HONOLULU (KHON2) — Changes are coming to how the NFL handles concussions on the field.
The NFL released the results of its investigation into Tua Tagovailoa’s controversial injury two weeks ago and subsequent concussion last week.
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Much of the controversy comes from how medical professionals, including the league’s Unaffiliated Neurotrauma Consultant, handled Tagovailoa’s injury against the Bills on Sept. 25.
“I thought it was almost criminal in terms of him coming back in the second half because I was convinced that there was some type of neurological impact,” said 10-year NFL veteran Rich Miano.
In a statement on Saturday, the NFL and NFL Players Association said:
“The Club medical team and the UNC properly viewed the video of the play in question as required by the protocol and engaged in a locker room examination of Mr. Tagovailoa before the player was cleared to return to play. The Team physician cleared Mr. Tagovailoa, following consultation with the UNC.”
The league and NFLPA say that Tagovailoa told staff that he hurt his back injury on the play, and that’s why he stumbled.
“Mr. Tagovailoa did not report or exhibit any signs or symptoms of concussion during his locker room exam, during the remainder of the game, or throughout the following week,” the statement continued.
Tagovailoa suffered a dramatic head injury while playing on short rest last Thursday night at Cincinnati and had to be carted off the field.
The statement says moving forward, players will not be allowed to play if they’ve been diagnosed with ataxia, which is described as an abnormality of balance, coordination, or dysfunctional speech caused by a neurological issue.
Miano said the clear guidelines will help protect players from themselves.
“It’s a much clearer line and the fact that they didn’t have this line in the past, I think it’s an omission on the NFL’s part,” he said.
Tagovailoa remains out for this weekend’s game against the Jets and has no timetable for a return.
“If there’s any doubt in terms of if he’s ready, you got to err on the side of caution,” Miano said. “You’re talking about a young man who could potentially have a 15- to a 20-year career at the quarterback position and make hundreds of millions of dollars. But I think more importantly, you’re also talking about somebody that if he continues to get concussed, that trauma to his brain could be one where all the money in the world and all the accolades in the world would not be worth him having early stages of dementia, Alzheimer’s or any other neurological disease.”
The UNC involved was fired by the NFLPA last week.