Tua Tagovailoa, predictably, was talking to Mike McDaniel on Friday about not wanting to miss “X, Y, or Z game,” according to the Miami Dolphins coach. When in reality, the conversation needed to be dramatically shifted far away from that.
“Tua, let’s stop this right now,” McDaniel said he told the team’s starting quarterback. “Don’t even think about a game. Let’s just think about doing everything the right way, to listen, to get opinions you need, and think about you and your head and being a healthy human being.”
That comes one day after Tagovailoa left Thursday night’s loss to the Cincinnati Bengals with a concussion. That is five days after he was taken out of the Buffalo Bills game on Sunday because of an apparent head injury.
How is Tua Tagovailoa Now?
Tagovailoa is in the NFL concussion protocol, according to the Dolphins. He had a C-T Scan and X-Ray when he was transported to a Cincinnati are hospital once he was knocked from the game.
He had an MRI Friday, the results of which are not yet known.
“He was honest about the fact he had a headache but his personality was definitely normal Tua,” McDaniel said. “And talking to him this morning, I think he’s still feeling some of those headaches and he’s probably just finishing his MRI right now and we’ll find the result from that. That was an extra precaution on top of C-T Scans and X-Rays that were taken last night.”
The Dolphins next game is at the New York Jets Oct. 9. McDaniel is setting no timetable for the player’s return or possibility of moving him to the injured reserve list at the moment.
“It’s all about Tua the person,” McDaniel said. “This is someone I’ve grown very close to and head injuries and concussions and things that severe, the only thing I worry about is the person first. Just worrying about him getting healthy, getting all the testing done that he needs to get done and us working with him to feel comfortable of where the injury’s at and then we’ll cross the bridge of where the timetable of however long. Haven’t even thought about that at this point.”
NFL Investigation Will Be Made Public
The NFL and NFL Players Association are investigating the issue that played out so vividly on Sunday and then nationally Thursday. That investigation will be made public, a source told OutKick. McDaniel stands firm neither he nor the Dolphins would have done anything different than what they did the past week.
“The whole process of what happened on the Bills game is he was evaluated for a head injury immediately,” he said. “That’s what we brought him under the tent for, we brought him inside for. He was evaluated and then cleared by several layers of medical professionals who, I don’t pretend to be one, but those people, the collection of them, cleared him of any head injury whatsoever.
“In terms of deciding whether or not to play on a game, on a Thursday night game, I’m concerned about his lower back and his ankle and putting him in harms way. I have 100 percent conviction in our process regarding our players. This is a player-friendly organization and I make it very clear from the onset, I’m here for the players. I take that very serious and no one else in the building strays from that.”
McDaniel said there were “absolutely no signs, no medical indication from all resources that there’s anything regarding the head” prior to Thursday night.
“If there would have been, of course, I wouldn’t have been able to live with myself if I prematurely put someone out there and put him in harm’s way,” the coach said. “This is a relationship I have with this human being. I wouldn’t have put him out there if there was any indication given to me that he was endangering himself from that previous game.”
So was there any consideration to Tagovailoa’s previous head-related issue having repercussions in Thursday’s game?
“I totally understand the concern and appreciate the concern,” McDaniel said. “… He did not have a head injury. Guys hit their heads all the time. That’s why I was adamant about he was evaluated for having a head injury and he did not have one. And when I tell you he was in complete mental concert talking to us, then he played the whole game, then he did a press conference and media the whole week.
“If I were to sit someone for a medical issue going against medical people abstractly, when do I play him again?”
Optics Do Not Favor Dolphins
It nonetheless looks bad and McDaniel understands that.
“The timing of all of it, how things played out, I get the optics, I get exactly what it looks like,” he said. “I understand all this and understand people’s concern. But the one thing I can exude with 100 percent conviction is every person in this building had 100 percent the correct process, diligence, that’s why there’s not a player or person that you’d be able to talk to that thinks otherwise.”
Tagovailoa and McDaniel have built something of a close relationship. They sat next to each other during the flight home from Cincinnati and watched MacGruber on the player’s phone for a little bit as they laughed.
The investigation won’t care about that relationship and will definitely look at McDaniel’s decision to play Tagovailoa four days after he hit his head.
“I don’t think I’ll ever be comfortable, I’ll never get used to, it’ll never feel normal for me personally and the type of person I am with a player getting carted off the field — ever,” McDaniel said. “It’s something you never want to be a part of and when I put myself there, this is what happens.”
What was happening was McDaniel was holding back emotions and straining to speak.
“I’m just glad that I can hear normal Tua in his voice,” McDaniel added.
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