The 2022 season was a trying campaign for Tua Tagovailoa. While the Miami Dolphins quarterback thrived under first-year head coach Mike McDaniel, Tagovailoa also dealt with two scary concussions that threatened to derail his NFL career. Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Tua admitted that he thought about retiring after he suffered his second concussion in late December.
Tua Tagovailoa Pondered Retirement Following Repeated Concussions
Tagovailoa initially left a Week 3 game against the Buffalo Bills with what many believed was a concussion but was later announced as a back injury. He was then cleared to start a Thursday Night Football contest against the Cincinnati Bengals just four days later.
After taking a sack against the Bengals, Tagovailoa fell to the ground and exhibited a fencing response consistent with a concussion. He was stretchered off the field and transported to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center and missed the Dolphins’ next two games.
Tua stayed on the field for Miami’s next nine games. But after the Dolphins’ Week 16 loss to the Green Bay Packers, he reported concussion symptoms and was again placed in the NFL’s concussion protocol. Tagovailoa did not play in Miami’s final two regular-season games or their Wild Card loss to the Bills.
On Wednesday, Tagovailoa admitted his multiple head injuries forced him to think about hanging up his cleats.
“Yeah, I think I considered it for a time, having sat down with my family, having sat down with my wife, and having those kinds of conversations,” Tua said. “But, really, it would be hard for me to walk away from this game with how old I am, with my son. I always dreamed of playing as long as I could to where my son knew exactly what he was watching his dad do.
“It’s my health, it’s my body. I feel like this is what’s best for me and my family. I love the game of football, and if I didn’t, I would have quit a long time ago.”
Tagovailoa, who indicated he’s been working to strengthen his neck and head area this offseason, said discussions with neurologists made him comfortable continuing to play in the NFL.
“They told me CTE wasn’t going to be a problem,” Tagovailoa said. “It’s only when you’re constantly hitting your head against something. I think that tailors more towards linebackers, O-linemen, D-linemen, guys that are constantly going at it. So that also played into the factor of my decision-making and wanting to come back and play.”
Tagovailoa also said that he felt ready to return in the playoffs, even though the Dolphins did not allow him to play.
“I was going through my process with (head athletic trainer) Kyle (Johnston), just trying to do everything I could to get better. But, at any point, whenever the team — Mike or (general manager Chris) Grier — would have approached me and asked me if I were ready, there’s no question, no doubt in my mind that I would have stepped up to the plate and answered the call.”
The Dolphins have already exercised Tagovailoa’s fifth-year option, which will keep under club control through 2024. Given that Tua has completed three NFL seasons, Miami can negotiate a contract extension at any time.