor to celling glass windows and a sign that says "Football Hall of Fame" on the outside.
Rich Desrosiers
Pro Football Hall of Fame
The sun shines on the front doors of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Museum in Ohio.

The former Buffalo Bills assistant trainer who performed life-saving CPR on Damar Hamlin could get some acknowledgment from the Pro Football Hall of Fame museum.

Central New York Congressmember Claudia Tenney this week called for Denny Kellington, a former Syracuse University football staffer, to be the first trainer inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Tenney said Kellington's heroic actions, which doctors credit with saving Hamlin’s life, should earn him a spot in football history.

"I support the calls for the National Football League to make Denny Kellington the first athletic trainer to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame," Tenney said on the House floor in a C-SPAN video.

Hall of Fame Chief Communications and Content Officer Rich Desrosiers said inductees are mostly retired athletes—this year's finalists include retired New York Jets Cornerback Darrelle Revis and former Chicago Bears return man Devin Hester. But Desrosiers said they do have a category to honor people like Kellington.

"Basically, a contributor is a catch-all category for anybody who is not a modern-era player, senior player, or coach," Desrosiers said.

That includes Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones and a referee. Desrosiers said it's not impossible Kellington could be nominated for next year's class, but the Hall of Fame's newly established Awards of Excellence would be more likely.

"I suspect that the trainer's group will do something at its own convention this year to recognize the Bills' staff in particular," Desrosiers said.

Award recipients would be honored at the Hall of Fame museum in Ohio. The ceremony is in June.

Gold statues of faces sit on shelves inside a room.
Rich Desrosiers
Pro Football Hall of Fame
Multiple awards and recognizing football players line the walls inside the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Karl Winter is a graduate student studying broadcast and digital journalism at Syracuse University's Newhouse School of Public Communications, expected to graduate in May 2023. As a multimedia reporter, Karl helps produce audio and digital content for WAER. Karl moved to Syracuse from Stockton, California, and attended undergraduate college at Pepperdine University in Malibu.