MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Tua Tagovailoa will return to the Miami Dolphins‘ lineup on Sunday for the first time since suffering a frightening concussion on national TV that reignited a fierce debate about NFL head injuries.
Everyone has an opinion, with some even arguing that Tagovailoa should retire from football due to the long-term risks that come from suffering multiple concussions.
Tua Tagovailoa Discusses Alarming Concussion
Tua, not surprisingly, is not retiring at age 24. He’s seen multiple specialists who have all told him that his scans showed that his Sept. 29 concussion left him with no long-term impact on the brain.
Tagovailoa on Wednesday spoke to reporters for the first time since getting hit and talked about what he was told by doctors during his many appointments over the last three weeks.
“There’s not necessarily as much long-term risk,” Tagovailoa said. “Let’s say guys get about six concussions. Well, those guys that only have six concussions that are playing the position that I’m playing, where we don’t hit as much, are less susceptible to getting CTE later on in their years than someone who’s playing a position where they’re constantly taking hits or blows to the head, which would be O-line, D-line, linebackers.
“And that’s kind of some of the information that I’ve been given from a lot of these doctors that are the best of the best in their field.”
Research supports what Tua is saying. The big, knockout blows are frightening — particularly when they cause the fencing posture that Tagovailoa involuntarily assumed on the field in Cincinnati. But they might not be the most dangerous in the long-term.
Experts believe repeated head impact — causing subconcussive head injuries — is the biggest cause of CTE. That would suggest offensive and defensive linemen — who hit and get hit on every play — are the most at risk.
That, of course, doesn’t mean significant concussions aren’t serious. Of course, they are — particularly if multiple happen in a short period of time. That’s why the league has a protocol — and why Tua sat out the last two games.
Tua acknowledged Wednesday that he was knocked unconscious when the back of his head slammed into the ground. While he remembers everything from that night up to that point, he did experience memory loss after it happened.
“After I got tackled, I don’t remember much from there,” Tua said. “Getting carted off, I don’t remember that. But I do remember things that were going on when I was in the ambulance and then at the hospital.”
Injury History for Miami Dolphins’ Tagovailoa
It was the second time in four years he’s been hospitalized from an injury suffered on the football field. Tagovailoa broke and dislocated his left hip in his final game at Alabama. When asked if those trips to the hospital weigh on him, Tua replied:
“No. I would say those kind of things weigh more on my parents than they do for me, just with me being their son. I just want to go out there and do good for our team, do right for this organization, do right for the guys inside the building that I see everyday, that work really hard. That’s all. I enjoy being here. I enjoy all the guys in the building. When I’m not able to do something about it and help our team and our organization, that just really sucks.”
Tua acknowledged the surest way to remain on the field is to modify his behavior. He agreed with Mike McDaniel’s comments on Monday when his coach said his QB needs to give up on plays instead of hanging onto the ball as long as he does.
“I’ve always been a person to try to make something happen,” Tua said. “That’s always been my mindset, if you will. Throwing the ball away hasn’t been something I’ve done in the past really well, because I’m trying to make plays.
“Learning from that, learning if it’s not there, it’s OK to throw it away. The longevity of me being able to be the quarterback of this team and not try to make something out of nothing. Plays will come to us. That’s kind of what the mantra for our offense is.”