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Former surgeon general: Tua Tagovailoa likely suffered ‘severe concussion’

Medical staff tend to quarterback Tua Tagovailoa #1 of the Miami Dolphins after an injury during the 2nd quarter of the game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paycor Stadium on September 29, 2022 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

UPDATE: It was announced Friday, Tua Tagovailoa will be out for a significant amount of time due to his injury. There is no time table of his return as of yet.

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa likely suffered a “severe concussion,” according to WISH-TV medical expert and former U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Jerome Adams.

Tagovailoa suffered what the team describes as a concussion during Thursday night’s game versus the Cincinnati Bengals.

Tagovailoa was thrown to the turf in the second quarter.

While on the ground, his hands froze in front of his face.  He was taken off the field on a stretcher and transported to a local hospital.

“It’s pretty clear last night he had a severe concussion,” Dr. Adams wrote on Twitter. “In hindsight, he likely also suffered a much milder concussion on Sunday. However medicine is imperfect, and he definitely could have passed all exams to play.”

Tagovailoa wobbled and fell to the ground in last Sunday’s game against Buffalo, but was cleared by doctors to return to play.  The team later described him as having a back injury.

“There is an independent examiner on the sideline, along with the team physician, and both must clear a player to return. I honestly don’t believe there were shenanigans on Sunday- — I think Tua just was one of the people who was a ‘false negative’ on the test protocols,” Dr. Adams tweeted.  “Head injuries can manifest as/feel like neck and back injuries, so it’s plausible Tua was complaining mostly of that on Sunday, and passed all the (again imperfect) sideline neurological testing. To me, Tua failed the ‘eye test’ on Sunday, but that’s a judgment call.”  

“Final important point – biggest risk factor for a concussion, is a prior concussion – even a mild one.  That’s why it’s so critical to diagnose properly and err on the side of caution. But still doesn’t mean anyone violated current protocols. It likely means the “system” failed’” Dr. Adams concluded.

Tagovailoa was released from a Cincinnati hospital and flew home with the team to Miami. 

The NFL Players Association says it is investigating the circumstances that allowed Tagovailoa to return against Buffalo and start against Cincinnati.

“Player health and safety is at the core of the union’s mission,” the NFLPA wrote on Twitter. “Our concern tonight is for Tua and we hope for a full and speedy recovery. Our investigation into the potential protocol violation is ongoing.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.