Thursday night, Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was carried off the field on a stretcher after he seemed to suffer his second head injury in less than a week after being thrown to the ground and striking his head on the grass.
The injury, which occurred during a nationally broadcast prime-time game, occurred days after the NFL players’ union launched an inquiry into the Dolphins’ treatment of another head hit Tagovailoa took in his previous game. Tagovailoa’s current condition is anticipated to reignite questions about the league’s concussion regulations and highlight worries that even routine subconcussive strikes to the head may cause long-term harm to football players.
Midway in the second quarter of Thursday night’s game between the Miami Dolphins and Cincinnati Bengals, Tagovailoa dropped back to throw around the midfield area. Josh Tupou, a defensive lineman for the Bengals, grabbed Tagovailoa, turned him around, and then hurled him to the ground. The elbow of Tagovailoa struck the ground first, followed by the rear of his helmet.
Tagovailoa instantly lifted his hands with his fingers spread apart, an indication of brain damage known as a “fence reaction.” Trainers for the Dolphins rushed onto the field and, after a few minutes, placed Tagovailoa on a stretcher and rolled him off the field while his anxious teammates kneeled alongside.
A few minutes after the incident, the television announcers of the game reported that Tagovailoa had incurred head and neck injuries, was conscious, and had been sent to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center. The Bengals won by a score of 27-15.
The club said after the game that Tagovailoa had been placed in the league’s concussion protocol, which instructs physicians on when a player may return to practise and games safely.
The Dolphins tweeted that Tagovailoa had movement in all of his limbs, and subsequently reported that he was anticipated to be discharged from the hospital in time for the team’s return to Florida.
Coach Mike McDaniel of the Dolphins told a sideline reporter that the injury was “frightening.”
“All of his teammates, including myself, are quite worried. Therefore, the best news we can provide is that he did not suffer from anything more severe than a concussion. He will be returning with us on this aircraft.”
Chris Nowinski, the chief executive officer of the Concussion Legacy Foundation, who has often criticised the National Football League’s management of concussions, was harsh in his judgement of the player’s health.
Soon after Tagovailoa was wheeled off the field, he posted on Twitter, “This is a tragedy.” “Faith for Tua. Fire the medical and coaching staffs. I despise being correct about my prediction.”
Nowinski, who had cautioned about the hazards to Tagovailoa if he played so soon after striking his head severely in the previous game, replied to a Dolphins tweet regarding the quarterback’s injury by commenting, “you guys should go to prison for allowing him play”
The Dolphins’ decision to allow Tagovailoa to re-enter Sunday’s game against the Buffalo Bills after a hit in which he appeared to slam his head on the turf and then struggled to stay on his feet initially raised questions about the team’s handling of the league’s concussion protocol. Tagovailoa’s new injury raised additional concerns.
Tagovailoa was knocked to the ground and smacked the back of his head on the grass in the second quarter of the game in Miami Gardens, Florida. As he attempted to return to the huddle, he instantly gripped the sides of his helmet, stumbled to his feet, and, after a few steps, temporarily fell to his knees.
Tagovailoa’s injury follows that of Bills cornerback Dane Jackson, who was taken off the field in a Monday night game on September 19 after colliding with teammate Tremaine Edmunds. Jackson’s head and neck snapped back after receiving the blow. After being cleared by a CT scan, he was discharged from the Erie County Medical Center in Buffalo the next day.