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Tipsheet

Damar Hamlin Shuts Down Body Double Conspiracy Theory in New Video

AP Photo/Emilee Chinn

The Buffalo Bills season is over, suffering a crushing defeat in the divisional round of the 2022 NFL playoffs against the Cincinnati Bengals. But the team's focus was on safety Damar Hamlin’s recovery from a cardiac episode that nearly cost him his life. Hamlin collapsed in the first quarter of the Bills-Bengals game on Jan. 2. It was Monday Night Football, where both teams were already in the playoffs but were looking to better their positions in the post-season. Bills needed a win to help them secure the first-round bye, while Cincinnati needed a win to clinch the AFC North. Hamlin required CPR on the field for nearly ten minutes and remained in critical condition—the Bills athletic staff was credited for saving his life. 

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The league rallied around Damar, who has a long road ahead of him but was able to attend the divisional playoff game, sitting in a suite box where his face is mostly obscured. It spawned a conspiracy theory that Hamlin had a body double (via NBC News):

Anti-vaccine activists who believe without evidence that a Covid vaccine caused Damar Hamlin’s cardiac arrest this month have pivoted to a new conspiracy theory to explain his swift recovery: that the Buffalo Bills safety has been replaced by a body double.

Though outlandish, the theory has gained enough attention to draw a response from Bills quarterback Josh Allen, who responded on a podcast this week. 

“That’s stupid,” he said. 

This most recent conspiracy theory about Hamlin underscores the lengths to which anti-vaccine activists will go to further the false narrative that Covid vaccines cause widespread injury and death, and highlights a widening audience susceptible to even the most absurd misinformation that powers the anti-vaccine movement. 

Hamlin’s cardiac arrest Jan. 2 following a collision during a game against the Cincinnati Bengals immediately sparked unfounded speculation that the Covid vaccine was to blame, adding to a growing narrative among anti-vaccine voices that many vaccinated people were dying unexpectedly.  

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Now, he’s released a new video, breaking his silence since his injury, which shuts down the body double rumors since—well—he’s on camera, face unobscured, and thankful for all the support he has received since that scary medical episode (via Fox News): 

 

In his first comments on camera since going into cardiac arrest on Monday Night Football on Jan. 2, Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin said he would not have made it through the "toughest moments and the toughest times" without the support from all over the world. 

Right after making a tackle on Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins, Hamlin stood up, but immediately collapsed. Medical staff performed CPR on him for over nine minutes, and he left the field on an ambulance after having to be defibrillated. 

[…]

The 24-year-old has been active on social media, even live-tweeting during several Bills games, but he wanted to wait for the "right time" to share a message on video. 

"Now that my brothers have closed out a strong, winning season, as I continue to make so much progress recovering, I think it's finally a good time to share a few things," he said in an Instagram post on Saturday. "I think it was important for me to wait and speak publicly at the right time, as it was just a lot to process within my own self mentally, physically, even spiritually, it's just been a lot to process. But I can't tell you how appreciative I am of all the love, all the support, and everything that's just been coming my way. 

[…] 

He went on to thank the Bills medical staff and doctors at the University of Cincinnati Medical center, who "acted willfully and skillfully to save my life." 

He also gave gratitude to friends who checked up on him via text and visits, and thanked football fans all over for their support. 

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Hoping for a full recovery, Hamlin. We’re all glad you’re back.

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