Bills TE Tommy Sweeney out for season after developing heart condition linked to COVID-19

Ryan Young
·Writer
·3 min read

Buffalo Bills tight end Tommy Sweeney will miss the rest of the season after developing myocarditis following his bout with COVID-19 last month, coach Sean McDermott announced on Monday.

Sweeney was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Oct. 24. The team hoped to have him back at practice this week, but team doctors discovered myocarditis, a heart issue known to potentially impact those who have contracted the coronavirus.

“It’s unfortunate,” McDermott said, via Syracuse.com. “He’s had a rough year with the injury the early part of the year, and then now with the COVID and then the residual piece of the COVID, it appears from my position. It’s unfortunate but we know that he’s a good football player and we know he’s a guy that we believe in and can’t wait to get back on the field when we can here.”

Sweeney played in six games for the Bills last season, his first with the team after Buffalo scooped him up in the seventh round of the 2019 NFL draft out of Boston College. He had eight receptions for 114 yards. He has been sidelined with a foot injury all season.

Tommy Sweeney is NFL’s first known case of myocarditis

Myocarditis, according to the Mayo Clinic, is the inflammation of the heart muscle which can impact the organ’s electrical system and reduce its ability to pump or cause abnormal rhythms. It can lead to heart failure, heart attacks or strokes, and even sudden cardiac death.

Myocarditis has been found in patients who have battled the coronavirus, including in several athletes. Boston Red Sox pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez was diagnosed with the disease after several months of battling the coronavirus. He described his illness as “the sickest” he has ever felt, and as if he was “100 years old.” Georgia State quarterback Mikele Colasurdo was initially thought to have been diagnosed with myocarditis, but was later cleared to play.

Myocarditis was also part of the reason that the Big Ten conference was hesitant to play its football season this fall. One Ohio State study found that four of 26 athletes tested at the university showed signs of myocarditis in September.

Bills tight end Tommy Sweeney
Buffalo Bills tight end Tommy Sweeney was diagnosed with myocarditis, a heart disease linked to COVID-19. (Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire/Getty Images)

Sweeney is the first NFL player known to have been diagnosed with myocarditis.

There have been more than 12.4 million confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the United States as of Monday afternoon, according to The New York Times, and more than 257,000 deaths attributed to it. The country set several case records last week, and is averaging more than 171,000 new cases a day.

The NFL had a new wave of coronavirus cases on Monday. Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list, just a day after racking up 123 receiving yards and two touchdowns against the Dallas Cowboys. The Baltimore Ravens closed their facility briefly Monday, too, after running backs Mark Ingram and J.K. Dobbins tested positive for the coronavirus.

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