As the NFL and NFL Players Association investigate the circumstances resulting in Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa‘s return to play on Sunday against the Bills, the NFL’s Chief Medical Officer has made an important commitment.
In an interview with NFL Media’s Judy Battista, Dr. Allen Sills promised full transparency with the outcome of the investigation, which the NFLPA requested.
“As soon as we finish that review, we’ll release the results of that to everyone,” Dr. Sills said. “We want to be as transparent and open about this as possible. We certainly want to learn, to improve, to get better. And we want to be the best in the world at diagnosing and managing these injuries. And so if we find that we fell short, or if we find that there are things that we need to change, we will certainly be up front about doing that. We’ve done that before, and we will certainly do that again, if that’s what’s indicated.”
Sills said that there will be “very serious consequences” if the concussion protocol was not followed. It’s also possible, as we’ve previously explained, that the protocol was followed but that it needs to be changed to, in this case, prevent players from returning to play after they exhibit gross motor instability.
The problem in this case is that the team physician and the Unaffiliated Neurotrauma Consultant found that Tua’s gross motor instability did not have a neurological cause. Few seem to believe that based, on the video. Sills never focused on that critical issue in the nearly nine-minute interview.
We’ve asked the league this specific question three times since Tua returned to play on Sunday: How did the team physician and the UNC conclude that Tua’s “gross motor instability” was not neurologically caused? The first two times we asked that question, there was no response. Today, NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy declined to answer “as it part of the review which is ongoing.”
That’s fine, but if there’s going to be any transparency as to the outcome of the review, that’s the most important question. And if it’s determined that the team physician and the Unaffiliated Neurotrauma Consultant properly (somehow) ruled out a neurological cause of the wobbliness that all witnessed, the next question is whether that loophole will be closed, making any gross motor instability an automatic “no go.”