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Should Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa play again this season after a third concussion?

Surely there can be no justification given, for allowing the Dolphins signal caller to continue the campaign, after what was his 3rd concussion this year.

Should Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa play again this season after a third concussion?
Miami HeraldGetty

Following what was yet another harrowing moment for Miami’s signal caller, a number of former NFL players urged both the league and the player to call time on his 2022-23 campaign. The question now is: What will Tua Tagovailoa do?

Former NFL players plead with NFL, Dolphins & Tua to end current season

NFL fans would likely have been shocked on Monday, when they learned via a Miami Dolphins announcement that quarterback Tua Tagovailoa had been placed in the NFL’s concussion protocol. Why you ask? Simply because Tagovailoa actually played the entirety of what turned out to be a Christmas Day loss on Sunday to the Green Bay Packers. To be clear, the Dolphins signal caller didn’t appear to show any signs of a problem during the game. Needless to say, the news raised immediate concerns about Tagovailoa’s health, given that this is now the third time for the season that he’s been placed in the league’s concussion protocol. One may recall, that as recently as September he was hospitalized for his second head injury in two games.

With all of this in mind, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that several ex-NFL players immediately urged both the Dolphins and Tagovailoa himself, to bring an end to his season right here and now. Firstly, there were former QBs Steve Young and Robert Griffin III who discussed the topic with fellow NFL alumni Booger McFarland. Indeed, all three pleaded with the league to use greater caution where head injuries are concerned, before calling on Tagovailoa to stop playing for the remainder of the season.

What did the former NFL players say about Tua Tagovailoa

While Young didn’t directly call for Tagovailoa to end his season, the 49ers legend did make clear that the NFL should utilize more safeguards, while acknowledging the medical challenges that come with evaluating brain injuries. “The final frontier of medical science is the brain,” Young said. ...We as players do not understand or have any insight into how much risk is involved with our heads. We don’t know, and medical science can’t really tell us. In the end, we’re out there every day risking something we can’t assess. So Tua goes jumping back in there. ...I recognize how difficult this is for the NFL and how much is at stake. If we’re gonna be serious about it, we have to be able to test somebody pregame, and they’re out for the game.” Ironically, Young who is a Hall of Fame QB for the 49ers, called time on his career in 2000 following repeated concussions which in turn led many to believe he was at risk of permanent brain damage. Over the years, he’s been an outspoken advocate for better treatment and analysis of brain injuries in football.

McFarland on the other hand, didn’t mince words as he directly called for Tagovailoa to bring the curtain down. “Tua Tagovailoa shouldn’t play any more this season if the NFL is serious about health and safety and concussions,” McFarland said. Then, there was Griffin who himself saw his career prematurely ended by injuries. “When we talk about these head injuries, it’s nothing to play with,” Griffin said. “You’ve got to put the person ahead of the player. I’m more concerned about Tua and his longevity with life than I am about whether’s he’s gonna play on Sunday. He should not play for the rest of the season.”

Eagles’ great Emmanuel Acho doesn’t want to wait to be’sorry’

While the aforementioned greats of the game seemed to address valid points, it was perhaps former Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Emmanual Acho, who hit the proverbial nail on its head. Echoing Griffin and McFarland, Acho was clear in his stance when speaking about the situation. “You’ve gotta shut Tua down for the season,” Acho said. “Period. No conversation, no discussion, no second thoughts. You’ve got to shut him down for the season. ...It is better to be safe than to be sorry. The Dolphins have already been sorry once this year.”

If you’re wondering what Acho was referring to, just think back to the Dolphins’ game against the Bengals in Week 4. On that day, Tagovailoa had to be stretchered off the field following a horrific hit which his head bounce off the ground, resulting in him lying on the ground, fingers contorted and unresponsive. As mentioned above, it was the second injury to his head in two weeks following a tackle against the Bills which left him disoriented. On that occasion, Tagovailoa was allowed to return to the field, a decision that has since been heavily criticized. In the end, the NFLPA dismissed the doctor responsible for clearing the signal caller and subsequently updated the league’s concussion protocol. Yet, it may be that Acho has a valid point, which is to say: it was too little too late.

What do the Dolphins do now?

Here’s the thing: The Dolphins are currently in a heated AFC battle for a playoff spot. In their final two games, they’ve got a date with the New England Patriots, followed by one with the New York Jets. To be clear, Miami’s postseasonposition will be determined by the results of those games. At the moment, the Dolphins have given no official word on whether Tagovailoa will face the Patriots on Sunday, but rest assured the pressure on the team to not field their starting quaterback will be immense. On the other hand, if it’s a question of a player’s long-term health, is there really any other choice?


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