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The Big Game or the Sidelines

Tua Tagovailoa, a quarterback for the Miami Dolphins, suffered a strong hit during Week 3, which has led people to question the NFL’s concussion protocol. During the Week 3 game Tagovailoa got tackled by Buffalo Bills linebacker Matt Milano in the second quarter. After this play, as he got up, he stumbled and was taken off the field to get assessed for a concussion. Tagovailoa returned to the field later to help the Dolphins win 21-19. 

The NFL concussion protocol is followed if the player is showing signs of a concussion or if the athletic trainer or any official takes action in giving the protocol. Once this protocol starts, the player is immediately removed from the game and stabilized. Once on the sideline, the team physician and UNC (unaffiliated neurotrauma consultant) will perform a neurological exam. They will examine the cervical spine, speech, eye movements, and pupils. If any of these evaluations come back positive, then the player is moved to the locker room and is not allowed to go back into the game. In the locker room, the physicians will do a complete neurological exam and an NFL SCAT. If everything is clear, the player can return to the game; but if not, they stay in the locker room and have to get evaluated periodically. In interviews after the game, Tua says that he’s ready to get back on the field, but that opens the eyes of the viewers and the concussion protocol.

Football is not only a physically draining sport, but it is mentally draining as well. These players have had the dream of playing for the NFL since they were little, and with one hit, they could lose all that. These players need protection against injuries like this because, even if Tua felt fine and passed these screenings, he still showed signs of a concussion. It is not Tua’s fault that he wanted to get back on the field as soon as possible, but articles have mentioned that there needs to be tighter regulation when it comes to hits like this. These players are shortly assessed, but it was clear what happened to Tua after his hit during that game. 

The problem that viewers saw during that week was that Tua was cleared to go back into the game on Sunday and was not put into a concussion protocol for Monday’s game. Tagovailoa had to make a choice between continuing to live his dream or his physical well-being, which would have led him to be sat on the sidelines until he was cleared. 

If it was you who had to choose between your dream or the sideline, what would you choose?