Who Is at Fault for Tagovailoa’s Injury?

Dolphins Organization Under Fire After QB Carted Off With Severe Head Injury

By JT Scott, Staff Writer

On Thursday Night Football, Sept. 29, versus the Cincinnati Bengals, Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was carted off the field after suffering a potentially life-changing head injury. 

Tagovailoa suffered a concussion in the week prior versus the Buffalo Bills but was cleared by team doctors to play Thursday.

With 5:20 left in the second quarter, Tagovailoa was sacked from behind and bounced his head off the turf. He was immediately knocked unconscious, and his arms went stiff along with his fingers. It was a scary sight for anyone watching.

Tagovailoa was taken to the hospital and received treatment. Before the game ended, doctors reported that Tagovailoa could move all of his extremities and was conscious. 

The quarterback was able to be discharged to fly back to Miami with the team the following day.

Questions persist about why Tagovailoa was allowed back on the field after being diagnosed with a concussion the week prior. 

In that game versus Buffalo, Tagovailoa was captured on video falling to his hands and knees while attempting to run off the field after suffering a big hit from the Bills defenders. This should have been the first big sign to keep Tagovailoa off the field.

Additionally, according to reports, the Monday following the game against the Bills, Tagovailoa called Dolphins Head Coach Mike McDaniels at 11:30 p.m. for a short discussion. Fans and analysts assumed the call had to do with the player’s head injury, but there have been no official reports of the conversation’s details.

Tagovailoa was cleared to play against the Bengals on Wednesday night, the day before the game. This sparked a response from members of the medical community on social media. 

Chris Nowinski, a neuroscientist and cofounder and CEO of the Concussion Legacy Foundation, posted on Twitter: 

“If Tua takes the field tonight, it’s a massive step back for the #concussioncare in the NFL. If he has a second concussion that destroys his season or career, everyone involved will be sued and should lose their jobs, coaches included. We all saw it; even they must know this isn’t right.” 

Unfortunately, Nowinski’s prediction was correct. Tagovailoa has now suffered a second blow to the head, which can cause second impact syndrome (SIS), also known as repetitive head injury syndrome, a condition in which individuals experience a second head injury before complete recovery from an initial head injury. SIS can lead to brain bleeding or severe brain damage.

After the injury, Nowinski went on an angry Twitter rant calling out all of those involved: 

“This is a disaster. 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?” 

Following the injury, the Dolphins organization dismissed the doctor who initially cleared Tagovailoa to play. The Dolphins organization is now under investigation for how the injury was handled and who was involved in deciding to allow Tagovailoa to take the field Thursday night.

Tagovailoa is recovering and assured the media that he is in good spirits and hopes to return later this season.

This situation could have ended very differently. iPulse was curious about what local Dolphins fans and students thought about the situation. 

“I can’t explain to you how happy I am that he is OK,” said James Cinque, a Lynn junior and lifelong Dolphins fan. “That was really scary for me as a fan, not only because he is the future of our team, but I was worried he was seriously injured or even paralyzed. I think the team handled this situation really poorly.”

Other fans like Pierre Stroh think there should be serious punishments for those involved in making the decision.

“I don’t see how any coach, doctor, teammate, or anyone for that matter would be ok with letting him go out there,” said Stroh, a sophomore. “I mean, we watched the guy fall to the ground walking off the field; I think the entire medical staff and coaches should be investigated. I’m just glad it wasn’t worse.”

The NFL Players Association released a statement on this issue, stating that “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 Dolphins organization has yet to respond and most likely will not until after the investigation is finished. 

Above: Chris Nowinski, cofounder and CEO of the Concussion Legacy Foundation. Photo/Concussion Legacy Foundation.

Above: Tagovailoa after suffering his second head injury in five days during Thursday Night Football. Photo/NPR

Above: Tagovailoa carted off the field in a neck brace. Photo/Cincy Jungle

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