Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin is taking aim at the bizarre conspiracy theories that arose after his appearance at the team’s playoff game on Sunday.
After suffering cardiac arrest in the team’s Week 17 game against the Cincinnati Bengals and being hospitalized for nine days, Hamlin has returned to Buffalo to start his long recovery process. He returned to the team facility last week and was able to attend his team’s divisional-round playoff game against the Bengals on January 22, sitting in a luxury booth and being shown on the video board inside the stadium.
But Hamlin’s appearance — where he sat behind a tinted window in a luxury booth with his face partially obscured by a mask — gave rise to conspiracy theories that the team had replaced the second-year safety with a body double.
On Monday, Hamlin took to Twitter to poke fun at the theory.
Damar Hamlin Addresses ‘Body Double’ Theories in Viral Post
As Newsweek’s Yevgeny Kuklychev noted, conspiracy theories around Hamlin’s collapse started flooding social media within hours of the incident.
“Even before any official statements had been made addressing the possible causes, Covid- and vaccine-related misinformation flooded social media, with Hamlin’s name getting dragged into familiar ‘collapsed/died suddenly’ anti-vaccine conspiracy narratives in the ensuing weeks,” Kuklychev noted.
Those theories arose again after Hamlin appeared at Sunday’s game, with some claiming that it was not really the Bills safety who appeared at the game but instead a body double. Others noted that his full face could not be seen in videos shared by the team, or the posts that Hamlin had made earlier in the week.
Hamlin appeared to address the controversy on Monday, sharing a picture of himself posing in front of a mural showing him in uniform making a heart sign with his hands.
“Clone,” Hamlin wrote in the caption.
Bills Teammates Thrilled With Hamlin’s Return
Though the Bills saw their Super Bowl hopes dashed in a 27-10 loss to the Bengals, many of Hamlin’s teammates said they were happy to see him back at the stadium. Bills center Mitch Morse said Hamlin was able to visit teammates at halftime of the Bengals game, giving a boost to his teammates.
“Just his presence I think speaks volumes,” Morse said, via ESPN. “He’s not a big rah-rah guy and I’m sure that at some point he’s a little bit exhausted of people asking how he’s doing or put in a position that he didn’t ask to be put in. His presence alone, his smile, his positive energy, which he’s always had, always interjects energy and good vibes with the group.”
Hamlin still faces a long recovery ahead. Jordon Rooney, a family spokesperson, said last week that he is still weak from the ordeal and will need ongoing monitoring.
“Damar still requires oxygen and is having his heart monitored regularly to ensure there are no setbacks or after effects,” Rooney said, via CBS News. “Though he is able to visit the team’s facility, Damar is not in position to travel often, and requires additional rest to help his body heal.”