For the first time since being activated off the Reserve/COVID-19 list, Buffalo Bills left tackle Dion Dawkins spoke with the media. Not only did he confirm he tested positive for the coronavirus, but that he spent four days in the hospital battling the disease calling it “one of the lowest points in my life.”
He says he had received both of his coronavirus vaccine doses and was just a couple days from being considered fully vaccinated and out of the two-week window when he tested positive.
“Being in the hospital was probably the hardest part. I’m in the hospital, my team is out there working, and I’m here. I’m not helping if I’m not present,” said Dawkins. “I think I was there for like four days. It was just getting fluid trying to get me back.”
Dawkins says he lost 15 pounds, going from 333 to 318, but he’s been putting on three to four pounds per day now that he’s eating three meals a day again after losing his appetite. He listed all his symptoms including his loss of animation and mental impact:
“If there’s a checklist for it, it was everything. It was shortness of breath, it was the hot and cold, it was the cough, it was the dehydration.”
He said he was nervous for his future and even questioned whether he was going to live through it. He was emotional because of how it affected his mental state. He wondered how a professional athlete could be cut down so thoroughly and how normal folks who don’t work out and aren’t coming from offseason conditioning could handle the symptoms. He thought about his own mortality and how quickly it can end.
After being activated from the COVID-19 list late last week, Dawkins practiced for the fist time on Sunday. He had been doing conditioning work prior to his activation. He was worked into first-team reps on Monday, but he says he’s nowhere near 100%.
“It’s starting to come back, my conditioning,” explained Dawkins. “It took a hit. That’s all a part of it, but I’m starting to feel more and more like myself every day. I’m hitting the field without overstressing it and I’m just rocking out.”
Buffalo’s first game is September 12th, roughly a month after his return. He gave credit to the training staff, doctors, and the strength staff. Dawkins doesn’t sound worried about missing any regular season time due to the symptoms, however.
“[Sean] McDermott’s practices, they are tough. So I think the more of the practices that I go through, and push through, I’ll be perfectly fine,” assured Dawkins. “The symptoms aren’t loud. I’m still tired in practice. We just got through warmups and I’m like, ‘Can I get a water?’ That’s all a part of it. I’m just glad I’m back in [what] I feel [is] enough time to get myself ready.”
Noting that everyone else had a ramp up period where he wasn’t able to participate, he knows he’s two weeks behind in the process of getting ready for the regular season.
“The best way to get in football shape is to play football, and I have no been playing football.”
In his message that he shared with family and friends, he made sure to reach out to folks on the other side of the debate instead of shaming them. He says he’s been speaking to teammates about his quarantine period and “the whole process of everything.” Advocating research, he shared that everyone should do what is right for them.
“Honestly, truly, I didn’t know what to believe at first. There was a lot of unknown areas about COVID and the vaccine,” said Dawkins. “When I took that initiative to get vaccinated, I just wanted to do what was right. The message I would say is do what you’re most comfortable with, but I’m glad that I had the vaccine when I had COVID. I wish that I could have been fully-fully vaccinated — I was right before the fully vaccinated point. If I was fully, it would have been easier on myself.”
After his son was born prematurely in February, Dawkins says he was worried about his infant’s lungs and other complications arriving from his premature birth. That’s why he decided to get vaccinated, along with the complications from the NFL’s COVID protocols. Now, he’s serving as a wake up call for his entire family, who have now been vaccinated after watching their family member struggle through the infection.
Dawkins defended Cole Beasley, for the record, saying the receiver was not downplaying but he “just wants more knowledge”.