By: Chloe Eghobamien

What happened to Tua Tagovailoa?

Tua Tagovailoa, the Quarterback of the Miami Dolphins, suffered a concussion on September 25, 2022, in a game against the Buffalo Bills. Shortly after, he was examined by the team doctors and was cleared to go back into the game. However, audiences noticed that he didn’t seem okay, as he was stumbling so much that his teammates had to hold him up. Less than a week later, Tagovailoa was allowed to play again in a game against the Cincinnati Bengals. However, he was sacked by a player on the Bengals and suffered another head injury, but this time the injury was so severe that he couldn’t move off the ground. He displayed the fencing response while on the ground. This response was very scary because it indicates severe brain trauma. He was taken off the field on a stretcher and driven to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center.

What does this mean for the concussion protocols in the NFL?

When he got his concussion, the doctors that questioned him followed the protocols, and he was allowed back in the game. However, he was displaying signs of abnormal balance. The problem was that there was no rule stating that these signs were enough to take him out of the game and get him further medical care. 

After Tagovailoa’s concussion, the NFL and the NFL Players Association reviewed the protocols and decided to change them. The change that they made was adding “ataxia” to the list of symptoms that block a player from going into the game. Ataxia is defined as stumbling, seeming disoriented, or verbal issues that are caused by a neurological issue. The NFL’s Chief Medical Officer, Allen Sills, stated that if this protocol had existed when Tagovailoa first got hurt on September 25, he would have not only been prohibited from playing in that game, but also the game against the Bengals. 

This new protocol is very important because it can protect many players in the NFL from serious head injuries that can sometimes be career ending. There is a stigma in the NFL – and in many other major leagues – that “playing through the pain” is something that players should do in order to not let their team down. However, sometimes losing one game because of sitting out for an injury is better than getting seriously injured later and never being able to play again. 

What is happening now?

A couple days ago, Tagovailoa released his first statement since his injuries. He stated that he didn’t really remember what happened after getting hit but he does remember being taken to the hospital. This further shows how serious his injury was. 

In better news, Tagovailoa was cleared from his concussion on Saturday October 8th, and should be back to playing in time for the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday October 23.

The situation of Tua Tagovailoa was not the first instance in which a player got seriously hurt like this. His injury goes to show that things like this can be prevented if athletes are honest with themselves and their coaches about their injuries, and that the major leagues put a lot of pressure on their athletes to not do this.