EXC – NFL's chief medical officer: League will 'learn' from Tua injury

EXCLUSIVE: ‘We’ll get better’ – NFL’s chief medical officer tells DailyMail.com the league will ‘learn’ from Tua Tagovailova’s sickening head injury, as critics say Dolphins staff should face JAIL TIME for letting him play days after first collision

  • Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailova suffered a sickening head injury Thursday
  • Scary incident came just days after another worrying collision saw him stumble
  • NFL chief medical officer says league will ‘learn’ and ‘get better’ after incident
  • Critics have blasted the decision to allow QB to play in Thursday night’s game
  • Click here for all your latest international Sports news from DailyMail.com 

The NFL has vowed to learn from the concussion controversy surrounding Tua Tagovailoa after the Miami Dolphins quarterback suffered a sickening head injury just days on from another worrying collision that left him stumbling down the field.

One prominent campaigner called for job losses and even jail time for Dolphins staff after Tagovailoa was hospitalized following the incident in Thursday’s defeat by the Cincinnati Bengals.

The quarterback was hurled to the turf in the first half and remained down for more than seven minutes.

On Sunday, against the Buffalo Bills, the 24-year-old was seen shaking his head and stumbling to the floor, before returning to play shortly after. The quarterback was officially diagnosed with a back problem but a review is ongoing to determine whether the league’s concussion protocol was properly followed.

Tua Tagovailova suffered a head injury when Josh Tupou of the Bengals tackled him Thursday

Tagovailoa’s hands appeared to go into the Fencing response on landing, which is an unnatural position of the arms after a concussion

Tagovailoa’s treatment has put the NFL’s head injury prevention measures back under the spotlight and on Friday, the league’s chief medical officer Dr Allen Sills addressed the incident for the first time.

‘Obviously we’re always concerned when any of our players suffers an injury – of any type – and it’s our goal to prevent as many injuries as possible and certainly to quickly diagnose any injuries that occur and treat them appropriately,’ he told DailyMail.com.

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‘I’m a neurosurgeon and I have spent my entire career treating people with brain and spinal cord injuries – both athletes and non-athletes – and it’s been my passion and practice and my livelihood for many decades. So I’m entirely devoted to this issue and the idea that NFL can and will be a leader in all of sport in this area. 

‘We have made a number of changes to our concussion protocol… we take a very detailed and involved look at ourselves, our outcomes, our procedures every single year in the idea of getting better. And we have got better and I believe we’ll continue to get better. 

‘We will get better through this incident as well. That’s the nature of medicine. As a physician, I certainly don’t do things identical today to what I did five or 10 years ago. That quest to improve will continue.’

The NFL’s chief medical officer has insisted the league will ‘learn’ from the Tua situation

Just four days earlier, Tagovailoa staggered around after a hit, appearing to be concussed

Tagovailoa was taken off on a stretcher after a second concerning blow in just four days  – coach Mike McDaniel (right) said he spoke to his QB as he was taken off the field

The review – by the NFL and players’ association – will continue on Friday, with ‘very specific and very substantial penalties’ available. They range from fines to loss of draft picks.

After defeat by the Bengals, Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel defended the decision to play Tagovailoa, insisting the quarterback had passed a number of checks by independent specialists.

‘I don’t think an injury from last week made him fall a certain way this week,’ he said. ‘I have absolutely zero patience for, or ever would I, put a player in harm’s way. That’s not what I’m about at all.’

But Chris Nowinski, CEO of the Concussion Legacy Foundation, said Dolphins staff ‘should go to jail for letting him play five days after an obvious concussion you covered up’, adding on Twitter: ‘Fire the medical staffs and coaches… two concussions in five days can kill someone. This can end careers. How are we so stupid in 2022.’

Tagovailoa travelled back with his team-mates on Thursday and the authorities hope to speak to him ‘once he recovers.’

Tupou (center) watches on as Tagovailoa receives medical attention after their collision

The 24-year-old needed extensive treatment on the field in what were concerning scenes

‘Thankfully I can report that the player is doing very well. He was evaluated at a local hospital, was discharged and was able to travel back home,’ Sills said.

‘We’ll be speaking with everyone who was involved last Sunday in the evaluation and decision-making around that game. That’ll include the team physician, the team athletic trainer, the independent doctors on the field, in the booth and our spotters and hopefully the player himself once he recovers.’

Sills added: ‘Equally important is the opportunity for education – we can learn from any instances where the protocol was either not followed or the protocol did not account for some situation and improve it. 

‘That’s what you’ve seen us do in the past… there’s always the opportunity – not just for discipline or accountability, which is important – but to look at the protocol itself and say: can the protocol be improved as a result of what we’ve learned?’

Before Thursday’s game, concussion expert Chris Nowinski urged the Dolphins to keep Tagovailova off the field – but he went on to start against the Bengals

A few hours later, Nowinski claimed Dolphins medical staff should be facing jail time

One problem is that the review could not be completed in time to prevent Thursday’s incident.

‘These reviews do take time – you’ve got a lot of video review, interviews with individuals, the gathering of all data and materials so we do them as quickly as we can but it’s not something that can happen overnight,’ Sills added. ‘As with any process you want to be thorough, consistent and fair to everyone involved so we’re doing this as expeditiously as we can… I know for example that this medical staff has continued to evaluate the player every day since the game last Sunday.’

He added: ‘We’re now very committed to reducing the amount of head contact that occurs in football overall. Obviously we want to prevent, diagnose and treat concussions but we want to go beyond that… Our commitment is firm, our track record in this area will continue to reveal that we’re firmly committed to progress in this area… and being a world leader.’

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