NFLPA Approves Concussion Protocol Changes in Wake of Tua Tagovailoa Injury
The NFLPA has agreed to modified concussion protocols to attempt to prevent players that show obvious signs of concussions from returning to games, like when Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa returns to his team’s game on Sept. 25.
Tagovailoa stumbled while attempting to get back to his feet after taking a hit in the game against the Buffalo Bills. He was allowed to return to the game, with the team announcing his ailment as a back injury.
Tagovailoa then played in Miami’s next game against the Cincinnati Bengals on Thursday, when he was slammed to the ground. In that game, Tagovailoa exhibited a fencing response, a symptom of a concussion, and was transported from the field on a stretcher before being taken to a Cincinnati hospital.
He was treated and released, flying back to Miami with the team, but will not play this week and there is no current timeframe for his return. Miami head coach Mike McDaniel defended playing Tagovailoa against the Bengals.
The image of the supine Miami quarterback writhing on the turf in Cincinnati, just a week after suffering a previous injury, caused great concern among NFL fanbases, leaders and concussion experts.
“It’s very troubling when you have a second impact syndrome,” former Steelers player and current neurosurgery intern Myron Rolle said to ESPN. “Another concussion within four days, within 10 days. … 20 years ago, you had 90% of the concussions after the first hit, happened within 10 days. That recovery phase, that acute phase, that very delicate time frame, about a week to 10 days, the time when you really, really need to go slow and be conservative and manage these patients as best as possible.”
The NFLPA and NFL are conducting a joint investigation into the issue, which remains ongoing. The unaffiliated neurotrauma consultant that cleared Tagovailoa to return to the game has been fired by the NFLPA.
The union has proactively approved changes to the concussion protocol and asked for those changes to be implemented immediately in a statement released on Friday:
“Our union has agreed to change the concussion protocols to protect players from returning to play in the case of any similar incident to what we saw on September 25. We would like these changes to go into effect before this weekend’s games to immediately protect the players and hope the NFL accepts the change before then as well.”
It’s not clear exactly what changes the union would like to see immediately implement. No changes were in place for the Week 5 game between the Denver Broncos and Indianapolis Colts on Thursday night.