NFL’s Chief Medical Officer Speaks Out About Tua Tagovailoa’s Scary Head Injury

by Nick Geddes
(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa suffered head and neck injuries during Miami’s 27-15 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals on Thursday night.

Tagovailoa was taken off the field on a stretcher and transported to a nearby hospital. He flew home with the team after the hospital discharged him. Tagovailoa has movement in all his extremities. NFL chief medical officer Dr. Allen Sills addressed the incident with the Daily Mail on Friday.

“Obviously we’re always concerned when any of our players suffers an injury – of any type – and it’s our goal to prevent as many injuries as possible and certainly to quickly diagnose any injuries that occur and treat them appropriately,” Sills said. “I’m a neurosurgeon and I have spent my entire career treating people with brain and spinal cord injuries – both athletes and non-athletes – and it’s been my passion and practice and my livelihood for many decades. So I’m entirely devoted to this issue and the idea that NFL can and will be a leader in all of sport in this area. 

“We have made a number of changes to our concussion protocol … we take a very detailed and involved look at ourselves, our outcomes, our procedures every single year in the idea of getting better. And we have got better and I believe we’ll continue to get better. We will get better through this incident as well. That’s the nature of medicine. As a physician, I certainly don’t do things identical today to what I did five or 10 years ago. That quest to improve will continue.”

NFL Speaks Out on Tua Tagovailoa’s Injury

The NFL is facing criticism for its protocols as the injury comes four days removed from Tagovailoa taking a late hit against the Buffalo Bills.

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 anymore steps. The training staff came onto the field and subsequently 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. A review is ongoing to determine whether the Dolphins properly followed the league’s concussion protocol. That, of course, was all before the vicious hit on Thursday.

Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel said after the game that he does not feel there’s a connection between the two hits.

“I don’t think that an injury from last week made him fall the same way this week, but yeah, I do not have any, like absolutely zero patience for, or will ever put a player in position for them to be in harm’s way,” McDaniel said. “That is not what I’m about at all, and no outcome of a game would ever influence me being responsible as the head coach of a football team.”