East Rutherford, NJ – Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa did not travel with his team for Sunday’s game as he recovered from a concussion that rocked the NFL system.
With his recovery, the league and the players union Review how players’ brain injuries are assessed, a change in health protocols after he was taken off the field to receive treatment for a head injury during a game on September 29. This was the second match in five days in which interference caused Tagoviloa to hit his head on the ground.
In the Dolphins’ first offensive play on Sunday, Tagovailoa’s reserve Teddy Bridgewater hit his head in a similar fashion and was removed from the game, according to new concussion protocol.
Corner jets hit Ahmed Gardner’s Bridgewater, and Bridgewater’s helmet side hit the field at the end zone. He was knocked out with head and elbow injuries, forcing third-series quarterback Skylar Thompson, the rookie, to end a game that Gates won, 40-17.
The Dolphins (3-2) entered the game with the Jets (3-2) under heavy scrutiny for their handling of the Tagovailoa concussion, and Bridgewater’s injury will test implementation of the NFL’s new concussion protocols, agreed by the league and the players’ union. to Saturday.
The revised protocol, which went into effect on Sunday, bans a player from returning to play if he exhibits ataxia, a term describing poor balance or coordination caused by brain or nerve damage. Under the previous protocol, a player with “severe instability of movement” – difficulty getting up or walking, for example – could return to play if doctors determined that there was an orthotic reason for his unsteadiness.
According to a team spokesperson, Bridgewater passed concussion tests in the locker room, but was disqualified because a head injury monitor saw Bridgewater stumble after the play and attributed it to a stuttering. Dolphins’ first-year coach Mike McDaniel said at a news conference that Bridgewater had not shown concussion-like symptoms, and that he “believed” the quarterback could travel home with the team.
Dolphins receiver Terek Hill declined to speculate after the match whether Bridgewater should be removed.
“Obviously I want Teddy outside, but if someone sees something, I want to be careful,” said Hill, who grabbed his seven goals for 47 yards. “It’s their job to watch things like that.”
Protocols changed due to a joint review initiated by the NFL Players Association after Tagoviloa’s header hit the field after a September 25 showdown against the Buffalo Bills. He slowly rose to his feet, shook his head and then stumbled after taking a few steps. He was evaluated in the locker room for a concussion but had no symptoms, and Tagovailoa was cleared of returning after doctors concluded he had a worsening back injury.
Four days later, against the Cincinnati Bengals, Tagovailoa’s header bounced back onto the field after an interference, leaving him lying on the ground for about 10 minutes. He was hospitalized briefly that night, but was diagnosed with a concussion. He must complete the five-step recovery process before returning to play.
The League and Players’ Association said on Saturday that an investigation had found that protocols had been followed in relation to Tagovailoa’s injury against the Bills. But both parties agreed to add an extra layer of caution before allowing players with potential concussions to return to games.
“You could write that they are abandoning the protocol and improving the protocol,” but we’re really building on better, more nuanced language, like ‘ataxia’ without exception, as a way to protect the player,” Dr. Tom Mayer, the union’s medical director, said Friday in an interview.
McDaniel said he agreed with the new protocols and the findings of the investigation.
“I’m glad there are some policies that medical experts collectively consider safer for players,” McDaniel said. “In terms of determination to follow things appropriately, it didn’t surprise me. That’s what I’ve been saying from the start.”
In the past two weeks, the rhetoric — and the consequences — around head injuries has skyrocketed. The union dismissed the unaffiliated neurologist who had evaluated Tagovailoa in a Bills match. Tony Dungy was the former coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Indianapolis Colts critical From the league after a tight end for the Buccaneers, Cameron Pratt was allowed to return against Kansas City on October 2 after hitting his head on his teammate’s torso.
Without Tagovailoa or Bridgewater, the Dolphins managed to compete early, trailing 19-17, with just over six minutes remaining in the third quarter. But the Jets ran away in the fourth inning, scoring a quick one-yard touchdown by Michael Carter to finish 56 yards with about nine minutes left in the game, then scoring again quickly after Thompson flopped during the next drive at Miami’s 17-yard line. Flying defensive tackle Quinnen Williams sent confusion back to the 5-yard line.
Replacing Bridgewater, Thompson threw for 166 yards and intercepted him, and had trouble pushing the ball down. Instead, the Dolphins relied on 113-yard acceleration on 18 carriages from Raheem Mostert and reversed, tossed, or delivered to receivers.
Thompson said the game was a good first experience of live playtime, but he didn’t like the circumstances.
“To see Tua go the way he did and see Teddy go the way he did, it’s not something you would ever wish for anyone,” Thompson said. “You hate seeing it because it hurts. I care about these guys and I want to see them do a good job.”
Jets quarterback Zach Wilson threw for 210 yards in 14-for-21 passes and scored no points while running back Brick Hole and Carter together for 118 yards and three touchdowns.
Tagovailoa’s concussion quelled the excitement around the team after unexpected off-season signings and a 3-0 start to the team. Assisted by Hill and left tackle Terron Armstead—the regular Pro Bowl players the Dolphins added in March—and second-year receiver Jalenn Waddell, Tagovailoa finished second in the NFL in passing yards (925) and tied for third in touchdowns (eight) through Week 3. The team has now lost two games in a row.
Bridgewater’s head injury adds new scrutiny to an organization embroiled in scandals. Brian Flores, who was fired as a coach in January, alleges in a lawsuit against the NFL that he was discriminated against while seeking a new head coaching job and that Dolphins owner Stephen M. Ross pressured him into deliberately losing matches to place a team for a draft pick higher. The NFL in August concluded an investigation and said it had found no evidence of “tanks”.
But the NFL fined Ross $1.5 million and Miami must lose two future drafts for violating the league’s tampering policy after trying to lure quarterback Tom Brady and former New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton to the Dolphins while on contract with other teams.
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