Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa underwent further testing on Friday and remained in concussion protocol a day after hitting his head on the turf during a game, a chilling moment that hason how the league handles potential head injuries.
Tagovailoa had a headache Thursday night and Friday morning, Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel said. The team was still awaiting MRI results, which McDaniel said was done as an “extra precaution” in addition to CT scans and X-rays taken the night before.
McDaniel said he had no timeline on when Tagovailoa might be able to return.
“I don’t even really think about schedules or anything about him as a player right now,” McDaniel said. “It’s all about Tua the person.”
Tagovailoa tweeted a statement Friday night, thanking fans for their support.
“It was tough not being able to finish the game and be there with my teammates, but I’m grateful for the support and care I received from the Dolphins, my friends and family, and all the people who have reached out to me,” he said. “I feel a lot better and I’m focusing on recovery so I can get back on the pitch with my teammates.”
Tagovailoa was fired by Bengals defensive tackle Josh Topou late in the first half Thursday. On the play, he turned around awkwardly and was thrown to the grass. While on the ground, Tagovailoa appeared to display the fencing response, fingers frozen in front of his face.
He remained on the ground for over seven minutes before being loaded onto a backboard and stretched off the field. He was taken to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center for evaluation.
The Dolphins later said he was conscious and had movement in all of his extremities. He was released Thursday night and returned to Miami with the team.
McDaniel said Tagovailoa was interacting with his teammates on the return flight. He sat next to McDaniel and told him about the game.
“His personality was a normal Tua,” McDaniel added.
It’s unclear what’s next for Tagovailoa, whose breakout season was cut short by a frightening injury two weeks after throwing a career-high six touchdowns in Week 2 against Baltimore.
Last Sunday against Buffalo, Tagovailoa received a base hit from Bills linebacker Matt Milano late in the first half and appeared to hit his head on the turf. He tripped as he got up and was immediately taken to the locker room, where he was assessed for a concussion. He returned to action early in the third quarter and was not in concussion protocol the following week, despite questions about why he was allowed to return.
Sunday’s incident prompted the NFL and the National Football League Players’ Association to jointly review the extent of his injuries and whether the Dolphins followed proper concussion protocol that day.
“Ninety-nine point nine percent of the time that player gets kicked out of the game without even thinking about it,” said Concussion Legacy Foundation CEO Chris Nowinski, “CBS Mornings” co-host Nate Burleson.
Nowinski, a neuroscientist, said the dolphins put Tagovailoa’s life in danger and failed to protect him.
“It’s a failure of everyone. It’s a failure of the medical team. It’s a failure of the independent medical team on Sunday. It’s a failure of the technical staff. The problem is all these failures, none of them are going to be punished. The person being punished here is Tua,” Nowinski said.
The results of the joint NFL-NFLPA investigation have yet to be released, but Miami Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel is adamant the Dolphins followed proper protocols last Sunday. .
“If there’s any tendency for someone to have a concussion, they go into concussion protocol, and it’s very strict. As long as I’m the head coach, it will never be something you’ll have to worry about,” McDaniel said. .
The NFLPA tweeted Thursday night: “The health and safety of the players is at the heart of the union’s mission. Our concern this evening is for Tua and we hope for a full and speedy recovery. Our investigation into the potential breach of protocol is ongoing.”
McDaniel reiterated Friday that Tagovailoa was cleared by multiple layers of medical professionals during that game and said he did not have a head injury.
“My coaching job is here for the players. I take it very seriously,” McDaniel said. “And no one else in the building deviates from that.”
He added: “There was no medical indication from any resources that there was anything concerning the head. If there had been, of course I couldn’t have lived with me. -even though I had prematurely put someone there.”
On Thursday, the reaction came quickly from all over the NFL. Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes and Broncos QB Russell Wilson were quick to tweet in concern for Tagovailoa’s well-being.
“I pray for you Tua,” Wilson wrote.
Some criticized the decision to play Tagovailoa so soon after his injuries in Sunday’s game.
Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh called the situation “astonishing.”
“I couldn’t believe what I saw last night,” Harbaugh told reporters on Friday. “I couldn’t believe what I saw last Sunday. It was just amazing to see, and I’ve been coaching for 40 years…I’ve never seen anything like it before. “
Hall of Famer Shannon Sharpe tweeted: “It’s a serious injury. Tua shouldn’t have been there with Sunday’s change Thursday. Sometimes players need to protect themselves from them Dolphins beached Tua.”