Tua Tagovailoa’s scary head and neck injuries suffered in Thursday’s game between the Dolphins and Bengals have turned the spotlight back on how the NFL handles concussions. And one prominent voice is calling for change.
JC Tretter, president of the NFL Players’ Association, says the union will “take every possible measure to get the facts and hold those responsible accountable.”
The NFLPA and NFL initiated an investigation into the Dolphins’ handling of an injury suffered by Tagovailoa in Sunday’s game against the Bills. In that game, the quarterback appeared to be wobbly late in the second quarter and was removed from the field with what the team initially said was a head injury.
But he ultimately only missed three snaps and returned to the game to start the second half. The team then said Tagovailoa was dealing with a back injury and he was cleared to start Thursday’s game, which he ultimately left on a stretcher after being sacked midway through the second quarter.
“We are all outraged by what we have seen the last several days and scared for the safety of one of our brothers,” Tretter wrote in a statement on his Twitter account. “What everyone saw both Sunday and last night were ‘no-go’ symptoms within our concussion protocols. The protocols exist to protect the player and that is why we initiated an investigation.”
Tagovailoa was transported to a hospital in Cincinnati and the team reported he was conscious and had movement in all of his extremities. He was later released from hospital and travelled home with the Dolphins early Friday morning.
Tretter, who retired from playing this summer, said that changes to the NFL’s concussion protocols may be necessary to prevent injuries like the ones suffered by Tagovailoa.
“Until we have an objective and validated method of diagnosing brain injury, we have to do everything possible, including amending the protocols, to further reduce the potential of human error,” he wrote. “A failure in medical judgement is a failure of the protocols when it comes to the well being of our players.”