Buffalo Bills' Dion Dawkins was hospitalized for four days during COVID-19 bout

Emily Adams
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Buffalo Bills offensive tackle Dion Dawkins told reporters Tuesday he was hospitalized for four days with COVID-19 and questioned whether he would fully recover.

Dawkins said he had received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine but was still within the two-week period that the vaccine needs to fully take effect when he began experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. He lost 15 pounds during the experience.

"Being in the hospital was probably the hardest part," said Dawkins, who was placed on the COVID-19 reserve list on July 28. "I was like man, I'm in the hospital, my team is out there working and I'm here. I'm not helping if I'm not present. They had me on fluids. They were just trying to get me back."

Dawkins added the bout took a mental toll on him and left him doubting whether he would bounce back.

“I was extremely emotional, extremely emotional. Like I didn't even think that I was that emotional," Dawkins said. "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.’ I was down bad where I could barely move and I was just hurting. 

“But you keep pushing; God has a way of doing stuff and making things happen in your life so you can snap back and just like realize that, shoot, life can be over before you know it, regardless of what you made in life and what you did. You just got to just keep stepping and just do what's right because you never know what tomorrow brings, really.”

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Dawkins said he experienced nearly all of the common COVID-19 symptoms, including shortness of breath, fever and cough. He said he was glad he had the vaccine before he contracted COVID-19 because he believes his symptoms could have been even worse if he had been unvaccinated.

Though he is now back with the team, Dawkins missed a significant amount of training camp while he was out, and Bills head coach Sean McDermott said that it will be a long process to get his starting left tackle back into competitive form. 

“He's not close to where he needs to be to play and help us,” McDermott told the Buffalo News. “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 to where he's – I mean, this is what, going on week four of training camp at this point? So, he's missed a lot of time.”

Dawkins said he has been open with his teammates about his COVID-19 experience since returning to the Bills.

"The first reaction was always 'Dang, Dion, you skinny,' but overall it was guys just wanting knowledge of what was going on and how it made me feel," he said. "I told them the honest truth of what I went through with the quarantine period, being away from my family and being alone...and letting them understand that that's a point you really don't want to get to, especially when ball is going on." 

Although over 80% of the Bills players are vaccinated, the team has faced controversy in recent weeks amid wide receiver Cole Beasley's comments about his refusal to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Beasley has repeatedly criticized the NFL's transparency around COVID-19 policies and got into a back-and-forth on Twitter with teammate Jerry Hughes.

"To defend Bease, that's my brother. We're all here together, and I don't think he's downplaying [the vaccine and COVID-19]," Dawkins said. "I just think he's downplaying the knowledge that was given to him...The knowledge that was given in the world — not from the facility, from the world — for Bease, it just wasn't enough for him to make a decision."

Dawkins said he chose to get vaccinated because his son was born prematurely and had underdeveloped lungs, so he wanted to avoid putting his son at risk. Dawkins said he also considered the NFL's COVID-19 policies, which state that an outbreak among unvaccinated players could result in an unpaid forfeit for the responsible team if the game cannot be resheduled.

Though he is glad to have gotten the vaccine, Dawkins said he does not believe that all players should be required to receive it.

"I don't think I could ever say everybody should go ahead and do it, because everybody's life is different," Dawkins said. "Like, there's some people that believe in god and there's some people that don't, so to put everyone in one basket, I can't find myself doing that. I think the proper way to answer that is that I just want people to get the research...and then go on with your decision."

Contact Emily Adams at eaadams@gannett.com or on Twitter @eaadams6.

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