The recent situation involving the Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and his head injury has had many in the NFL space speaking their mind about the NFL’s concussion protocols.
Los Angeles Rams Head coach Sean McVay just had to put one of his players, guard David Edwards, through concussion protocol despite being a starter and his team still has yet to play on Monday against the San Francisco 49ers.
Tagovailoa’s situation has been more complicated. While the Dolphins have already ruled him out against the New York Jets in Week 5, the NFL has to get involved to see if the team properly followed concussion protocol during their Week 3 win over the Buffalo Bills.
Tagovailoa took a big hit and came up wobbling to the point where his teammates had to help him out near the end of the first half. But when the second half began, Tagovailoa was available to play, and the Dolphins claimed 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 be carried out of the stadium and to the hospital. He’s been in concussion protocol since, and the NFLPA exercised its right to fire the independent neurologist that cleared Tagovailoa to return for that Week 3 contest.
McVay was asked on Monday what he thought about what was going on with Tagovailoa, and he went deep with his answer.
“I think the biggest 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 so many of us, and when you’re in the midst and in the moment of it, you think that this is just going to be forever, but you realize this is a small blip in time. There’s so many things to life with family, with friends, with the people that love and support you and care about you unconditionally, and I think it’s our job as coaches and really in general to look out for the person, one, the player next. And these are things that [I] certainly don’t take lightly.
“I know that I’m not the expert in that arena, but I also defer to those guys, and I think being able to have relationships where you’re able to kind of understand where they’re coming from, and then you can almost take the decision out of their hands because these guys are such competitors, and there’s an element of, ‘I don’t want to let people down.’ And you got to be able to help them to realize you’re not letting anybody down. This is a small blip, we’re going to be smart with this. This game has brought so many blessings, but you have to be able to Draw the line in terms of, ‘Alright, what’s really the most important thing in the big picture?’ And certainly safety always is that at a premium for us.”
A long, thought-out answer from McVay gives some insight into what coaches think about when it comes to their players on a daily basis. They know the risks they run putting on pads and a helmet each week, and recognizing that the game isn’t as important as their livelihoods at the end of the day is what McVay and his staff feel responsible on which to make executive decisions.
Edwards’ designation into concussion protocol and following the league’s guidance is what McVay intends to keep doing.
“Whether that happened or not would have zero to do with our approach with David Edwards,” McVay said when asked if Tagovailoa’s injury caused any “heightened awareness.” “But I know there’s been a lot of, I don’t want to say speculation, but a lot of questions in that situation and particularly brought light to a lot of questions. And so, I feel really good about the processes and the procedures. that have been in place since I’ve been here and in this role as it relates to the communication with the medical group. I know the NFL’s doing everything in their power to do the right thing by the players, and I fully believe that. “