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Buffalo Bills left tackle Dion Dawkins said he spent four days in the hospital with the coronavirus and there were days where he didn’t know if he would survive.
“I don’t want to scare anybody, but there was moments that I was like, I don’t know if I’m gonna make this,” Dawkins said. “I was down bad where I could barely move and I was just hurting.”
Dawkins has been slowly making his way back into the lineup after being activated off the reserve/COVID-19 list on Aug. 12, and he received his most extensive work to date during team drills at Tuesday’s practice. He shared his harrowing experience afterward, calling it one of the lowest points of his life.
“I never even thought I could even get that low because I’m so animated,” Dawkins said. “And that hit hard. Even with the mental stuff, it hit every part of me and I was shocked that it could even hit that. Being in the hospital was probably the hardest part because I was like, man, I’m in the hospital and my team is out there working. And I’m here. I’m not helping if I’m not present.”
Dawkins said that he had received two doses of the vaccine, but was not fully vaccinated when he was infected; he had not yet reached the end of the two-week window following his second shot. He said the symptoms were plentiful and that he lost roughly 15 pounds because of dehydration and a reduced appetite.
“If there was a checklist for it, it was everything,” Dawkins said. “It was shortness of breath, it was the hot and cold, it was the cough, it was everything. The dehydration, all of the body stuff. Everything was just at its highest worst.”
The nature and severity of the symptoms made Dawkins wonder how others could handle the virus given that he’s a top-level athlete in the prime of his career.
“One hundred percent that was the first thing that I thought of,” Dawkins said. “I said, ‘Man, how am I a professional athlete and I’m down bad like this?’ I said, ‘I can’t imagine people who aren’t healthy and don’t work out and really don’t do anything.’ Man, just God bless them because I just got off of an offseason where I was grinding every day. And then as soon as I come back, I got hit with it. So it was just like, this is crazy but this is a world fight and I just got hit with a bullet.”
Vaccinations have been a hot-button topic for the Bills with players such as wide receiver Cole Beasley outspoken in their anti-vaccination stance. Dawkins said that he could not say that all players should be vaccinated, but added that his whole family and those closest to him decided to get vaccinated after witnessing his ordeal.
“I don’t think that I could ever say that everybody should just go ahead and do it,” Dawkins said. “Because everybody’s life is different, you know? There’s some people that believe in God, there’s some people that don’t. So to put everybody in one basket, like, I can’t find myself doing that. So I think that the proper way to answer that is I really just want people to get the research of the good and the bad and the examples and then go on your decision. But take it with a grain of salt and not like the over-emotion that goes with it, just do your research and figure out what goes best for you and your family and your situation.”
“As far as personal family, when I got hit with it, it was like dang, Dion got hit. And that’s our big dog. I know everybody (in my family) is on board now with getting vaccinated cause they don’t want to go through it like I did. I was shocked that I can impact the people that are around me so closely where they’re like, all right I’m going to go get vaccinated. But it has, yes. It has. From a trickle effect all the way through and my family, from my nephews to my mom to my dad, to my brothers and sisters, everybody. Everybody has just been on board with whatever we have to do to just try to protect ourselves as much as possible. Let’s do it.”
Bills coach Sean McDermott said on Sunday that Dawkins has a long way to go in order to be ready for the start of the season.
“He’s not close to where he needs to be to play and help us,” McDermott said. “So he’s got a long road here. He’s going to control what he can control, and so are we. He’s got to continue to work hard to get himself back ... I mean, this is what, going on Week 4 of training camp at this point, so he’s missed a lot of time.”
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Mark Ludwiczak, The Associated Press