The National Football League (NFL) is facing pressure to offer cardiac screenings for players due to evidence that the COVID vaccine causes heart inflammation. The Health Freedom Defense Fund sent a letter urging that players be tested and screened to determine whether they have been adversely affected by the controversial shots and that a long-term surveillance program be implemented to protect player’s health.1
The letter states:
Safety signals illustrate that the near and long-term health outcomes of the COVID-19 vaccines remain uncertain, however, a multitude of adverse reactions to these injections, including myocarditis, are wide ranging and confirmed, and as such, prudence dictates that the NFLPA investigate the extent to which the COVID-19 shots may have resulted in injury, compromised health or death of players.2
NFL Strong Armed Players into Getting COVID Shots
The NFL implemented strict COVID containment policy guidelines and aggressively encouraged players to get the COVID shot to encourage compliance. The guidelines stated that should a game have to be forfeited and not be able to be rescheduled due to an outbreak of SARS-CoV-2 infection among unvaccinated players, the team with the outbreak would receive a loss for the game. No players from either team would be paid for the forfeiture and the team with the outbreak would be financially liable for any losses and be disciplined by the NFL. This approach appeared to rely upon peer pressure and shaming of players and secured a 95 percent COVID vaccination rate among NFL football players.3
The Health Freedom Defense Fund’s letter signed by founder Leslie Manookian referenced several studies showing a connection between the COVID shots and myocarditis and pericarditis, especially in young males. Myocarditis is inflammation of the heart muscle. Pericarditis is inflammation of the outer lining of the heart.4
One study conducted by the Surgeon General of Florida showed a statistically significant increase in cardiac deaths 28-days after receiving a COVID shot especially in the 25- to 39-year-old and 60 and over age groups. Another study found that there was a risk of myocarditis and pericarditis after receiving the messenger RNA (mRNA) shots, especially among young adults after the second dose. Other cardiac events were also reported such as arrhythmia, hypertension, acute coronary syndrome and cardiac arrest.5
We have a growing body of scientific evidence showing that there is a risk to young males in particular, and many of them have some critical cardiac problems.6
Manookin wants the screenings to be available to all players, but she does not advocate mandating screenings. While screening increases the likelihood of detecting myocarditis, a positive test result does not necessarily mean that a player’s career will be over. A March 2021 study showed that five athletes out of 789 tested, whose screenings showed signs of myocarditis or pericarditis after a SARS-CoV-2 infection (not vaccination) and who subsequently took a six-month break from play, were able to return to play without any cardiac events.7 8
Football Player Collapses and Suffers a Heart Attack on the Field
When Buffalo Bills’ Damar Hamlin suffered a cardiac arrest on the football field earlier this year, it was widely speculated that he was suffering from an adverse reaction to the COVID shot.9 Hamlin was in critical condition in the hospital before he was released nine days later. There have been conflicting reports as to what happened to Hamlin, with some speculating the hit to his chest prior to his collapse caused an arrhythmia and others claiming the heart attack was an adverse reaction to the COVID shot.10
In an interview, Hamlin remained tight lipped and refused to speculate about what caused his heart attack, only commenting that he was still undergoing testing.11 On an on-air interview when Hamlin was asked how the doctors explained what had happened when he collapsed, he took a long pause and said, “Umm, that’s something I want to stay away from.”12
When asked whether he was ever told he had any heart issues in previous physicals, Hamlin admitted:
Honestly, no. I’ve always been a healthy, young, fit, energetic human being, let alone athlete. So it was something that [we’re] still processing, and I’m still talking through my doctors to see what everything.
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1 Stieber Z. NFL Players Association Urged to Screen for Heart Issues Over Vaccine Side Effects. The Epoch Times Feb. 16, 2023.
2 Health Freedom Defense Fund. Jan. 27, 2023.
3 Gavin M. Latest NFL rules on COVID, fan vaccinations and positive cases. NBC Sports Aug. 3, 2022.
4 U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Myocarditis and Pericarditis. Sep. 27, 2022.
5 Health Freedom Defense Fund. Jan. 27, 2023.
6 Stieber Z. NFL Players Association Urged to Screen for Heart Issues Over Vaccine Side Effects. The Epoch Times Feb. 16, 2023.
8 Martinez M, Tucker A, Bloom O. Prevalence of Inflammatory Heart Disease Among Professional Athletes With Prior COVID-19 Infection Who Received Systematic Return-to-Play Cardiac Screening. JAMA Cardiol 2021; 6(7): 745-752.
9 Norton,T. Was Damar Hamlin’s Cardiac Arrest Related To Covid-19 Vaccine? What We Know. Newsweek Jan. 4, 2023.
10 Czachor EM. Damar Hamlin discharged from Buffalo hospital 9 days after suffering cardiac arrest during a game. CBS News Jan. 11, 2023.
11 Kohli A. The Biggest Revelations From Damar Hamlin’s Interview About His On-the-Field Collapse. TIME Feb. 13, 2023.
12 Philips J. Damar Hamlin Is Asked About Why His Heart Stopped: ‘Something I Want to Stay Away From’. The Epoch Times Feb. 14, 2023.