NFL

NFLPA terminates unaffiliated neurotrauma consultant involved in Tua Tagovailoa’s concussion evaluation

NFL: Miami Dolphins at Cincinnati Bengals
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The NFLPA has exercised its option to terminate the unaffiliated neurotrauma consultant involved in the handling of Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa’s concussion review during last Sunday’s game against the Buffalo Bills, CBS Sports NFL Insider Jonathan Jones reports. The NFLPA made the decision after discovering “several mistakes” made by the doctor in its view, according to Jones. 

Tagovailoa initially appeared to suffer a blow to the head last Sunday. He attempted to get up and run to the huddle but stumbled and fell to the ground. The Dolphins announced that he was questionable to return to the game due to a head injury as Tagovailoa was undergoing a concussion evaluation; however, the NFL’s independent specialist in consultation with the team doctor deemed Tagovailoa was not suffering from a head injury but rather one to his back that caused instability. Tua later returned to the game, leading Miami to a 21-19 win over Buffalo.

Per the league’s Concussion Diagnosis and Management Protocol:

“UNCs are appointed by the NFL Head, Neck and Spine Committee in consultation with the NFLPA Mackey-White Committee and approved by the NFL Chief Medical Officer and the NFLPA Medical Director, and have undergone formal UNC training provided by the NFL and NFLPA. 

“For the avoidance of doubt, the responsibility for the diagnosis of concussion and the decision to return a player to a game remain exclusively within the professional judgment of the Head Team Physician or the Club physician designated as responsible for the diagnosis and management of concussion.”

The NFLPA initiated a review of the matter early this week. On Thursday, Tagovailoa was cleared to play against the Cincinnati Bengals after he tested negative for concussion symptoms every day leading into the game. He started for the Dolphins under center but sustained a head injury during the contest after he was slammed to the ground on a sack. 

Immediately, Tagovailoa’s fingers flexed into a “fencing position” — an involuntary response to head trauma. He remained on the ground for several minutes and was eventually carted off the field and taken to a local hospital to be evaluated for further injuries. Tagovailoa was discharged that same night and traveled with the team on its flight back to Miami after having been diagnosed with a concussion but no further injuries

The Dolphins’ decision to allow Tagovailoa to play on Thursday came under swift criticism, as did the NFL’s concussion protocol itself. The NFLPA stated earlier this week that it intended to pursue every legal option available in the handling of this case. The NFL plans to be transparent with any findings that come from the review, Jones reports. Because Tagovailoa is in the concussion protocol, he had not yet been interviewed in the probe as of Friday. 



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