Football is an extremely dangerous sport, despite the thrills that it entails, we have seen firsthand how the sport can affect athletes during their careers or after their retirement. The latest athlete to highlight the dangers of the sport is Tua Tagovailoa, the quarterback for the Miami Dolphins suffered a big hit last week in the game against the Buffalo Bills and while many may argue that he was not fit to return to the game, he did get back and close the game out. However, what happened this week was nothing short of a disaster and the fact that it could have been averted is what is concerning.
Tua Tagovailoa and the Miami Dolphins played the Cincinnati Bengals this week, the quarterback endured yet another big hit when he was slammed onto the ground. This may be the nature of the game but given that Tua has barely had time to recover from the damage done last week, it was premature and just ridiculous on part of the Dolphins medical staff to clear him for the game against the Bengals. Dr. Chris Nowinski, a reputed neuroscientist echoes this sentiment.
“Fire the medical staff and coaches”: Dr. Nowinski is outraged that Tua Tagovailoa was cleared for the game despite having a reported concussion.
Dr. Chris Nowinski, a renowned neuroscientist specializes in concussions and CTE. The latter of which has claimed and ruined the lives of many NFL athletes, present and former. He was extremely open about his opinions and did not hold back. Tua Tagovailoa was slammed to the ground hard in the second quarter of the game against the Bengals, his spine hit the ground hard, you would have though it was a WWE matchup.
The quarterback lay on the floor scaring his teammates and the coaching staff, he appeared to point some fingers and indicate something but it was evident that he was in no condition to play further. He had to be carted off the field and was taken to the nearest hospital. As per the reports of the Dolphins, he was discharged eventually and is scheduled to fly back with the team.
In light of these events, a question that arose was that if the quarterback was really even fit enough to play in the game? The NFL and NFLPA has over the years tightened the regulations surrounding CTE and concussion protocols. The current protocols dictate that players who show signs any instability after a hard hit ought to be evaluated by the team doctor and an independent neurologist that the team will hire. The neurosurgeon in question has to be an individual from outside and not from within the team.
Dr. Nowinski criticized the Miami Dolphins franchise for their negligence and ridiculous decision to play Tua following last week’s injury. Initially, Tua was suspected of having suffered an injury to the head but the quarterback walked it off and was clearly stumbling but we have to give him credit and props for trying to shake it off. He was diagnosed with a hyperextended back. He did not practice the whole week and was still made to start in this game.
Tua is a warrior, no doubt but at times, the team needs to get in the way and ensure players are benched for the betterment of their health as some athletes have that competitive fire within them. Dr. Nowinski dubbed this incident as a “disaster” and then referred to a tweet in which he had warned about the potential damage that could take place if Tagovailoa were to get hurt again.
In his tweet, he called out the Dolphins organization. “Pray for Tua. Fire the medical staff and coaches. I predicted this and I hate that I am right. Two concussions in 5 days can KILL someone. This can end careers. How are we so stupid in 2022.“ The neuro expert had stated. He made sense, this is not 1990, we live in an era where we know very well what are the repercussions of injuries sustained as a result of football, what the hell were the Dolphins thinking?
His tweet goes on to express disappointment with the Dolphins organization as he states “I take no pleasure in being right. Pray for Tua. We saw this coming. Get angry. Get involved with @ConcussionLF to make sure the @NFL can’t do this again.” It is concerning how Miami decided to look over the health concerns and still play Tua in the game. Come on man, it is 2022, the quarterback may be naive but you as an organization are not.
His displeasure was evident when he stated that “You guys should go to jail for letting him play 5 days after an obvious concussion you covered up. If he dies from second-impact syndrome. I’m pushing for murder charges.” Albeit serious charges, the team deserves it, we get it, wins matter, but the life of a person is at stake here.
Coach Mike McDaniel who should have stood up and told his quarterback to sit out defended the actions of the team(quelle surprise), “We would have reported a head injury, that’s why the NFL has these protocols, and there’s not like every single NFL game that is played, there’s an independent specialist that specializes in specialty brain matter. For me, as long as I’m coaching here, I’m not gonna fudge that whole situation. If there’s any sort of inclination that someone has a concussion, they go into concussion protocol, and it’s very strict. People don’t vary or stray. We don’t mess wth that. Never have, and as long as I’m the head coach, that will never be an issue you guys have to worry about.”
But Mike, your quarterback just went through that and we saw you do virtually nothing about it. The NFLPA also shared its concerns via a tweet. “Player health and safety is at the core of the union’s mission . Our concern tonight is for Tua and we hope for a full and speedy recovery. Our investigation into the potential protocol violation is ongoing.”
The NFLPA is likely to take days or weeks to arrive at a solid report but Mike McDaniel and the Dolphins were aware of the condition Tua was in. Tagovailoa is a competitor at heart and we have to take into account his financial interests, he wants to set his family up for life, he wants to be stable financially and create wealth that lasts. As an athlete in the NFL, your career is brief so you have to make the most out of it but at what cost?
If the staff really did care, they would have sat him out and figured a way out for him to not play. Despite the updated protocols, the Miami Dolphins went ahead with it. When a reputed neurosurgeon who seldom interferes in such matters speaks out, it does become a subject of concern. The best we can hope is that Tua gets better and comes back stronger than ever. However, the NFL has to fine or discipline someone in Miami because clearly the team could have done a lot more.