Investigation regarding Tua Tagovailoa’s return to play could take 1-2 weeks

USA Today Sports

The NFL Players Association has exercised its prerogative to request an investigation as to the events that resulted in Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa re-entering Sunday’s game against the Bills, despite displaying gross motor instability after his helmet struck the ground.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the investigation — jointly conducted by the league and the NFLPA — will entail a review of the relevant film, along with conversations with Tagovailoa, the team physician, the Unaffiliated Neurotrauma Consultant, and any other relevant persons. The investigation is expected to require one to two weeks to complete.

The question then becomes whether the league and union will agree that the concussion protocol was, or wasn’t, properly followed. For occasions of gross motor instability, the player can be cleared to play only if the team physician and the UNC conclude that the instability did not have a neurological cause.

How did that happen in this case? Did they simply take Tua at his word that his wobbliness came from an unreported back injury that he suffered earlier in the game? Did they do anything else to show that the instability was not the result of a head injury?

Obviously, he was cleared to return. But whether he showed signs of impairment when examined in the locker room is a different question from whether his gross motor instability did, or didn’t, have a neurological cause.

If an impasse arises as to whether the concussion protocol was followed, the union can file a grievance. The question would be resolved via arbitration. However, the NFL and NFLPA have always reached an agreement regarding whether, in any given case, the concussion protocol was or wasn’t followed. In the past fines have been imposed on the team. One or more UNCs have been relieved of their duties. Changes to the protocol have been made to address and to fill potential loopholes.

There’s a potential loophole when it comes to the procedure for evaluating players with gross motor instability. If they’re merely accepting the player’s version of why and how he was wobbly, that shouldn’t be good enough. Under the vague but reliable standard of know it when you see it, we all knew that Tua was knocked wobbly from a head injury, because we saw it.

Whatever the outcome, the protocol needs to be applied in a way that protects players who are displaying such impairment, especially since players are typically wired to do whatever they have to do and say whatever they have to say to keep playing.

Only a handful of stars, with true and unambiguous job security, have the freedom to be candid on this topic. For all others, there are very real potential consequences to not playing, whatever the reason. Thus, a very real temptation exists to ignore potential head injuries in order to keep going. The protocol must take that dynamic into account, in order to prevent the worst possible outcome — a player who has suffered one head injury sustaining a second one shortly thereafter.

40 responses to “Investigation regarding Tua Tagovailoa’s return to play could take 1-2 weeks

  1. No way he should have been allowed back in the game – that poor kid suffered a concussion – 100% without a doubt – that’s pretty sad

  2. You can bet your entire booty that the NFL will protect the team doctor at all costs as in they/he did nothing wrong.
    To me if that isnt a brain injury thing I dont know what is. He never grabbed his back and said oh, that hurts. He should be forced to no play for those two weeks.

  3. Are we saying the super bowl favored Bills were beat by a QB that was knocked out? Or are we still blaming the loss on all of the injured Bills players? So, does Tua still suck or not? Can’t keep track of the narrative.

  4. An independent doctor was in the locker room during the evaluation, if Tua did in fact have a concussion the doctor wouldn’t have let him come back in. The NFLPA along with the NFL need to watch Tua’s two bombs to Waddle in the second half and that should put this to rest.

  5. There is a crap storm coming to the Miami training staff – category 5! They are deserving of what’s coming, that was brutal.

  6. The Dolphins just got hit over tampering, if it is determined they broke league rules here that should increase the penalties.

  7. 1-2 weeks? Okay, so what happens if they find out protocol was not followed, he’s not currently in concussion protocol then, and he’s turning around and playing Thursday night?

  8. The Dolphins would have lost the game if Tua was knocked out. Although that’s been Buffalo’s strategy in the past.

  9. I was watching this when it happened. Walking off the field, he needed to be directed which way to walk and looked like needed help walking straight.
    I was stunned to see him return. Someone has some ‘splaining to do.

  10. The NFL needs to implement of protocol that takes the decision away from the player and team entirely. The players and the teams obviously will not like that. But, there simply is no other way to manage these risks universally. The league should have the responsibility to “know it when you see it” as they are already on the hook for the concussion settlements. And, as the article makes clear, teams and players are biased to put players back on the field for a variety of reasons. Perhaps a concussion protocol that has the NFL paying the affected players game checks for the duration of any time missed? Something to help non-stars avoid getting cut because the league pulled them from games for medical-safety reasons.

  11. If he passed the tests and felt good enough to play then what’s the issue? Anybody ever played football and had there bell rung? It doesn’t automatically equate to a concussion. Did he look woosie? Sure. Does that mean he was concussed? Nope. I find it hilarious everyone wants penalties for the Dolphins and it’s not because Tua was possibly hurt. It’s because the Dolphins are winning and beating teams everyone says they shouldn’t. If a UNC cleared him then it’s case closed.

  12. “if Tua did in fact have a concussion the doctor wouldn’t have let him come back in. The NFLPA along with the NFL need to watch Tua’s two bombs to Waddle in the second half and that should put this to rest.” ____________________________________________________________________________________________________ If this was any other team would you honestly say that a player bounces his head off the ground, then is shaking his head trying to clear it and collapsing to the ground not in pain, but because he had no balance anymore, isn’t concussed? It was the most obvious concussion in league history. Tua came back in because it was the Dolphins biggest game in years. As to him throwing deep balls after, concussions usually don’t affect play much, that’s why players used to always just play through them. I bounced my head the exact same way Tua did during basketball, got pulled to my feet by a teammate, while everyone stared at me going “Was that sound your head?!?” I didn’t feel good but I made both free throws.

  13. You’re entirely missing the point here. The competence/judgement of the doctor is part of the issue. And the fact that Tua played well afterwards doesn’t mean he wasn’t concussed. You keep players out post-concussion to protect them, because a second head injury in a short time can cause much more harm

  14. Funny, it took me 1-2 seconds to know he had a concussion. Dolphins risked his health because the Bills had 7 backups in on D.

  15. “Also, suspend Matt Milano for a game.”

    Lol Matt Milano shouldn’t have even been flagged, stop with this nonsense.

  16. So it will take 1-2 weeks for them to get all of their ducks in a row, and make sure they can defend the actions, even manufacturing evidence, in order to conclude nothing inappropriate happened.

  17. I watched the video once because that’s all I needed to see. Given the fact that his head hit the turf hard, and then he fell down. It’s a virtual certainty. He had a concussion. Now, I will say as someone with major back issues there are times, where I have lost strength in my legs and even fallen over. But the combination of events would at least warrant not sending him back in as a precaution.

  18. This investigation goes nowhere without Tagovailoa’s cooperation which the NFL will not get. Shut it down now and stop wasting everyone’s time.

  19. lowlyfinfan88 says:
    September 26, 2022 at 11:53 am
    If he passed the tests and felt good enough to play then what’s the issue? Anybody ever played football and had there bell rung? It doesn’t automatically equate to a concussion.

    It absolutely does equate to a concussion. Any blow to the head causes a brain bruise, i.e., a concussion. Getting your “bell ring” means that you suffered a concussion, that’s fairly elementary medical science.

  20. lowlyfinfan88 says:
    September 26, 2022 at 11:53 am
    Did he look woosie? Sure. Does that mean he was concussed? Nope.

    Of course he was concussed. I would love to hear your diagnosis of what was wrong with him.

  21. The guy looked as if he didn’t know his own name or where he was, and we’re all supposed to believe that his back locked up? Come on…I think that we all know what a concussion looks like. Whoever allowed Tua back into the game deserves to be punished.

  22. He cleared the doctors and Tua has been known to not play with a bad hangnail so if he played there wasn’t anything wrong with him

  23. dl72fan says:
    September 26, 2022 at 1:02 pm
    If he wanted to play he should be allowed to play. Quit babying people.

    Someone who has just suffered a brain injury is in no condition to make decisions for himself. It has nothing to with babying anyone.

  24. He got pushed on the shoulder and purposefully left his arms by his side to draw a flag instead of protecting himself, and his head bounced off the turf. Unless the push to the shoulder concussed him this is the only reality.

  25. If Tua wanted to come back in, does it matter? I’m fairly certain Allen got a concussion in the 2019 Houston playoff game. Allen was down, got up, and kept playing. Wasn’t checked by doctors. Unfortunately, not unusual for QBs to play through injuries other positions don’t.

  26. Most of y’all have never played football before and it shows to just determine that was a concussion.

  27. When you play the Patriots twice a year, you become well versed as to how to manipulate the system….some would call it cheating.

  28. Wow, a lot holiday inn express doctors on here diagnosing Tua from their lazy boys. What does independent doctor mean? I am sure it’s not the same as team doctor.

  29. people call tua injury prone and worse for not playing with small injuries. Now they say he shouldn’t have played. People are saying tua sucks and are glad he’s playing. Now they say he shouldn’t have played. Very confusing as to what the public wants.

  30. There are a lot of medical doctors posting on this site. Don’t you guys have work to do? “Oh he was definitely concussed”, “that’s a concussion if I’ve ever seen one”. If this wasn’t against the Bills no one would bat an eye. If a UNC cleared him then the Dolphins are in the clear, bottom line. No matter what this investigation finds it won’t take away the fact the Dolphins beat the Bills with only having the ball for 20 mins. The thing that should be talked about more is how Miami scored 21 with 20 mins of possession where the Bills could only muster 17 in 40 mins. I realize there’s injuries on both sides but weren’t they supposedly to steamroll the Fins. Oh yeah the games still have to be played regardless of what the media and fans say. I almost forgot about that 😁

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