The NFL Players Associations terminated an “unaffiliated neurotrauma consultant” who was involved in Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa’s concussion check in the game against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, September 25th.
Tagovailoa went down in the Bills game after receiving a hit from Bills linebacker Matt Milano. Following the hit, Tagovailoa got up, shook his head, and then collapsed back to the ground.
— Browns Rally Possum (@BrownsRally) September 25, 2022
He was then removed from the game with the Miami Dolphins’ official Twitter account reporting he suffered a “head injury” and was “questionable to return.”
However, he would return to the game and lead the Dolphins to a 21 to 19 win over the Bills and a 3-0 record.
Following the game Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel revealed it wasn’t a head injury, but a back injury. He explained, “Now, Tua, he went out with a lower back, and I hadn’t had that rep with him yet.”
McDaniel added, “He kind of got bent back pretty significantly on a quarterback sneak earlier. I was kind of with everyone else. When he hit his head on the ground, I assumed it was a head injury, but his legs got wobbly because his lower back was completely loose and as he described it, he said his lower back was like Gumby or something.”
Tagovailoa also addressed the media explaining it was a back and ankle issue, “I would say it was more the back than the ankle. The ankle was just, I would say, after the game soreness when my legs got caught up under whoever it was on the quarterback’s knee.”
When asked about his head, he responded, “I’m fine.”
However, in the Dolphins Thursday night match up against the Cincinnati Bengals, Tagovailoa would exit the game following a violent sack from the Bengals’ Josh Tupou.
Tagovailoa was carted off the field on a stretcher and transported to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center. The team reported at the time he suffered “head and neck injuries.”
Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel also confirmed it was a concussion in a post-game press conference explaining, ““It was a scary moment. He was evaluated for a concussion and he’s in the concussion protocol. He was at the hospital, I believe he’s about to get discharged. That was an emotional moment.”
“That is not part of the deal that anyone signs up for even though you know it’s a possibility in football to have something that you have to get taken off in a stretcher. All of his teammates, myself, we’re all very concerned. The best news that we could get is that everything is checked out, that he didn’t have anything more serious than a concussion. He’ll be flying back with us here on the plane,” he added.
On October 1st, two days after the Dolphins game against the Bengals, the NFLPA announced they had terminated the neurotrauma consultant.
NFL.com reports, “The NFLPA cited several factors in terminating the unaffiliated neurotrauma consultant (UNC), including failure to understand his role as UNC and hostility during the investigation process, Pelissero and NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport report, per sources. Pelissero adds that both the unaffiliated neurotrauma consultant and the Dolphins’ team physician were interviewed on Friday.”
Pelissero wrote on Twitter, “The NFL Players Association has terminated the unaffiliated neurotrauma consultant involved in Tua Tagovailoa’s concussion check last Sunday, as Pro Football Talk said.”
“Both the UNC and the Dolphins team physician were interviewed Friday, per source. Investigation ongoing,” he added.
Despite this reporting, the NFLPA also released a joint statement with the NFL that reads, “The joint NFL-NFLPA investigation into the application of the Concussion Protocol involving Miami Dolphins’ quarterback Tua Tagovailoa remains ongoing. Therefore, we have not made any conclusions about medical errors or protocol violations.”
It continues, “The NFL and the NFLPA agree that modifications to the Concussion Protocol are needed to enhance player safety. The NFLPA’s Mackey-White Health & Safety Committee and the NFL’s Head Neck and Spine Committee have already begun conversations around the use of the term ‘Gross Motor Instability’ and we anticipate changes to the protocol being made in the coming days based on what has been learned thus far in the review process.”
“The NFL and NFLPA share a strong appreciation for the unaffiliated neurotrauma consultants who contribute their time and expertise to our game solely to advance player safety. This program has made our game safer for the athletes who play it for the past twelve seasons,” the statement concludes.
The NFLPA and NFL joint statement doesn’t really add up to their actual actions. If they were truly appreciative of their neurotrauma consultants would they can a guy when they are supposedly still in the middle of their investigation and haven’t even “made any conclusions about medical errors or protocol violations?”
It also seems bizarre that Tagovailoa was subsequently cleared to play for the Bengals game if he did indeed suffer a concussion, as numerous people are theorizing, despite the denial by Tagovailoa and the Dolphins and the claim that it was a back injury.
One would think that more than just this neurotrauma consultant would be under fire given as NFL.com notes, “The team doctor and the unaffiliated neurotrauma consultant — most are neurosurgeons and neurologists, many chairmen of local neurosurgery departments — agreed it was safe for Tagovailoa to return to the game.”
In fact, they also add that the team doctor makes the official decision, but the NFL’s chief medical officer, Dr. Allen Sills, says the decisions are always unanimous.
YouTuber Ryan Kinel of Sports Wars reacted to the news about the neurotrauma consultant being fired stating, “Something like this certainly seems to indicate there is more here. That the story might not just be over with ‘Tua, just a concussion, I’ll be back in a couple weeks.’
“Now, it might go far deeper and this story might have several more twists and turns involved,” he concluded.
What do you make of this report that the NFLPA fired the neurotrauma consultant, but then released a statement noting their investigation is still ongoing?