Buffalo Bills player Damar Hamlin suffered a cardiac arrest Jan. 2 on the football field after being hit in the chest during a tackle. Hamlin was discharged from the hospital on Jan. 11 and has made several public appearances since then. But posts on social media falsely claim Hamlin died.
Damar Hamlin, a 24-year-old safety for the Buffalo Bills, suffered a cardiac arrest after taking a hit to the chest during a tackle on Jan. 2 in a football game against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Hamlin got up after the tackle, but then collapsed and received medical attention on the field, as we previously reported. In a statement on Jan. 3, the Bills said Hamlin had suffered a cardiac arrest, which means his heart stopped beating after the hit, although his “heartbeat was restored on the field.”
Hamlin was initially taken to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, where he was sedated and listed in critical condition. Hamlin was transferred on Jan. 9 to the Buffalo General Medical Center/Gates Vascular Institute, where he was tested and evaluated to determine the cause of the cardiac arrest and received a plan for recovery. He was released from the hospital on Jan. 11.
Since his release, Hamlin has visited the Bills’ practice facility several times.
Jordon Rooney, Hamlin’s family spokesman, told ESPN on Jan. 19, “Despite being out of the hospital, Damar still has a lengthy recovery. Damar still requires oxygen and is having his heart monitored regularly. He has visited with the team a few times but he still gets winded very easily.”
But posts on social media falsely claim that Hamlin is dead and that the NFL is covering it up.
“I don’t believe Damar Hamlin is alive. NFL paid off his family to keep quiet. After all these weeks have passed, don’t you think it’s extremely odd we still haven’t seen his face, or any video of him or his family TALKING on camera about how thankful he is to be alive and well,” read a tweet shared on Jan. 23.
A post on Facebook shared screenshots of several tweets of bogus claims about Hamlin — including the Jan. 23 tweet.
The caption of the Facebook post read, “DH died that day. What they tried to pull of as him on Sunday was ridiculous if you have any kind of discernment. No interviews with him. Feds surround the hospital. Gag order on all players and coaches, just to name a few of the ‘strange’ occurrences surrounding this event. They are covering this up as best they can as to not have to answer any questions about why he had a heart attack on live TV. If I’m wrong I’ll admit it but I don’t think I am.”
But the Facebook post and the tweet are indeed wrong. Hamlin has been seen in public several times. He is usually shown wearing a mask, and it’s difficult to see his face in the images and videos shared.
On Jan. 22, Hamlin appeared at Highmark Stadium in Orchard Park, New York, for the playoff game between the Bills and the Bengals. Before the game started, Hamlin was shown riding in a golf cart on his way to the locker room to visit his teammates.
Hamlin watched the game in a stadium luxury box with his parents and brother. He was also shown on camera to the crowd, forming his hands in a heart shape — his signature move — before halftime was over.
It’s also inaccurate that a “gag order” — which is when a judge prohibits a case from being discussed in public — has been issued to players or coaches. Many players have spoken publicly about Hamlin’s recovery and visits to the team. Josh Allen, the Bills’ quarterback, debunked the claims that Hamlin wasn’t actually at the game and there was a body double portraying Hamlin.
“One, that’s Damar’s swag. He likes wearing that,” Allen said in a Jan. 24 podcast interview. “Two, he was in the locker room with us pregame, so yes, that was Damar. There is absolutely zero chance. Absolutely zero chance. That was the Damar Hamlin. That’s our guy. That’s our brother.”
Hamlin also appears to have addressed the rumors on Jan. 23 in a tweet that showed a photo of him standing next to a mural of himself with the caption, “Clone.”
Another tweet from Hamlin shared the next day read, “Thankful for all the GENUINE love, thoughts & prayers from all across the world.. y’all will hear from me soon!”
While the cause of Hamlin’s cardiac arrest is not known, experts suspect Hamlin suffered from a rare condition called commotio cordis — an irregular heartbeat caused by a sudden hit to the chest.
Symptoms of cardiac arrest include sudden collapse, loss of consciousness, cessation of breathing and no pulse. Without immediate intervention to get the individual’s heart beating again, cardiac arrest can cause death.
Chuck Hughes, a former wide receiver for the Detroit Lions, is the only NFL player to die after collapsing on the field. Hughes had an undiagnosed heart condition and suffered a heart attack on Oct. 24, 1971, when a blood clot became detached after he was tackled.
Update, Jan. 30: On Jan. 28, Hamlin spoke publicly about his injury for the first time in a “thank you” video that he shared on his Instagram page.
Editor’s note: FactCheck.org is one of several organizations working with Facebook to debunk misinformation shared on social media. Our previous stories can be found here. Facebook has no control over our editorial content.
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Damar Hamlin (@HamlinIsland). “Not home quite just yet [home]. Still doing & passing a bunch of test. Special thank-you to Buffalo General it’s been nothing but love since arrival! Keep me in y’all prayers please! #3strong.” Twitter. 10 Jan 2023.
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