After suffering two head injuries within five days, Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa sparked a new discussion about NFL safety.
After sitting out Sunday’s game against the New York Jets, Tagovailoa is now back on the practice field.
Tua Tagovailoa Returns To Practice
Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was cleared by multiple independent neurologists to return to limited football activities, including practice. The limited practice puts Tagovailoa in Phase 3 of the NFL’s return to participation protocol.
This is the first time Tagovailoa returned to practice since suffering a concussion in the Dolphins loss to the Cincinnati Bengals on September 29.
“In these situations, you are relying on all medical advice and what people can do and what we’ve been told is he can go out and throw and do some individual work this week,” Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel said. “So that’s exciting for everybody just because, you know, really we just miss his personality. He’s a guy that we rely on that, not to mention all of his play and all that stuff.”
He continued, “Now, when talking about this week and playing, I don’t see a scenario — I don’t see him being active. I do not plan to have him play at all.”
Tagovailo Will Not Play Sunday
Although he returned to practice, Tua Tagovailoa will not play Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings, even if he clears concussion protocol this week, according to Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel.
“He hasn’t done a thing on the football field for literally two weeks,” McDaniel said. “So, I don’t think that that would be fair to the player. That wouldn’t be fair to the team … I don’t feel comfortable putting him in that situation.”
The NFL Players Association Reviews Protocols
On September 25, Tagovailoa took a hard hit against the Buffalo Bills. When he got up, he was seen stumbling and not walking straight. The Dolphins quarterback was evaluated for a concussion during halftime, but returned to the game after professionals determined the stumble was caused by a previously reported back injury, and not a concussion.
Four days later, in the Thursday Night Football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Tagovailoa took another hard yet, this time resulting in his head hitting the turf and him being carted off the field on a stretcher as he could not move his arms or hands. He was briefly hospitalized.
The NFL Players Association then reviewed the league’s concussion protocol following the Dolphins quarterback’s quick return to the game on Sunday against the Bills. The NFLPA deemed the UNC made “several mistakes” during the concussion protocol process, multiple sources told ESPN. One of those mistakes included not examining Tagovailoa’s back during the initial concussion examination.
Ataxia was present in Tagovailoa’s case during the Sunday game against the Buffalo Bills, the league’s chief medical officer Dr. Allen Sills said during a press conference.
This past weekend, the NFL and NFLPA agreed on an amended concussion protocol. Now, any player who displays ataxia, which is defined as “abnormality of balance/stability, motor coordination or dysfunctional speech caused by a neurological issue,” must be removed from a game and is not allowed to return.