A neuroscientist who specializes in concussions called for the Miami Dolphins’ medical staff and coaches to be fired after quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was hospitalized with a brutal head injury during a game against the Cincinnati Bengals Thursday night.
Tagovailoa’s head hit the ground with such force during the second quarter that his hands and arms appeared to seize up. He had to be stretchered off the field. He was discharged from a hospital on Thursday night and returned to the team in South Florida wearing a neck brace, ESPN reported.
But Dr. Chris Nowinski, who also specializes in CTE, was enraged that the Dolphins had allowed Tagovailoa to play after he was injured during a game against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday; Tagovailoa said he had a hyperextended back but footage showed him struggling to stay upright after knocking his head on the turf.
just so that people understand the severity of these injuries and the callousness of the miami dolphins staff, I put the Tua injuries and the dates they occurred back to back pic.twitter.com/XpWJcMQbsx
— manny (@mannyfidel) September 30, 2022
Nowinski called the new injury a “disaster” and shared a message he’d posted before the game warning about the potential consequences if Tagovailoa was injured again.
“Fire the medical staffs and coaches. I predicted this and I hate that I am right. Two concussions in 5 days can kill someone. This can end careers. How are we so stupid in 2022,” he wrote.
He later added: “You guys should go to jail for letting him play 5 days after an obvious concussion you covered up. If he dies from second-impact syndrome, I'm pushing form [sic] murder charges.”
— Chris Nowinski, Ph.D. (@ChrisNowinski1) September 30, 2022
Speaking to the Daily Mail, the NFL’s chief medical officer Dr. Allen Sills insisted that the league “can and will be a leader in all of sport” when it comes to best practice around brain and spinal cord injuries.
“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,” Sills said. “And we have got better and I believe we’ll continue to get better.”
“We will get better through this incident as well,” Sills added, referring to Tagovailoa’s injury.
The NFL players’ association had already launched a review into whether the league’s concussion protocol was correctly followed after the Sunday incident. That investigation was still ongoing Friday, with potential penalties including fines and the loss of draft picks on the table.
After being defeated by the Bengals, Dolphins head coach Mick McDaniel said Tagovailoa had passed a series of checks conducted by independent specialists before being allowed to play so soon after the first injury. (Tagovailoa was still listed as “questionable” on a team injury list before Thursday’s game due to a “back/ankle” issue.)
“I don’t think an injury from last week made him fall a certain way this week,” McDaniel 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.”
Initial tests performed on Tagovailoa in the hospital on Thursday night showed “no structural damage,” according to ESPN, but he is still slated to undergo an MRI.