NFL, NFLPA 'anticipate changes' to league's concussion protocol

NFL, NFLPA 'anticipate changes' to league's concussion protocol originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

Modifications soon could be made to the NFL's concussion protocols.

The NFL and NFLPA released a joint statement Saturday saying they "anticipate changes" to protocol amid an ongoing investigation into Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa being cleared to return to last Sunday's game despite displaying gross motor instability.

"The NFL and the NFLPA agree that modifications to the Concussion Protocol are needed to enhance player safety," the statement read. "The NFLPA's Mackey-White Health & Safety Committee and the NFL's Head Neck and Spine Committee have already begun conversations around the use of the term 'Gross Motor Instability' and we anticipate changes to the protocol being made in the coming days based on what has been learned thus far in the review process."

ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that the new protocols could go into effect as early as Week 5, with any player who displays instability not permitted to return to the game.

The announcement comes in the wake of the NFLPA terminating the unaffiliated neurotrauma consultant involved in the decision to clear Tagovailoa to return.

Tagovailoa wobbled to the turf after taking a hit to the head in the second quarter of the Dolphins' Week 3 game against the Buffalo Bills. He was evaluated in the locker room and deemed to have passed concussion protocols, which cleared him to return in the second half.

Tagovailoa then started Thursday against the Cincinnati Bengals. He sustained another hit and was taken off the field on a stretcher with head and neck injuries. After being evaluated at a Cincinnati hospital, Tagovailoa flew back to Miami with the team and has since been placed in the league's concussion protocol.

"The NFL and NFLPA share a strong appreciation for the unaffiliated neurotrauma consultants who contribute their time and expertise to our game solely to advance player safety," the statement read. "This program has made our game safer for the athletes who play it for the past twelve seasons."