NFLPA believes Tua Tagovailoa shouldn’t have returned last week, even if it was a back injury

Buffalo Bills v Miami Dolphins
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On the surface, the situation that emerged last Sunday involving Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa can seem complicated. After seeing Tua stumble and nearly fall, was it a head injury or a back injury?

The NFL Players Association believes it’s far more simple than that. Per a source with knowledge of the union’s thinking, even if it was a back injury, Tua shouldn’t have returned to action.

Spinal cord injuries can be serious. Very serious. If Tua did indeed suffer a back injury that produced gross motor instability, why did the doctors allow him to return?

When the NFLPA and the NFL interview Tua this week as part of the ongoing investigation, the union plans, we’re told, to ask Tua a very straightforward and direct question. If you told the doctors you injured your back, what they do to examine your back?

It’s possible that there was no examination. It’s possible that the examination may have included one or more flaws.

Again, the goal is to steer the process away from a checklist for letting players continue to play and more toward an effort to evaluate players as patients, even if it means telling them they can’t play.

Doctor’s tell us all the time not to do certain things, for our own good. In most situations, we’re on our own when it comes to whether we will, or won’t, comply. When it comes to football, there’s much easier way to ensure that the player complies with medical advice. The team and/or the league simply tell him that he must.

37 responses to “NFLPA believes Tua Tagovailoa shouldn’t have returned last week, even if it was a back injury

  1. Where was the NFLPA before the game or all week? Pretty weak to talk like this after the fact. Either you went along with the protocol or you didn’t. All this finger pointing is just silly.

  2. Nobody cared about that Sunday afternoon…. until that following Thursday evening.

  3. Almost like the author of this column is the author of a book that talks about how NFL disregards player safety.

    In my professional opinion Tua probably suffered a slight “concussion” which is a very vague term. Iim not sure he should have came back in that game, but if he passed all tests and was symptom free which is what they told us, he has every right to play the game if he wants to. The NFLPA seems to play politics and are taking advantage of a situation to flex. That is a stretch that Tua shouldn’t play because of a back injury. I understand if they say the dolphins didn’t do the correct tests to acknowledge no way of clearing him. But to say he shouldn’t no matter what come on!

  4. So, what’s the NFLPA’s solution? To not allow any player that suffers a back injury to return because of a potential spinal cord injury? Just send every player who gets injured to the nearest hospital for a full exam? Where do you draw the line? Don’t have doctors on the sideline if you don’t trust their process and/or evaluation.

  5. This is by far the best reasoning we have heard for keeping Tua out last Sunday. I would still like to know what role the UMC (Unidentified Medical Co-conspiratotor) played in the decision process.

  6. I saw a picture from a different angle where it was obvious Tua was in the “fencing” position against Buffalo. Watching live I thought he might be shading his eyes, but this view shows that’s not what happened. Never should have went back in. The owner is suspended and now this mess? Really bad lol for them.

  7. Should Tee Higgins have played? He had three concussions already before Thursday night.

  8. I woke up early this morning and stubbed my toe. Hard. I immediately had gross motor instability. Not trying to be a smart alec. The devil is in the details and how do you determine the cause and define exactly what gross motor instability is?

  9. Really? Well how about if a player leaves the field due to injury then they can’t return to the game no matter what?

  10. Then why didn’t they step up, and demand that Tua be held out, and why didn’t Tua own up to his head injury? It’s Tua’s fault Plain and simple

  11. Thursday night games proves where everyone is on players safety, owners, NFLPA, fans and players. Rest allows injuries and concussions to heal. It’s just a fact, yet they have Thursday games every week. Money > Safety

  12. Every one can complain all they want but if the players don’t value their bodies or brain health they’re at fault for lying to the trainers

  13. A player like Tua (whose 1st two years were underwhelming) that is having a breakout year doesn’t want to come out. Ever. He is a young man. He probably feels semi-invincible. He better learn that he isn’t. Having said that…the responsibility for a player’s safety and health (in a game situation) also falls to the team, the team doctors, and even the head coach. Anything less is unacceptable. Miami messed up. It’s going to be better for the organization to own up to it than to try to make excuses.

  14. I dislike Roger Goodell. A lot. However –

    I have heard so much talk this past week about the NFL wanting, at all cost, the best players on the field. Can anyone prove this is actually true? Because all I have heard for ages is that the players themselves make less of their injury on the spot than they should so they can stay in the game.

    Leaving Tua in the game Thursday was a medical decision. I don’t believe, nor does anyone believe, that the doctors checked with the NFL before giving the go ahead to Tua to stay in the game.

    Something within the system isn’t really working, and it seems to me the lapse in judgment is between the athlete, the coach and the doctors.

    Why is everyone blaming the NFL? Aren’t they taking a lot of heat as it is for trying to make the game safer? Athletes and fans don’t like all these safer rules.

    The NFL needs to really go after the athletes, coaches and Dr’s more forcibly to ensure all athletes, not just QBs, are protected.

  15. Sorry. Tee Higgins had a concussion in week 1, passed the protocol and came back for week 2. In week 3, he got laid out and knocked out. This would be a second concussion in the new protocol. Like Tua, he passed and went back in the game. He also played Thursday night, having had two concussions on the season.

  16. How can the NFL schedule miami to play 3 games in the space of 11 days then also complain about players safety….hypocrisy..

  17. The doctor said he’s ok.the brain doctor said he’s ok, Tua said he’s ok. Switch to flag football. Problem solved.

  18. NFLPA is reactive, but never proactive. If they really believed in what they are telling us now, there would have already been rules and regulations in place.
    Great example of CYA.

  19. The players vote for their own union leadership. The league has nothing to do with that. If there was a health issue with Tua, why did they allow him to play? It’s funny how the union always wants to blame the league whenever they fail at their responsibilities of looking out for the players. If I were Tua, I’d want a refund on my union dues.

  20. You know, I’m not a doctor. But I have never seen someone hurt their back and yet never at least put their hand on their hip or back once. I didn’t see it. I saw him shake his head, twice. You don’t do that if you hurt your back. I saw him stumble and ultimately fall and then look woozy when he got up. That does not come from a back injury either. So I wish they would stop saying it was a back injury. Tua saying it is understandable because he is trying to stay in the game. The team and coach saying it is borderline criminal and hearing any analyst or anyone else for that matter saying is just plain stupid.

  21. Funny.the NFLPA had Monday through Thursday to demand Tua not be allowed to play Thursday. They say they know so much about what happened on the Sunday before,yet they didn’t do that. Now they want to act like they’ve got the players best interest at heart.
    And they want to revise their actions from Monday through Thursday after the fact
    Yet it was the NFLPA that negotiated the terms on players availability.

  22. Let’s just let the investigation run its course. It is interesting that we’ve never heard a peep out of Tua about it. I imagine union reps got to him early to make sure he doesn’t say that he felt fine. He could do a lot to settle the issue one way or the other. In due time.

  23. If Miami was simply saying that they misread the symptoms on Sunday this would not have looked as bad. But they actually produced a diagnosis of a back injury and told the world that they had concluded it was that and not a concussion. But when a back injury is even simply suspected they immobilize it as a precaution until it can be looked at more closely. So we are to understand that the doctors thought there was a back injury, but he was then walked to the locker room. Its that story they attempted to float that makes this look less like an error and more just an uncaring attitude toward player health in the face of wanting game results.

  24. I would be interested in seeing the NFL look into whether Ross had any communication with the team, especially the team doctor that made the decision he was ok to return, that day. He is suspended for doing underhanded things to try and improve his team’s chances. This would be basically along the same lines he has shown hes willing to follow. Did this doctor feel his job was to get the players back into the game rather than look out for their health?

  25. The NFLPA has finally come out of the closet on head issues because of all the couch-potato doctors who diagnosed Tua from the luxury of their own sofa. Where has the NFLPA been for the last few years? Where? Not like this is the first situation that has arisen. Where have they been?

  26. You can’t really say Tua’s injury against Buffalo went unnoticed until he hit his head on Thursday Night Football because the NFLPA was already investigating Tua’s premature clearance to go back into the Bills game. That investigation was underway before Thursday Nightf Football kicked off. It just didn’t get a lot of headlines until he played 4 days later and hit his head again.

  27. “Doctor’s tell us all the time not to do certain things, for our own good. In most situations, we’re on our own when it comes to whether we will, or won’t, comply.” Bingo! Removing personal responsibility from our society may be the most dangerous experiment in history. No one made Tua play.

  28. Why didn’t the NFLPA step in and stop him from playing against the Bengals, then? No, they stayed quiet and what happened? He got whacked again and this time it appeared that he had a seizure. That was one scary sight. Tua may never be right again. It’s a little late for the NFLPA to state the obvious now. The damage is done. Hindsight is 2020.

  29. golions1 says:
    October 2, 2022 at 9:45 pm
    I woke up early this morning and stubbed my toe. Hard. I immediately had gross motor instability.
    Did you also bang your head on the ground and then grab it?

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