The 25-year-old safety announced that doctors have given him the green light to play football again after suffering cardiac arrest on the field in a Monday Night Football game vs. the Cincinnati Bengals on Jan. 2.
After making a hit on Bengals receiver Tee Higgins, Hamlin collapsed. His fate hung in the balance for several days as an anxious world, including non-football fans who heard the story and prayed for his recovery, waited for him to wake up.
In the meantime, a dormant GoFundMe with a $2500 goal to finance a toy drive Hamlin did for kids in his Pennsylvania hometown raised $9 million for his charity, the Chasing M’s Foundation, with an outpouring of donations.
Hamlin woke up two days later and began a long road to recovery. In the meantime, social media speculation blamed his cardiac arrest on a reaction to the COVID-19 vaccine, which Hamlin never even confirmed he’s had. When he returned to watch a Bills game at Highmark Stadium from a luxury suite on a snowy day in Buffalo, he was obscured by falling snow. That only added to the conspiracy theories, including that a body double was actually attending the game.
It turns out the initial speculation by doctors and other medical authorities was correct.
Hamlin confirms that what led to his collapse was commotio cordis, which is when a blow to the chest at a specific moment in the heartbeat pattern causes the heart to stop. Although it is rare, at a press conference Tuesday, Hamlin said it is the leading cause of cardiac arrest in young athletes.
“My heart is still in it,” Hamlin said. “My heart is still in the game. I love the game. It’s something I want to prove to myself, not nobody else. Fear is a choice. You can keep going without having the answers and without knowing what’s at the end of the tunnel.”
He added, “You might feel anxious, you might feel any type of way but you just keep putting that right foot in front of the left one and you keep going. I want to stand for that.”
Hamlin is also standing for greater awareness around heart health. He’s advocating for the use of AEDs (automated external defibrillators), which can save people in a cardiac event.
He visited the White House earlier this month to meet with President Biden to support the bipartisan legislation access to AEDs which would make them more available at schools across the nation.
While Hamlin’s happy to return to the field, Twitter’s not too sure about his decision. See how social media’s reacting below.
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