NFLPA Fires Doctor Who Cleared Tua Tagovailoa During Bills Game

by Sean Griffin
(Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images)

There’s a new update in the unfolding saga concerning Miami Dolphins star QB Tua Tagovailoa and his concussion-like symptoms in his last two contests.

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.

Tua Tagovailoa Suffered Another Injury During Thursday Night Football

Plenty of fans were upset with the team’s handling of the situation at the time, and it’s become a much larger issue after Tagovailoa suffered a brutal head injury during a game on Thursday, just a few days later.

The Dolphins entered the contest undefeated, riding the high-flying offense led by Tagovailoa and wide receivers Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle. The team had wins over the Bills, Ravens, and Patriots before meeting the Bengals. However, in the second quarter of the game, Tagovailoa was carted off the field after a brutal injury. The collision seemed to give Tua concussion-like symptoms.

On the play, Bengals’ defender Josh Toupou grabbed onto Tagovailoa and slammed him to the ground. In the collision, Tua’s shoulder and head make contact with the ground. Tua’s hands immediately start spreading out after the hit. This reaction is a common neurological response to head trauma.

The hit was incredibly scary and prompted the medical staff to cart Tua from the field and transport him to the local hospital.

Tua Tagovailoa recently shared his first update since the injury on Thursday.

“I want to thank everyone for all of their prayers and support since the game last night,” he wrote in a Twitter post. “It was difficult to not be able to finish the game and be there with my teammates, but I am grateful for the support and care I’ve received from the Dolphins, my friends and family, and all the people who have reached out.”

He finished the statement with this final thought. “I’m feeling much better and focused on recovering so I can get back out on the field with my teammates.”