Pat McAfee: ‘Tua’s mental toughness might be the best in the history of the NFL’

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Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

During his self-titled podcast, Pat McAfee raved about the mental toughness of Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, saying that it might be the best in NFL history.

McAfee made his case about Tagovailoa by noting (at the 1:00 mark) the quarterback’s struggles he endured during his first two seasons as well as the conflicts with former Dolphins head coach Brian Flores.

“We actually chatted on this show about Tua’s mental toughness might be the best in the history of the NFL,” McAfee said. “I like to hear the fact that there was moments where Tua was like, ‘Do I suck?’ Because if he didn’t I would think he’s a f—— robot with the way things have gone under Flores’ leadership. Then we obviously hear about the potential paying for losses and what is the building like and toxic and then you hear people talk about how [Mike] McDaniel put together a 700-play f—— slide show to show Tua, ‘Hey, you’re a player.'”

The talk about Tagovailoa came after the third-year signal-caller delivered another solid performance in the Dolphins’ 30-15 victory over the Houston Texans on Sunday. Tagovailoa completed 22 of 36 passes for 299 yards and also threw for one touchdown pass.

For the 2022 campaign, Tagovailoa has thrown for 2,564 yards and 19 touchdowns and completed 69.7 percent of his pass attempts on the season.

Such success might come as a huge surprise, considering the Dolphins selected Tagovailoa with the fifth overall pick of the 2020 NFL Draft. At the time he was drafted, Tagovailoa was already exhibiting the sort of mental toughness needed to succeed in the NFL.

His collegiate career at the University of Alabama had ended as a result of a career-threatening hip injury. Surgery to repair the damage done wasn’t guaranteed, but Tagovailoa worked rigorously to be ready for the start of his rookie season in 2020.

Tagovailoa ended up starting nine games as a rookie and 12 more during the 2021 season, though the Dolphins came up just short of the playoffs in each of those years.

In the midst of trying to establish himself as a viable NFL quarterback, he was the subject of trade rumors as well as criticism for his play. Also, reported conflicts with Flores made for an uneasy relationship with the head coach.

The arrival of McDaniel has allowed Tagovailoa to thrive, though even this season has been touched by controversy. That’s because Tagovailoa’s concussions briefly overshadowed what he was accomplishing on the field.

After 11 games this season, the Dolphins are deadlocked with the Buffalo Bills for first place in the AFC East. Both teams are sporting 8-3 records, with the Dolphins getting ready for a huge matchup on Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers.

That game, as well as another regular season battle with the Bills in Buffalo on Dec. 18 will once again test Tagovailoa’s mental toughness. From McAfee’s perspective, that toughness has already been tested and will only benefit him in the seasons ahead.

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Brad is a freelance writer for and has been around long enough to remember the 1972 perfect season, and even when Don Shula was coaching the Colts. He still follows the Dolphins and other happenings in the NFL, so he can offer a little perspective when it comes to the ups and downs of each season. Some of his opinions may end up differing from the people who read them, but that's par for the course when it comes to life in South Florida.