Fact check: Baseless conspiracy theory spreads about Buffalo Bills player Damar Hamlin dying

The claim: Damar Hamlin is dead

A Jan. 23 Facebook post (direct link, archived link) presents a conspiracy theory about Buffalo Bills player Damar Hamlin that has circulated widely in recent days.

"Damar Hamlin is dead folks," reads the post. "The guy yesterday was just a stage they can't afford for this to come out bc he died on national tv. Not been funny but he dropped dead like a fly basically."

The post accumulated over 70 shares in less than a week. Similar claims have spread widely on Facebook, Twitter and elsewhere, particularly among conspiracy theorists such as QAnon backers and far-right radio host Stew Peters.

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Our rating: False

Hamlin, who went into cardiac arrest on Jan. 2, recovered from the incident, according to doctors who treated him. He is not dead. His teammate also said that it was Hamlin, not a body double, who appeared at the Jan. 22 game referenced in the post.

Hamlin recovered from cardiac arrest

Hamlin went into cardiac arrest after tackling Cincinnati Bengals receiver Tee Higgins during a Jan. 2 game. Cardiac arrest occurs when the heart abruptly loses its normal rhythm and stops pumping blood.

But contrary to the post’s claim, Hamlin did not die. He was resuscitated on the field and taken to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center for treatment. The doctors who treated him held a press conference three days later on Jan. 5 and said Hamlin had made a "fairly remarkable recovery." He was then transferred to the Buffalo General Medical Center on Jan. 9 and released two days later.

Hamlin has also made appearances after the incident. For example, he shared a photo of himself in the hospital on Twitter on Jan, 8, had a Facetime call with Philadelphia Eagles running back Miles Sanders on the same day and posted an Instagram photo of himself to his personal account on Jan. 22.

The post’s claim that a different person staged Hamlin's appearance at an NFL playoff game on Jan. 22 is also baseless. Hamlin's teammate, Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen, refuted the claim in a Jan. 24 interview with ESPN host Kyle Brandt on Brandt's podcast.

"There's absolutely zero chance,” Allen said in the interview. “That's the Damar Hamlin, that's our guy, our brother. He was with us pre-game, post-game, he was up in the suite with his family, his little brother, one hundred percent. So people need to stop it."

Jordon Rooney, Hamlin's marketing representative, also tweeted that claims suggesting Hamlin was not at the playoff game are "simple-minded conspiracies."

Bills coach Sean McDermott told ESPN on Jan. 18 that Hamlin had been at the Bills facility "almost daily," including that day and the one prior.

Fact check: No proof of link between Bills player Damar Hamlin's cardiac arrest, COVID-19 vaccine

USA TODAY has debunked other claims related to Hamlin's cardiac arrest, including baseless assertions that his injury was linked to the COVID-19 vaccine and that CNN reported that his cardiac arrest was due to a COVID-19 booster.

USA TODAY reached out to the social media users who shared the claim for comment.

BBC News, AFP Fact Check and VERIFY debunked the claim.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: False claim that Buffalo Bills player Damar Hamlin is dead