Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was released from the University of Cincinnati medical center after he was stretchered off the field with head and neck injuries in the second quarter of the Thursday Night Football matchup against the Bengals.
Tagovailoa hit his back after a hit by Bengals nose tackle Josh Tupou, and his arms seized up immediately. He was on the field for 10 minutes before being carted away, to the crowd chanting “Tua! Tua!”
Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel spoke about the team’s concerns after their loss to the Bengals. “It’s an emotional moment. It’s not a part of the deal you sign up for. His teammates and myself were very concerned, but he got checked out and it’s nothing more serious than a concussion.”
The Dolphins organization said that the star quarterback flew back to Miami with the team following his release.
Yet, the controversy and investigation is only beginning into the safety of Tua Tagovailoa playing the Thursday night matchup at all.
On Sunday, during the Dolphins win against the Buffalo Bills, Tagovailoa hit his head during a tackle, got up to return to the huddle and stumbled to the ground. He went through concussion protocols during halftime but ultimately returned to finish the game. The team listed the injury as a back injury.
The National Football League Players Association initially requested a review of the Miami Dolphins concussion protocols as he made a quick return to the Sunday game citing that “Player health and safety is at the core of the union’s mission.”
Following the concussion on Thursday, the NFLPA said it will “pursue every legal option,” investigating whether Tagovailoa should have even stepped foot onto the field in Cincinnati on Thursday night, according to Bleacher Report.
McDaniel doubled down post game about whether the organization could have done anything differently on Sunday following the injury. “Absolutely zero patience for or will ever put a player in position for them to be in harm’s way. That’s not what I’m about at all. No outcome of a game would influence me to be irresponsible as a head coach of a football team.”
Even though Tagovailoa was listed as questionable leading up to the Thursday game against the Bengals, some were wary of the injury report. Founding CEO of the Concussion Legacy Foundation tweeted before the game saying that it would be “a massive step back for concussion care in the NFL” if Tagovailoa played the game. NFL DIrector of the Pro Football Network tweeted that “we need all the information legally possible to get to the bottom” of whether it was a back or head injury, citing that Tua looked fine in practices throughout the week. Though, concussions can be tricky to diagnose and players can even look normal while dealing with a concussion, as the CDC notes. Because of the long-term damaging effects of concussions, there should be no gray area without a full diagnosis of whether a player is fit to play, given the severity of having two concussions in less than a week.
It is great news to hear that Tua Tagovailoa was conscious before the end of the game and was able to fly home with the team. The NFL world continues to keep him in their thoughts for a safe recovery.