There’s a bunch of traffic while you’re behind the wheel. It’s frustrating you can’t get to your destination when you want. As soon as the road opens and you see the accident causing the congestion. It gets your complete attention for a few seconds before moving on with your life. That’s the scenario that’ll play out in Week 7, as Tua Tagovailoa has cleared concussion protocol, ESPN reports.
After suffering a confirmed concussion two weeks ago and a suspicious “back injury” just a few days before that, Tagovailoa hasn’t played since. And he won’t play this weekend against the Vikings. But in seven days, he’ll be good to go against Pittsburgh. The Russian roulette will leave Moscow and plant itself in whatever venue Miami plays. A third concussion for Tua in less than a month could be career-ending. Chris Nowinski, the co-founder, and CEO of the Concussion Legacy Foundation, told Deadspin the day after Tagovailoa suffered his second head injury that he shouldn’t play again this season.
Based on the timing of this announcement, Tagovailoa won’t only play, but will start against the Steelers. And it’s 11 more chances, at least, this season for Tua to suffer another concussion. I know all players assume health risks by suiting up in the NFL. Quarterbacks are always at the forefront. Except for truly rare circumstances, Tagovailoa will touch the ball on every Dolphins’ offensive possession.
Yet, per ESPN, Tagovailoa cleared standards well beyond the NFL’s concussion protocol, receiving four outside opinions that unanimously cleared him for action by stating there was no long-term damage to the brain. Miami resorted to using their third-string quarterback in Tagovailoa’s absence, as backup Teddy Bridgewater also entered concussion protocols in recent weeks. Colts running back Nyheim Hines, who also suffered a concussion recently and displayed gross motor instability on last week’s edition of Thursday Night Football, won’t play in Week 6.
The roll of the dice with Tagovailoa’s health is heightened regardless of him being cleared or not. It’s basic science to know three concussions over a short span can lead to permanent damage. This isn’t just a football issue. I hope it doesn’t happen. Tagovailoa had an impressive start to the 2022 season and the league is better with him in it. Miami went 3-0 in games where he played a majority of the teams’ snaps behind center. I’ll just be grimacing every time a defensive end gets close to him. One more shot to the dome and the conversation shifts from whether we’ll see Tua again in 2022 to whether he should put on a helmet again at all.