Following Damar Hamlin’s collapse from cardiac arrest during an NFL game on January 2, 2023, an unsubstantiated claim emerged, suggesting that he had passed away due to the COVID-19 vaccine, and a purported “body double” had replaced him at public appearances.
Weeks after his cardiac arrest, on January 22, 2023, Damar Hamlin appeared at the team’s stadium to attend a playoff game. However, his attire—a red outfit, hoodie, mask, and glasses—covered his head, sparking online rumors that questioned whether he was genuinely present or substituted by someone else after his alleged demise from the COVID vaccine. Nevertheless, these allegations proved to be baseless. Reputable news sources, the Bills’ official social media accounts, and the NFL confirmed Hamlin’s attendance at the game. Consequently, these claims were rated as “False.”
Various social media posts pointed to videos of Hamlin entering the game with his head concealed, fueling conspiracy theories. The idea of “body doubles” often arises on the internet following the death or health crises of public figures, although it has been debunked numerous times. Some posts not only suggested the presence of a stand-in for Hamlin but also falsely linked his medical emergency to the COVID vaccine.
Suppose Hamlin had passed away due to any cause, especially vaccine complications. In such a scenario, official records documenting the cause and time of death would exist and be accessible through routine checks by journalists. However, no such records were found, further discrediting the unfounded claims.
Hamlin himself indirectly addressed the theories by posting a photo alongside a wall mural, captioned “Clone,” and appeared at the stadium, covered, in footage shared by the Buffalo Bills’ official Twitter account. He was seen gesturing to the crowd and making his signature “heart” sign from a private room, although his visibility was limited due to weather conditions in video footage posted by the NFL.
Buffalo Bills’ coach Sean McDermott mentioned that Hamlin had been gradually returning to the stadium, meeting teammates and showing signs of recovery after his on-field cardiac arrest. While his decision to conceal his face remains unclear, further details from the Buffalo Bills may shed light on the matter.