The NFL is facing intense backlash after Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa sustained a serious head injury that could have been prevented.
During yesterday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals, nose tackle Josh Toupou sacked Tagovailoa in the second quarter. Tagovailoa crumpled over upon impact and his fingers temporarily contorted as he stared blankly at the ceiling after Toupou slammed him headfirst onto the gridiron. He was quickly stretchered off the field and rushed to the hospital and has since been seen back in South Beach wearing a neck brace.
But former players, health experts and commentators are outraged that Tagovailoa was permitted to play in Thursday’s contest in the first place after sustaining a similar head injury this past Sunday against the Buffalo Bills, which forced him to temporarily exit the game.
In a TikTok video, former NFL offensive lineman Emmanuel Acho blames the league’s allegedly cursory concussion protocol. He recalls an anecdote from his youth where he explains that he was deemed healthy after correctly identifying the date and the current president following a big hit, only to find himself struggling to find his house after the game.
“I don’t care if you clear concussion protocol, it doesn’t mean you’re perfectly healthy,” he said in the clip. “Your eyes should tell you what a concussion test doesn’t even need to.”
ESPN’s “First Take” commentator Stephen A. Smith and concussion specialist Chris Nowinski had much stronger words to say about the handling of Tagovailoa’s situation. Smith unleashed a heated and animated tirade calling for the firing of those in the NFL or Dolphins organization who permitted him to play. Nowinski went further, floating the possibility of murder charges and imprisonment for a potentially fatal impact.
Prior to his injury, the Samoan American quarterback was having a career season, leading his team to a perfect 3-0 record while posting the league’s second highest totals in passing yards and quarterback rating, as well as the league’s third highest total in passing touchdowns.