NFL Fans React to NFLPA’s New Push on Concussion Protocols

by Sean Griffin
(Photo via Getty Images / Stephen Dunn / Staff)

The NFLPA (National Football League Players Association) agreed to change concussion protocols and now urges the NFL to accept the changes before Sunday’s games.

“We would like these changes to go into effect before this weekend’s games to immediately protect the players and hope the NFL accepts the change before then as well,” the NFLPA said Friday in a statement.

The desire to change the protocol comes after a few scary collisions in recent weeks. Most notably, Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa suffered a concussion on Sept. 29. The hit sent him to the hospital and looked incredibly scary. It also occurred just four days after he was put into concussion protocol because he wobbled to the turf after a tackle in a game against the Buffalo Bills.

Tagovailoa and the Dolphins first said that he suffered a hyperextended back, leading to the fall. However, a neurologist was later terminated by the NFLPA after it was found that he made “several mistakes” while evaluating the quarterback in that game.

In the Sept. 29 game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Tagovailoa suffered head and neck injuries after a brutal tackle. His hands contorted and curled up, a common neurological response to head trauma. He was later released from the hospital that night.

The Dolphins have said there is no timetable for Tagovailoa’s return to the gridiron. Tagovailoa was interviewed as part of the NFLPA’s investigation on the initial evaluation.

Moreover, during this week’s Thursday Night Football game, Indianapolis Colts running back Nyheim Hines suffered a similar injury. He showed gross motor instability after a tackle in a game against the Denver Broncos. Hines wobbled while walking and fell down. He was determined to be concussed and missed the remainder of the game.

NFLPA Fires Doctor Who Cleared Tua Tagovailoa During Bills Game

The NFL Players Association fired the unaffiliated neurotrauma consultant (UNC) involved in treating Tagovailoa after an injury suffered in last Sunday’s matchup against the Buffalo Bills.

An NFLPA representative confirmed the firing on Saturday to USA TODAY Sports.

Both the UNC and the Dolphins team doctor were interviewed on Friday. These interviews occurred the day after Tagovailoa was again injured during Thursday Night Football. In that loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, Tagovailoa slammed his head on the ground while being tackled. He was taken to the hospital after being carted off the field.

According to the NFL, every Unaffiliated Neurotrauma Consultant gets selected and then credentialed by the players union. Additionally, they are credentialed by the NFL Head, Neck and Spine Committee. These UNCs help assist each team’s medical staff to identify concussions.

The UNCs operate independently of the team they work for. Moreover, they can call for stoppage of a game at any time if they suspect a player has a head injury. During every NFL game, two UNCs are present. One UNC operates each sideline.

The concussion protocol does state that players who have “gross motor instability” can return to the field. However, this can happen as long as the instability wasn’t neurologically related. Many have speculated whether or not Tagovailoa should’ve returned to the game against the Bills. Many also wonder whether his wobble-inducing injury was actually a “back” injury as the team had claimed.