The recent situation involving Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and his head injury has caused many in the NFL space to weigh in on the NFL’s concussion protocols.
Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay only had to put one of his players, guard David Edwards, through the concussion protocol despite being a starter and his team had yet to play Monday against the Los Angeles Rams. San Francisco 49ers.
Tagovailoa’s situation has been more complicated. While the Dolphins already ruled him out against the New York Jets in Week 5, the NFL needs to get involved to see if the team correctly followed concussion protocol during their Week 3 win over the Buffalo Bills.
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Tagovailoa took a big hit and stumbled to the point where his teammates had to help him out near the end of the first half. But when the second half started, Tagovailoa was available to play and the Dolphins said he was dealing with a back injury.
But in Week 4 on Thursday night against the Cincinnati Bengals, Tagovailoa was tackled hard and hit his head on the turf again, this time needing a stretcher to get him out of the stadium and to the hospital. He has been in concussion protocol ever since, and the NFLPA exercised its right to fire the independent neurologist who cleared Tagovailoa to return for that Week 3 contest.
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McVay was asked Monday what he thought about what was going on with Tagovailoa, and he elaborated on his response.
“I think the most important thing is that it’s about the person before the player,” he began. “And some of these things, when you realize this game is so important to a lot of us, and when you’re in the middle and in the moment, you think this is going to be forever, but you realize this is a little bump in time. There are so many things in life with family, with friends, with people who love you and support you and care about you unconditionally, and I think it’s our job as coaches and really in general to take care of the person, one, the next player. And these are things that [I] certainly do not take it lightly.
“I know I’m not the expert in that field, but I also get carried away by those guys, and I think being able to have relationships where you can understand where they’re coming from, and then you can almost take the decision out of their hands because these guys are very competitive, and there’s an element of ‘I don’t want to let people down.’ And you have to be able to help them realize that you’re not letting anybody down. This is a bit of an issue, let’s be smart about this. This game has brought so many blessings, but you have to be able to draw the line in terms of, ‘Okay, what’s really the most important thing in the big picture?’ And certainly safety is always the most important thing for us.”
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A long and thoughtful response from McVay gives an insight into what coaches think when it comes to their players on a daily basis. They know the risks they take by putting on protectors and a helmet every week, and recognizing that the game is not as important as their livelihood at the end of the day is what McVay and his staff feel responsible for making executive decisions.
Edwards’ designation in the concussion protocol and following the league’s guidance is what McVay intends to continue doing.
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“Whether that happened or not has nothing to do with our approach to David Edwards,” McVay said when asked if Tagovailoa’s injury caused any “heightened awareness.” “But I know there have been a lot of, I don’t want to say speculation, but a lot of questions in that situation and they particularly clarified a lot of questions. So, I feel very good about the processes and procedures that have been in place since I’ve been here and in this position. When it comes to communicating with the medical group, I know the NFL is doing everything in its power to do what’s right for the players, and I fully believe that.”