NFLPA fires neurotrauma consultant who evaluated Dolphins' Tagovailoa for concussion against Bills: reports
QB was cleared to return despite stumbling off field, sustained concussion just 4 days later against Bengals
The NFL Players Association has fired the unaffiliated neurotrauma consultant who evaluated Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa after he stumbled off the field against Buffalo last weekend, a person familiar with the decision told The Associated Press on Saturday.
The person who confirmed the firing, which was first reported by Pro Football Talk, spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because a joint review by the NFL and its players' union into Tagovailoa's quick return to Sunday's game is ongoing.
Essentially, he did not represent the best interests of the players in the view of the NFLPA. <a href="https://t.co/vot9QkphBU">https://t.co/vot9QkphBU</a>—@RapSheet
There are three unaffiliated neurotrauma consultants (UNC) at each game. They are jointly paid by the league and the players' union to work with team physicians to diagnose concussions. The NFLPA is exercising its right to terminate the UNC directly involved in the decision to clear Tagovailoa, who sustained a concussion following a frightening hit just four days later at Cincinnati on Thursday night.
Tagovailoa initially seemed to exhibit concussion symptoms after the hit to his head during the home game against Buffalo, but he was cleared by a team physician and UNC to return. He and the team later explained his legs were wobbly because of a back injury.
It's unknown whether there's any correlation between the two injuries. Concussions are common in the NFL, especially when a player is thrown to the ground by a man Tupou's size and his head hits the turf.
Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel defended the team's handling of the quarterback's injury against the Bills, when he took a hit from linebacker Matt Milano late in the first half and appeared to knock his head on the turf. Tagovailoa stumbled when he got up and was taken to the locker room for evaluation, then returned to the game at the start of the third quarter.
McDaniel reiterated Friday that Tagovailoa was cleared by several layers of medical professionals during that game and said the QB did not have a head injury, which is why he was not in the concussion protocol heading into Thursday's game. McDaniel said Friday there is no timetable for Tagovailoa's return.
Appreciate all the support! 🙏🏾 <a href="https://t.co/jWBYyvbbwg">pic.twitter.com/jWBYyvbbwg</a>—@Tua
'Modifications are needed'
Many observers questioned why Tagovailoa was allowed to return to the field against the Bills.
The league and the NFLPA issued a statement that said they had made no conclusions about "medical errors or protocol violations" while the investigation is still underway. But the two added that "modifications are needed ... to enhance player safety" and that they expect "changes to the [concussion] protocol" to happen "in the coming days based on what has been learned thus far in the review process."
Our joint statement with the <a href="https://twitter.com/NFL?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@NFL</a> on the Tua Tagovailoa concussion investigation: <a href="https://t.co/zXFmtKm4lV">pic.twitter.com/zXFmtKm4lV</a>—@NFLPA