Over the weekend, the NFL Players Association fired one of the independent doctors who cleared Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa to play on Thursday night. Tagovailoa took a hard hit the previous Sunday against the Buffalo Bills, and many assumed he had a concussion. Following another brutal tackle on Thursday, fans and analysts alike criticized the decisions that led to Tagovailoa playing only four days after the first hit.
The NFL and NFLPA both investigated Miami’s handling of Tua Tagovailoa’s head injury two Sundays ago. After Thursday’s scary hit, the 24-year-old QB was carried off the field on a stretcher. That led to even more speculation about the team mishandling the injury. The incident is also supposedly leading to major changes to the league’s concussion protocols. And they could be enforced as soon as next weekend.
Yet the first change has come in the firing of an unaffiliated neurotrauma consultant (UNC) who assessed Tua Tagovailoa. After treating the young QB out of Alabama, the doctor cleared Tagovailoa to play during his team’s primetime matchup on Thursday Night Football against the Cincinnati Bengals. According to USA TODAY Sports, the NFLPA confirmed to the outlet that the independent doctor has been dismissed.
Major Changes to Concussion Protocols Coming After Tua Tagovailoa Head Injury
Tua Tagovailoa’s most recent head injury has put a new emphasis on the NFL’s safety precautions, including the league’s concussion protocols. Further reports came out stating that the Miami Dolphins conducted their own internal investigation as well following their quarterback’s injury.
USA TODAY Sports shared that the Dolphins interviewed both the team doctor and the UNC on Friday before the NFLPA fired the independent doctor. The players union and the NFL Head, Neck and Spine Committee select each UNC. The independent doctors are responsible for helping teams to identify concussions. UNCs have the power to stop players from entering the game if they suspect a head injury. Plus, each team has its own UNC, therefore two independent neurotrauma experts are on the sideline every game.
On Saturday, the NFL and NFLPA released a joint statement following the scary incident involving Tua Tagovailoa. The league and players association agreed “that modifications are needed to enhance player safety.” They added that the league anticipates “changes to the (concussion) protocol being made in the coming days.”
Dolphins HC Mike McDaniel Defends Team’s Handling of QB’s Injury
After the Dolphins lost to the Bengals 27-15 on Thursday night, Miami’s head coach Mike McDaniel addressed the media in his post-game presser. While speaking to reporters, he defended himself and the franchise saying the team followed all protocols.
“Otherwise we would have reported a head injury,” McDaniel said in the press conference. “That’s why the NFL has these protocols, and there’s not, like every single NFL game that is played, there’s an independent specialist that specializes in specialty brain matter. For me, as long as I’m coaching here, I’m not gonna fudge that whole situation. If there’s any sort of inclination that someone has a concussion, they go into concussion protocol, and it’s very strict. People don’t vary or stray. We don’t mess with that. Never have, and as long as I’m the head coach, that will never be an issue you guys have to worry about.”