Damar Hamlin is alive; COVID-19 antivax conspiracy theory false

Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen called claims that teammate Damar Hamlin is dead “stupid.” Hamlin is alive; the conspiracy theories are false.

Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin suffered a cardiac arrest after making a tackle during a game against the Cincinnati Bengals on Jan. 2 and was hospitalized for nine days. After being released from the hospital, he made his first public appearance when the Bills faced the Bengals again on Jan. 22. 

But, some people online claimed Hamlin didn’t survive – arguing because his face has been covered during public appearances or because he wasn’t clearly identifiable, the person appearing to be Hamlin was actually an actor, body double or a clone

One tweet with more than 4 million views says: “Why didn’t the NFL let us see Damar Hamlin’s face?” Many commenters offered the popular conspiracy theories as to why he wasn’t visible. 

THE QUESTION

Did Damar Hamlin actually die following his cardiac arrest, as conspiracy theorists claim?

THE SOURCES

THE ANSWER

This is false.

No, Damar Hamlin isn’t dead, as conspiracy theorists claim.

WHAT WE FOUND

After Damar Hamlin’s Jan. 2 cardiac arrest and collapse on the field in Cincinnati, he was taken to nearby UC Health. Doctors there provided updates on his condition on Jan. 5, and said he was alive. When Hamlin woke up, he wrote to doctors asking who won the game, as reported by several news outlets including VERIFY partner station WGRZ

When Hamlin returned to New York, he was admitted to Buffalo General Medical Center/Gates Vascular Institute in downtown Buffalo, where doctors there reported he was doing well. He was released from Buffalo General on Jan. 11 and doctors said it was safe for him to be released.

Damar Hamlin has posted to his social media channels since his collapse, including while he was in the hospital. One photo he posted to Instagram on Jan. 8, six days after his cardiac arrest, shows him alive in a hospital bed

Hamlin has also posted a photo of himself in a tweet appearing to mock the claims he’s actually a clone.

Hamlin’s teammate, Bills quarterback Josh Allen, addressed the claims on Jan. 24 on the Kyle Brandt’s Basement podcast

“Yeah, that’s stupid,” Allen said during his podcast appearance. He also expressed shock that these claims even exist.

Allen said Hamlin was in the locker with them before the Jan. 22 Bengals-Bills game.

“There’s absolutely zero chance, there is absolutely zero chance,” Allen said of the claims that Hamlin died and has been replaced. “He’s Damar Hamlin. That’s our guy. That’s our brother. He was with us,  pregame, postgame. He was up in the suite with his family, his little brother, 100 percent. So people need to stop that [expletive].”

The Buffalo Bills also posted a video of Hamlin arriving via golf cart ahead of the Jan. 22 game. The NFL also posted a tweet showing Hamlin in the suite at the game. VERIFY reached out to the Bills for comment but did not hear back at the time of publishing.

Some conspiracy theorists online suggested Hamlin’s cardiac arrest was caused by the COVID-19 vaccine. VERIFY has found there is no evidence that athlete cardiac arrests can be linked to COVID vaccine.

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