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Thursday, June 13, 2024

Tua Tagovailoa Not in Concussion Protocol as Probe Launched

  • Tagovailoa was cleared to re-enter Sunday's game and is not currently in the NFL's concussion protocol.
  • The NFL and NFLPA are conducting an investigation into whether protocols were followed.
Tua Tagovailoa
Rich Storry/USA TODAY Sports

Amateur neurologists on Twitter were enraged when Tua Tagovailoa re-entered Sunday’s game against the Buffalo Bills, convinced the Miami Dolphins quarterback suffered a concussion on a late hit before halftime.

Tagovailoa was cleared to return to the game after an examination by an unaffiliated neurotrauma consultant that found he wasn’t suffering signs typically associated with a concussion, a process that’s part of NFL’s game-day concussion management protocol

Tagovailoa’s back — and possibly his ankle — were injured, but Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel told reporters Monday that Tagovailoa wasn’t in the league’s concussion protocol. 

“I kind of got my legs caught under someone and they were trying to push back and it kind of felt like I hyperextended my back or something,” Tagovailoa said after the game per The Associated Press. “Then on the next play, I kind of hit my back, it kind of hurt, and I got up and that’s why I stumbled — my back kind of locked up on me.”

The NFL Players Association and the NFL are conducting a joint review on whether medical professionals followed league protocols in clearing Tagovailoa, a league source told Front Office Sports on Monday. 

McDaniel said Monday that the team would cooperate with the probe, and added that Tagovailoa wouldn’t have been allowed back into the game if there were “any sort of red flags.”

The league’s protocols have had missteps in player care, but the process has improved since it was first implemented in 2009. 

One of the last investigations into a player getting cleared when replays showed there was cause for concern was then-Carolina Panther quarterback fell to his knees during a playoff game in January 2018. 

There was similar outrage on social media as with Tagovailoa, but the investigation confirmed that Newton — as was originally diagnosed — suffered an eye injury and was told to go to the turf by then-coach Ron Rivera. 

“We urge restraint among those who attempt to make medical diagnoses based upon the broadcast video alone,” the NFL and NFLPA said in a joint statement at the time. “Evaluation for a concussion requires not only an analysis of the broadcast video but an examination performed by a medical team familiar with the player and the relevant medical history.”

That investigation took about three weeks to complete, and a source told FOS the Tagovailoa investigation would likely be concluded in the same timeframe.

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