Tagovailoa has to decide: career or health?
Should Tua Tagovailoa continue to play football? After the quarterback suffered his third head injury in a year, that’s the question everyone who supports him and the Miami Dolphins is asking.
The doctors who refused to release Tagovailoa from concussion protocol this Wednesday gave a preliminary answer: No. “Football activities” had not crossed his mind yet. Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel then announced that in the wild card game against the Buffalo Bills (Sundays, from 6:30pm on ProSieben and live) will accumulate backup Skylar Thompson.
A quick kill shot as a cautionary tale
Athletically underpowered compared to Tagovailoa, who has the best passer rating of all NFL quarterbacks in the regular season despite a shaky O-Line. But McDaniel must be secretly glad that doctors have spared him a difficult decision. Because even if Tagovailoa received the medical green light, it would be a morally questionable decision to use in a wild card round.
Once before, on Game 4 day of the season, the Dolphins fielded Tagovailoa again against the Cincinnati Bengals four days later after suffering a severe blow to the head and apparent difficulty staying on their feet. There he hit the back of his head on the floor and lay there with his hands strangely clenched. Diagnosis: concussion.
The Dolphins’ careless handling of top-of-the-line health was truly one of the thrills of the early weeks of the season. The recurrence will serve as a revealing section for the way teams treat their players, especially against the backdrop of the haunting images of Damar Hamlin’s meltdown.
McDaniel’s statements fuel suspicion
In the most recent post-knockout against the New York Jets on December 26, 2022, when Tagovailoa was lying motionless on the floor, the quarterback symbolized the NFL’s problem with head injuries, which the league can’t seem to get rid of despite the new rules. Former player Marcus Spears even recommended that he “seriously consider quitting” after the incident.
The fact that the quarterback has not yet been released from concussion protocol 16 days post-concussion should be understood as the next warning sign—for the NFL, the Dolphins, but primarily for Tagovailoa.
McDaniel’s recent statements about health are also more of a concern than a hope: instead of thinking about the qualifiers, according to doctors who treat Tagovailoa, it’s now important to “think only about the present now,” McDaniel stated. If and when can quarterback play again? More importantly, Tagovailoa “comes back healthy as a person,” the coach said. This does not feel like a quick comeback.
A midfielder where fear always plays its part
At just 24 years old, Tagovailoa faces a dilemma: career or health? How many headshots can he take? Is there a threat of long-term health damage yet?
The Dolphins and those in charge of other franchises also have to ask themselves if they want to rely on a quarterback where fear always plays a role. American experts have already called for Tagovailoa not to be used in these qualifiers — even if he is released from concussion protocol. With every other head injury, the future Tuas must – rightfully – face a discussion about a sense of responsibility.
Ironically, after its strongest season in the NFL in terms of sport, Tua Tagovailoa appears to no longer have a future in the NFL.