One Take on Tagovailoa's Hit: 'How Are We So Stupid in 2022'

NFL, Dolphins have been under fire after 24-year-old QB was injured just days after similar injury
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 30, 2022 9:13 AM CDT
Updated Oct 1, 2022 7:00 AM CDT
A Prescient Warning Was Issued Before Tagovailoa's Hit
Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is examined after Thursday night's hit in Cincinnati.   (AP Photo/Jeff Dean)

(This story has been updated with comments from Tagovailo.) The NFL has another controversy on its hands related to concussions after a scary incident Thursday night involving Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. Coverage:

  • The hit: The Dolphins' 24-year-old quarterback got sacked in the second quarter and his head came down hard on the ground. His arms appeared to seize, and he was on the field about 10 minutes before being loaded onto a stretcher and taken to a hospital, reports ESPN. He was discharged from the hospital later that night and appears to be OK, though details were scant, per ProFootball Talk.
  • The other hit: The reason it's causing so much controversy is because Tagovailoa also suffered a big hit Sunday in which his head hit the turf and he stumbled returning to the huddle, per ESPN. The QB left that game, underwent the league's concussion protocol at halftime, and was allowed to return. The Dolphins later said it was his back, not his head, that was hurt on the play. But much skepticism surrounded that decision, notes the New York Times. And Thursday night's second injury is compounding it.
  • QB statement: In a statement Friday, Tagovailoa said "it was difficult to not be able to finish the game and be there with my teammates, but I am grateful for the support." He offered thanks to his team, family and friends, and fans, noting, "I'm feeling much better and focused on recovering" so he can get back to playing. It's not clear when exactly that will be: On Friday, Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel told reporters, "I'm not even really thinking about timetables," per Yahoo Sports. "It's all about Tua the person. ... We're just worried about him getting healthy."

  • Prescient warning: Before Thursday's game, Chris Nowinski of the Concussion Legacy Foundation issued this warning, per the AP: "If Tua takes the field tonight, it's a massive step back for concussion care in the NFL. If he has a 2nd concussion that destroys his season or career, everyone involved will be sued and should lose their jobs, coaches included. We all saw it, even they must know this isn't right." After the game, Nowinski tweeted that "this is a disaster," adding, "Fire the medical staffs and coaches. ... Two concussions in 5 days can kill someone. ... How are we so stupid in 2022."
  • Investigation: The NFL Players Association says it will investigate whether Tagovailoa should have been allowed to play at all against Cincinnati on Thursday, given what happened against Buffalo on Sunday. "We insisted on these rules to avoid exactly this scenario," says the group in a statement. "We will pursue every legal option, including making referrals against the doctors to licensing agencies and the team that is obligated to keep our players safe.”
  • Accountability: At Yahoo Sports, Mike Florio writes that he posed questions to the league on Sunday on what criteria the Dolphins used to let him return in that game. Did they just take the QB's word for it that his back and not his head was injured? "It doesn't matter if Tua cleared every possible cognitive test that they administered," writes Florio. "They still were required BY RULE to determine that the gross motor instability did not have a neurological cause." The NFLPA investigation will presumably try to answer these questions.
  • Fencing: The term "fencing" is being used in coverage, a reference to the odd movement of Tagovailoa's hands after he hit the turf on Thursday. When "a person experiences an impact that’s strong enough to cause traumatic brain injury, such as a concussion, their arms often go into an unnatural position," per Healthline.com. As the AP notes, this appeared to happen to the quarterback: His "fingers flexed awkwardly in front of his facemask for several seconds as he laid on the turf." (You can see for yourself here.)

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