Tua Tagavailoa’s health is the primary concern in the NFL world on Friday after the Miami Dolphins quarterback suffered a scary head injury against the Cincinnati Bengals on Thursday night.
While the NFLPA initiates an investigation into the handling of Tua’s medical status, here’s the latest on where things stand for the 24-year-old signal-caller.
Tua Tagovailoa Injury Update
Tagovailoa’s head banged off the turf after he was thrown to the ground by Bengals defensive tackle Josh Tupou in the second quarter of Thursday’s game. His hands up went in a fencing position, a neurological response to head trauma.
Medical personnel stabilized Tua with a backboard and transported him to the University of Cincinnati hospital, a Level 1 trauma center. Fortunately, Tua was discharged last night and was able to fly back to Miami with his teammates on Friday morning.
Tagovailoa wore a neck brace on his return flight, but initial tests revealed no broken bones, as first reported by Josina Anderson of CBS Sports and confirmed by Pro Football Network. He will undergo an MRI on Friday to further evaluate his condition.
ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler adds that Tua is “now at his home in South Florida and was in ‘good spirits’ upon landing with the team.”
Tua’s concussion was all the more frightening because of what happened in Miami’s Week 3 game against the Buffalo Bills. On Sunday, Tua left that contest after taking a similar hit. Many assumed he suffered a concussion, but Tagovailoa and the Dolphins insist it was a back issue.
He appeared wobbly following that play, but he was allowed to return to finish the game after halftime. Miami says that they followed the proper concussion testing protocols, and head coach Mike McDaniel reiterated that stance last night in his postgame press conference.
“I have absolutely zero patience for [that] or ever would put a player in harm’s way,” McDaniel told reporters after the Dolphins’ 27-15 loss to the Bengals. “That’s not what I’m about at all.”
NFLPA Will Investigate Tua’s injury
The NFL confirmed on Wednesday that they were reviewing the response to Tua’s Sunday injury, and the NFLPA confirmed Thursday night that it would investigate the situation.
“Player health and safety is at the core of the union’s mission,” the union tweeted during the game. “Our concern tonight is for Tua and we hope for a full and speedy recovery. Our investigation into the potential protocol violation is ongoing.”
NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith texted Amazon Prime (which broadcasted Thursday’s game) and further indicated the union is looking into the matter.
“We insisted on these rules to avoid exactly this scenario,” Smith wrote. “We will pursue every legal option, including making referrals against the doctors to licensing agencies and the team that is obligated to keep our players safe.”
On Friday, NFL Chief Medical Officer Dr. Allen Sills told NFL Network that Tagovailoa was assessed for concussion symptoms daily following Sunday’s game, and an independent neurologist cleared him. Sills also indicated the full results of the league’s investigation into the handling of Tua’s Week 3 injury would be publicly released as soon as it concludes.
Mike McDaniel discusses Tua’s situation
McDaniel addressed Tua’s injury situation in a press conference on Friday, telling reporters the quarterback is currently dealing with headaches as he awaits his MRI results.
When asked whether the Dolphins should have done anything differently after Tagovailoa hit his head on the turf in Week 3, McDaniel reiterated that Tua was not diagnosed with a head injury.
“There was no medical indication from all resources,” McDaniel said. “If there would have been anything lingering with his head, I wouldn’t have been able to live with myself if I prematurely put someone out there in harm’s way.
“This is a relationship I have with this human being,” he added. “I take that seriously.”
McDaniel said Tua sat beside him on the plane back to Miami, and the two laughed together while watching the 2010 comedy MacGruber.
“He sat next to me on the flight,” McDaniel said. “We talked about the game. I was asking him questions about how he was feeling. He was just happy to be with his teammates. It was a scary, scary situation for all of us.”
McDaniel had no timetable for Tagovailoa’s return and noted the quarterback is still dealing with lingering back and ankle issues. He also confirmed Teddy Bridgewater would start against the New York Jets in Week 5 if Tua is unavailable.