In the wake of injuries suffered by Tua Tagovailoa during each of the past two games, the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) has dismissed the unaffiliated neurotrauma consultant (UNC) who was involved in assessing the original injury.
The NFL Players Association has exercised its prerogative to terminate the Unaffiliated Neurotrauma Consultant involved in the Tua Tagovailoa situation last Sunday, per source.
— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) October 1, 2022
I’m told the unaffiliated neurotrama consultant involved in Tua Tagovailoa’s concussion test last Sunday was fired after the NFLPA found the person made several mistakes, per source.
— Cameron Wolfe (@CameronWolfe) October 1, 2022
That first injury to Tagovailoa took place last Sunday in the Miami Dolphins’ game against the Buffalo Bills. After Tagovailoa hit his head after being hit by a Bills player, he got up before quickly falling again.
Tua does not appear to be okay after taking a hard hit….😢 pic.twitter.com/GnhUypzrwo
— Dolphin Nation (@Dolphin_Nation) September 25, 2022
Despite concerns over a possible concussion, Tagovailoa came back into the game and seemed to show no lingering effects from the injury.
However, during the Dolphins’ Thursday night road game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Tagovailoa again hit his head on the ground after being tackled. In this case, Tagovailoa ended up being wheeled off the field on a stretcher and treated at a local hospital.
On Friday, Tagovailoa expressed his thanks to those who indicated their concern about his well-being.
Appreciate all the support! 🙏🏾 pic.twitter.com/jWBYyvbbwg
— Tua. T 🇦🇸 (@Tua) September 30, 2022
The labor-management agreement between the NFL and NFLPA allows the union to take this drastic step. Tagovailoa’s second injury led to widespread criticism about him being cleared after the first time he went down.
Ordinarily, the league’s concussion protocol checks on a player who is deemed to have “gross motor instability,” something that was clearly evident in Tagovailoa’s case. For a player to return to the game, the team physician, with assistance from the UNC, has to conclude that the issue didn’t have a neurological cause.
The increased attention on head injuries in football developed with the prevalence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) among former football players. The neurodegenerative disease is most prominently seen in football players as well as other athletes, such as boxers who sustain repeated hits to the head.
The fact that Tagovailoa seemingly sustained two head injuries within five days is a major cause for concern. That’s because some studies have shown a link between multiple sports concussions and CTE.
At present, there’s no word regarding Tagovailoa’s status for the Oct. 9 road game against the New York Jets. After that contest, the Dolphins will return home for an Oct. 16 matchup against the Minnesota Vikings.
If Tagovailoa is unable to play, backup quarterback Teddy Bridgewater will take his place.