It’s been more than 24 hours since Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin experienced a heart attack on the football field in Cincinnati. No doubt this situation would have garnered the nation’s attention, but considering it happened live on Monday Night Football — with the Bills and Bengals sharing the football’s world lone stage of the night for Week 17’s final game — it took off.
Initially, we reported on Hamlin’s injury as best we could — based on reports from others in the media who were on location able to provide the information they had.
I started my career in sports journalism. I spent more than 20 years covering athletics at various levels. I’ve seen scary injuries — bones that have broken through the skin, concussions that have left players visibly dazed and confused, ACL tears…the list could go on.
But never have I seen anything close to what we saw live on Monday Night Football. The closest thing would have been an umpire in Little League taking a foul ball off the throat and going down. But he got up after a handful of minutes.
First things first, everyone who prays should have spent time the last couple of days praying for Damar Hamlin, his family, his teammates, Tee Higgins (the Bengals player who collided with Hamlin on the play) and anyone else affected by the tragedy.
The sincere hope is that Hamlin makes a full recovery, which would be nothing short of a miracle.
We can also, of course, give thanks and credit to the medical staff at the game for getting Hamlin’s heart to start beating once again and helping him have a fighting chance at continuing his life.
It is an incident that cannot be properly summed up by the term “tragedy.”
The NFL made the right decision in postponing the game, even though it took the league longer than it should have to reach that conclusion.
We saw the country come together and unite as Hamlin’s foundation on Go Fund Me has raised $5.957 million as of Wednesday, Jan. 4 at 1:26 a.m. Iowa time. The Go Fund Me’s original goal was $2,500.
We saw the football world come together and reject rivalries and instead rally around Hamlin and the Buffalo Bills, as it should.
All of that goes without saying. Thoughts and prayers for healing, strength, courage, peace, wisdom and comfort for Hamlin, his family, his football team and his medical team in the coming days and weeks.
But there’s also been the part that plenty of people have surprisingly had little problem bringing up — could his injury possibly have been made worse by the COVID shot?
Now that we’ve pivoted, and yes, we’ve pivoted. If you don’t want to read about “speculation” or “opinion” on anything related to this situation, stop now and save yourself the time. Close the browser window. You’re not going to hurt my feelings. I completely understand and I completely get it.
But, for those willing or wanting to flesh things out a little bit more, I want to put my thoughts in writing.
First things first, I know there are privacy issues as it relates to vaccine status, but it would benefit EVERYONE to know if Hamlin has indeed received a COVID shot. Why?
Because if he hasn’t, all of this back-and-forth online and in the media is for nothing. If he hasn’t been vaccinated, I can’t see any harm at all in disclosing that. (I say that knowing his vaccination status is the least of his or his family’s concern right now).
Second thing, I highly, highly, highly doubt that Hamlin was given his second booster by the random on Twitter who said he administered it. Information comes at us fast, folks. But we must not lose our ability to discern whether that information is likely true, likely false or simply impossible to know.
And spreading rumors aren’t helpful. I’ve seen people speculate he had a previous cardio incident, he received his second booster the day after Christmas and other things. There’s little to no proof of any of those things being true. Until we know or have evidence to support any of those things being accurate, we shouldn’t share them.
Third thing, whether the incident was compounded by Hamlin being vaccinated matters and it matters a lot. We agree on very little in today’s world, yet every expert in sports and sports media agreed on one thing on Monday night — they have never seen anything like this. Never. Ever.
To be clear, there have been far, far, far more dangerous hits on the football field. In fact, had that game been played out and Hamlin not collapsed, this hit wouldn’t even have been considered for replay. It wouldn’t have been one of the 10 hardest hits of the game I’d wager.
Now, I understand (as well as I can after watching medical expert after medical expert explain it) that commotio cordis likely has as much to do with extremely unlikely timing as it does the veracity of the contact. I get that.
I am not suggesting what happened wasn’t commotio cordis. I’m not going to pretend to be able to say it was or it wasn’t.
But what I do know is that in all the years of watching football, at various levels, neither I nor anyone I know has seen anything like it. Ever.
This means we have to ask ourselves what change or recent change could have impacted this.
We cannot, cannot, cannot get to a point where we cannot question. Look, I get it, for a lot of people “anti-vaxxers” and those who are “hesitant” to get the COVID shot are kooky. I don’t agree with that, at all, but I understand that is the position a number of people hold.
I wish they didn’t. But they do.
I understand they may have concerns about those of us who question the shot, but do they understand we have concerns about those who blindly follow?
Not going to get into the scientific debate, but knowing what we know about vaccines and typical vaccine production and testing — I’ll never for the life of me understand how anyone can believe it is possible to know for certain that the COVID shots are safe.
But I get it, my nature as a journalist is to be skeptical and to question everything. They used to teach journalists to do that, anyway, though I’m not certain that is the goal any longer.
We know people are dying unexpectedly and suddenly. People who are young. People who by all accounts are otherwise healthy.
We know that. I hope we can agree on that.
To be fair, tragedy has always existed. There have always been untimely, unexplained deaths. This isn’t new.
But boy, I don’t know how we can honestly think it’s ever been seen at this scale or at this magnitude.
There are thousands if not millions of websites out there that will tell you what you want to hear or point to this study or that study or this doctor or that doctor who presents information that you want to hear and want to be true because if true it will confirm your preconceived notions.
I think if we’re being honest, regardless of our vaccine status, we all want to know if these shots are responsible for an increase in cardiac issues for young people and other serious side effects. At least I hope that is the case.
I’m not convinced science can give us the answers either way soon enough, unfortunately. Millions of Americans had a substance injected into their bodies in the last couple of years for various reasons. Many didn’t want it. Most might have, I don’t know. But I know many, many, many didn’t. Yet they did it anyway for one reason or another.
Let’s be honest, though. There are some things we do know.
We do know that the same people who told us the vaccine is safe and effective told us masks were unnecessary at first, and then masks were lifesavers. They were wrong about the transmission of the virus, believing it was spread on surfaces, which is what led to playgrounds being shut down. They only discussed fear, never bringing up actual, tangible health advice. They shut down gyms. They arrested people for walking on the beach or surfing by themselves. They were wrong about repurposing drugs for early treatment and went even further by attacking and threatening anyone who promoted the practice. They labeled Ivermectin a “horse dewormer” despite it was likely already identified as being helpful for coronaviruses. They encouraged moms who were pregnant or nursing to get the shot without disclosing the spike protein could be transmitted. They denied the shot could impact menstruation as a “biological impossibility,” though it has been confirmed false in the Washington Post.
And, of course, they denied the existence and importance of natural immunity.
We know that they said if you get the vaccine, you will not get COVID. We know they said that. How? Because there is video. Now, I spent a fair amount of time searching for this video — which is quite telling. But here:
Deborah Birx admitted she knew from the beginning the vaccines would not protect from infection. She literally said they overplayed the vaccines:
Dr. Anthony Fauci said those who were fully vaccinated were very unlikely to spread COVID. He suggested the vaccinated may be a “dead end” to COVID. He said those vaccinated would not spread the virus beyond themselves.
Those statements simply are not true. No matter how you feel about the vaccine or the virus, they’re demonstrably false.
The same people who we’re trusting to tell us something being injected into our bodies is safe are the same people who have been wrong over and over and over again the last few years.
Now, you may not like the fact that they lied to you about all of those things. You may wish you could go back in time and make a different choice. But that doesn’t change the fact they lied to you. And denying they lied to you only allows them to lie to you again. And again. And again.
I am of the notion to trust, but verify.
I’ve seen videos of other individuals across the world the last two years suddenly collapsing. I’ve seen them with my own two eyes.
And the same people who were consistently wrong the last few years are the same people telling us “no, no, no. It can’t be the vaccines.”
And they’ll tell us in a matter of minutes, without any verifiable proof or evidence it isn’t the vaccine. Now, to be clear, not all of these incidents may be caused by the vaccine, but it is possible many if not most if not darn near all are fueled by the vaccine — if that makes sense.
No matter your position, COVID vaccine champion or COVID shot critic, you should want the truth. But you’ll never find the truth if you never look for it. You’ll never find answers to questions if you never allow the questions to be asked.
I don’t believe someone is crazy for questioning the vaccines. I don’t believe someone is crazy for trusting the vaccines. I have my own personal opinions, but I can easily understand where someone derives questioning the vaccines as well as where someone derives trust in the vaccines.
I think I’ve made clear my own position. But I am open to being wrong. And unfortunately, I do not think the other side of this discussion is willing to consider they could be wrong.
I believe there should be a spot on death certificates in the country to mark if someone received a COVID shot. We can’t have a spot to signify if they are vaccinated because they changed the definition of “vaccinated.”
But I believe that information should be tracked.
I believe when it is publicly reported that someone “dies suddenly” the COVID shot history should be disclosed.
I know this is medical information that is best left private, but I also know they had no problem asking people for the same information went they wanted to shop somewhere, attend a sporting event, fly, etc.
I mean, your privacy means a lot more when you’re alive than it does when you’re dead, right?
Ultimately I believe we should all want answers. In order to get answers, we have to ask the questions.
I am sorry that Damar Hamlin, his family, the Buffalo Bills, the Cincinnati Bengals, the NFL and anyone else impacted by this situation has to see this situation spur this discussion.
But something has to. Something has to happen that at least allows the questions to be asked. I hope this will be enough for people to stop, pause and pursue answers and truth. I hope it doesn’t take something worse.
There are reasons for not wanting the questions asked. It may be that some of us fear the answers, therefore we fear the questions.
But our family, our friends, our neighbors, our fellow citizens and our world deserve to know the truth — no matter what it is and no matter where it leads.
The harm the truth reveals may be much less damaging than the harm done by keeping it hidden.
We will not know until we know.
Let’s agree to find out.
I don’t want to sound like an ass .. but if I went to Walmart and there was a sign on the door saying closed because one of the employees was in a bad accident not sure when we will open..I would think that is odd and most businesses I feel the same ..obviously a family run business is different than a big business.. but I don’t think we should fault the nfl taking time to make a decision.. few years ago I got rushed to the ER for a heart problem kitchen kept going and I could finish my shift after hours of tests but nobody said we need to close the kitchen it’s the only thing to do
Well done Jacob Hall. The Pharma companies have been successful in dividing the vaxed against the unvaxed. Hence, even bringing up the points you made here is “insensitive”. I hope that the incident on MNF forces the discussion out in the open. Most are thinking it anyway, kudos to you for your courage and willingness to put it in writing.