OPINION | How the Miami Dolphins failed Tua Tagovailoa


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After suffering a huge hit during a Thursday night match-up against the Cincinnati Bengals,  Dolphins’ quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was able to come out of concussion protocol. 

Tagovailoa shared yesterday that he was unconscious for the entire seven minutes he spent on the field, and he doesn’t remember anything. 

His first concussion happened late in the second quarter during a week three match-up vs. the Buffalo Bills back in late September. 

During the play, Tagovailoa was pushed down by Bills’ linebacker Matt Milano. Once he tried to stand up, he kept stumbling and wobbling before falling back down again. 

When the video reached social media, many people (myself included) noticed how bad the hit was. Most thought he was done for the rest of the game and would be sidelined during the Dolphins’ Thursday night game against the Bengals. 

During the halftime evaluation, Ryan Miller reported that Tua had a back injury instead of a head injury, allowing him to return during the second half. Head coach Mike McDaniels even said Tagovailoa had passed every concussion test and was just suffering from a back injury. 

It’s hard to believe that, considering Tua never signaled his back was hurting, nor did he signal it was anything else.

Even if Tagovailoa was in back pain, putting him back into the game makes no sense — like jumping out of the frying pan into the fire. Playing with a bad back can lead to multiple career-ending injuries, so there’s still no justification for putting him back in the game regardless of his official diagnosis.

Tua would finish the day with a respectable stat line of 13/18 for 186 yards and one touchdown. Despite a solid outing, I would not have put Tua back into the ball game. His health is much more important than any game, much less one in week three. 

I get the game was against a divisional rival, and you want to make a statement, but at some point, you have to protect your players and do what’s suitable for their health. 

Four days later, Tua got the start vs. the Cincinnati Bengals. Social media blew up as everyone was concerned about his well being — everyone but the Miami Dolphins. 

With around six minutes left in the first half, Tua got sacked again, and his head hit the ground hard. He rolled over, and he couldn’t move. His fingers started to lock up together, which is a common symptom of a head injury.

It was a heartrending sight for everyone watching the Thursday night game. He was then put on a stretcher and sent to a nearby hospital, where he was re-evaluated. 

Reports came out that Tua did indeed have a concussion, and on Oct. 2, the NFLPA said they believed Tua should’ve never gone back into the game vs. the Bills on Sunday, let alone play on Thursday. This is the consequence of the Miami Dolphins’ actions when you risk your player’s health. 

Consistent brain injuries (like concussions) can lead to chronic traumatic encephalopathy or CTE. Some long-term effects of CTE are loss of memory, depression, suicidal behavior, aggressiveness, and dementia.

Over the last few years, the NFL has put in the effort to reduce the number of concussions for player safety. They’ve built new helmets yearly and changed the game’s rules to prevent concussions. One of the most common rules today is that defensive players are not allowed to lead with their head to make a tackle, but rather their shoulder. 

Despite these rules and helmet changes, the NFL has yet to crack this problem because concussions are still happening at a large rate. 

On Oct. 1, the doctor who evaluated Tua was reported to be making several mistakes, thus leading to the doctor getting fired. To have someone on your staff make this horrible mistake is something that is borderline unforgivable. 

Despite the rough month for the Dolphins, Tagovailoa does look to come back against the Pittsburgh Steelers for their week seven match-up. The Dolphins will look to improve their record to 4-3 on the season after dropping three straight games in large part due to Tua’s injury. 

This entire situation could’ve been avoided had the Miami Dolphins made the right call from the beginning. They put their franchise quarterback in danger for a regular season game and are lucky that nothing severe happened.