Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa Defends NFL Return After Scary Concussion

by Nick Geddes
(Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images)

Some said that he should never play football again. That it wasn’t worth it. Perhaps Tua Tagovailoa could have done just that — gone home and called it quits.

Nobody would have blamed the Miami Dolphins quarterback after the scary scene on the field of his team’s Week 4 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, when Tagovailoa’s head bounced off the ground after he was sacked. Tagovailoa was stretchered off the field and diagnosed with a concussion. The highly-publicized injury was subject to an investigation from the league and resulted in the modification of the NFL‘s concussion protocol.

But here we are — three weeks later — and Tagovailoa is set to make his return to the Dolphins. He will be under center in Miami’s (3-3) Week 7 road matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers (2-4) on “Sunday Night Football.” Ahead of Sunday’s primetime tilt, Tagovailoa sat down with NBC Sports‘ Maria Taylor to discuss his comeback.

“We only have a short span of our prime time if you will, of our prime,” Tagovailoa said. “It’s not long, and you know, I wanna do good by everyone in this organization.”

Tua Tagovailoa Talks About the Night He Suffered a Concussion

Tagovailoa revealed this week that he lost consciousness and does not remember what happened immediately after his head hit the ground. He did, however, remember being taken to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center via ambulance and his trip back to Miami with his teammates the following morning.

“I wouldn’t say it was scary for me at the time because there was a point where I was unconscious, so I couldn’t really tell what was going on,” Tagovailoa told reporters, via ESPN. “When I did come to and kind of realized what was going on and what was happening, I didn’t think of anything long term or short term. I was just wondering what happened.”

Tagovailoa suffered the concussion four days removed from taking a late hit against the Buffalo Bills in Week 3. Tagovailoa bounced back up but it was immediately clear he was not OK. He had trouble staying on his feet and fell to the ground. He got back up on his own before his teammates grabbed him and restricted him from taking any more steps. The training staff came onto the field and took him back into the locker room. He passed the concussion check and returned in the second half of Miami’s 21-19 victory.

The Dolphins said that Tagovailoa tweaked his back in the first quarter and the hit from Bills linebacker Matt Milano caused it to lock up. The NFLPA fired the doctor involved in clearing Tagovailoa.

Tua Tagovailoa Finds Himself in Similar Situation

Miami has dropped back-to-back games with Tagovailoa sidelined. It’s nothing new for the 24-year-old, who entered a similar situation last season. He missed time in 2021 with a rib injury and returned to a team that had lost four consecutive games. Tagovailoa said he learned a lot from the experience.

“I just gotta be myself — I’m not the savior of this team,” Tagovailoa said. “I don’t just come in and we start winning games. It’s a team deal. The defense gets us stops, the offense goes and puts points on the board and the defense can help put points on the board as well as special teams. So for me, I just look at it as coming into this week and just be myself. Don’t try to force anything. Don’t try to make plays that aren’t there — just give our playmakers the ball and let them go to work.”