It’s the latest unfounded conspiracy to engulf the nation: Damar Hamlin, the Buffalo Bills’ safety who went into cardiac arrest during a game on Jan. 2, actually died on the field from the COVID vaccine and has been replaced with a body-double as part of a massive cover-up by everyone from the NFL to Pfizer.
As wacky as it sounds, the nonsensical conspiracy went mainstream this week—prompting teammates and Hamlin to address suggestions he’s been cloned, while national media like the New York Post, Fox News and TMZ have covered the claims.
The conspiracy’s origins go back to the week Hamlin did nearly die. He went into cardiac arrest on the field just moments after being hit by Cincinnati Bengals’ wide receiver Tee Higgins and things looked dire.
Hamlin was unconscious as medical personnel tended to him for nearly 20 minutes before an ambulance whisked him away. Some self-proclaimed experts declared then that Hamlin wouldn’t survive, and, to save face, the NFL or vaccine producers would find a way to cover-up his death.
The conspiracies briefly lost their legs as updates emerged that Hamlin’s health was rapidly improving. He FaceTimed teammates from his hospital bed on Jan. 6 and was soon transferred to a medical facility in Buffalo then released from medical care all together—posting to social media, including photos of himself, throughout.
Conspiracists returned with vengeance this weekend, however, when Hamlin attended the Bills’ playoff game against the Bengals—where it was nearly freezing—and TV cameras never got a good shot of Hamlin’s face, which was covered with a mask and a hoodie.
At one point in the game, the broadcast cut to a shot of Hamlin pumping up the Buffalo crowd from his suite. Again, the camera zoomed in on Hamlin from across the field as heavy snow fell, so it was hard to make out his face—another detail conspiracists latched on.
Wild questions soon emerged about Hamlin: Was it a body double? How was he able to wave his arms if his ribs were broken during CPR? Why doesn’t he take his hood off? Is that a UFO???
These questions were amplified online by those who regularly push COVID and vaccine misinformation, like fired Newsmax reporter Emerald Robinson and far-right media personality Stew Peters.
“CPR – broken ribs. How is he waving his arms around like that?” posted Peters. “This man looked ready to PLAY in that game on Sunday. Never took hood down, shades off or lowered mask. Why didn’t the @NFL give a stage to Damar Hamlin for his miraculous ‘return’ to the stadium? This is FAKE.”
While it’s human nature to be intrigued by even the craziest of conspiracy theories, debunking the Damar Hamlin clone theory is an easy one, no matter how hard conspiracists try to use Hamlin’s ‘death’ as a way to further their vaccine-is-deadly nonsense.
First, there’s common sense. How would the NFL get so many people, including Hamlin’s family, friends and high-profile teammates, to partake in such an elaborate cover-up? What about the countless nurses and doctors at hospitals in Cincinnati and Buffalo?
If that isn’t enough to make you see the light, there’s plenty of physical proof that Hamlin—the real Hamlin!—is alive and well.
For starters, Hamlin posted a photo from his hospital bed on Jan. 8 that showed a majority of his face. He posted another photo on Monday—this time poking fun at those who think he’s dead—with the caption “clone” that showed him standing with his head down outside a mural in Buffalo.
Philadelphia Eagles running back Miles Sanders also posted a video on Jan. 8 of a FaceTime call with Hamlin in which he could be seen smiling and throwing up a 3 with his fingers (Hamlin wears No. 3 for the Bills).
“My boy straight man,” a joyous Sanders says in the 12-second clip.
Matthew Milano, a linebacker for the Bills, also posted a photo that clearly showed Hamlin alive and seemingly happy during a visit with teammates on Jan. 14. The photo, which showed Hamlin’s face, was widely published, even by the mainstream media, like CBS.
When asked about the ridiculous theory on the podcast “Kyle Brandt’s Basement,” Josh Allen—the Bills star quarterback—responded, “Yeah, that’s stupid.”
Allen said Hamlin covered his face over the weekend and wore a hood because that’s “his swag,” adding that he personally saw Hamlin in the Bills locker room before and after the game.
“One, that’s Damar’s swag. He likes wearing that,” an annoyed Allen said. “Two, he was in the locker room with us pre-game, so yes that was Damar.”
Allen said there is “absolutely zero chance” the conspiracies are true, sending a message to the loonies: “Stop that shit.”
In a tweet Tuesday, Hamlin thanked his supporters and promised the world that it’d hear from him soon—something that’ll hopefully put these conspiracies to bed for good.
“Thankful for all the GENUINE love, thoughts & prayers from all across the world,” Hamlin wrote. “Y’all will hear from me soon!”