Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was stretchered off the field during Thursday’s clash with the Cincinnati Bengals, sparking new concussion fears just days after he had been evaluated for a head injury.
Tagovailoa left the field after being sacked heavily in the second quarter, his head appearing to slam into the turf after a tackle from the Bengals’ Josh Tupou.
Replays of the incident showed Tagovailoa’s fingers contorted into an unnatural position, a condition known as a “fencing response” often caused by a head injury.
Tagovailoa was kept on the field for around 10 minutes before being taken away on a stretcher as the Dolphins staff gathered around midfield.
He was subsequently taken to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center for evaluation for head and neck injuries.
The Dolphins later said in a brief statement on Twitter that Tagovailoa was “conscious and has movement in all his extremities.”
But the scary incident once again drew attention to the NFL’s chequered record of dealing with concussion and head injuries.
On Sunday, Tagovailoa had left the field during the Dolphins’ victory over the Buffalo Bills in Florida after suffering a heavy hit in the first quarter.
Tagovailoa appeared to be dazed and unsteady on his feet following that incident and was subsequently evaluated for concussion.
He was allowed to return to the game however after what Dolphins coaching staff later said was a lower back injury.
“His legs got wobbly because his lower back was completely loose as he described it,” Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel said after the game.
The verdict on Tagovailoa’s injury on Sunday was greeted with scepticism by many commentators, however, while the NFL Players Association said it was initiating an investigation into the incident.
After Tagovailoa’s latest injury on Thursday, safety campaigners condemned the decision to allow the quarterback to play so soon after Sunday’s injury.
Chris Nowinski, the chief executive of the Concussion Legacy Foundation, a non-profit which works to provide support to athletes, veterans and others affected by concussions, had warned against Tagovailoa playing.
“If Tua takes the field tonight, it’s a massive step back for #concussion care in the NFL,” Nowinski wrote on Twitter before the game.
“If he has a 2nd concussion that destroys his season or career, everyone involved will be sued & should lose their jobs, coaches included.”
Following Tagovailoa’s injury against the Bengals, Nowinski tweeted: “I predicted this and I hate that I am right. Two concussions in five days can kill someone.
“This can end careers. How are we so stupid in 2022?”
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