For the second time this season, the NFL and the NFL Players Association have investigated an injury involving Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. And for the second time, they have determined the former Alabama All-American was handled as designated by league rules.
But the unlike the first investigation, the second will not result in a change to those rules.
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Tagovailoa is in the NFL concussion protocol and will miss Sunday’s game against the New England Patriots. But he went all the way under center in the Dolphins’ 26-20 loss to the Green Bay Packers on Sunday. He wasn’t placed in the protocol until Monday, prompting the NFLPA to request an investigation into the handling of Tagovailoa’s injury.
On Saturday, the conclusion of that investigation was released:
“The NFL and NFLPA concluded their joint review of the application of the concussion protocol involving Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa in Sunday’s game against the Green Bay Packers. The joint review determined the protocol was not triggered. The protocol is initiated when a player receives an impact to the head and exhibits or reports signs or symptoms suggestive of a concussion. The review established that symptoms of a concussion were neither exhibited nor reported until the following day, at which time the team medical personnel appropriately evaluated and placed Mr. Tagovailoa in the concussion protocol.”
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On Sept. 25, Tagovailoa left the game against the Buffalo Bills with two minutes remaining in the first half after banging the back of his head on the ground on a hit that resulted in a roughing-the-passer penalty. When Tagovailoa wobbled getting up, he went to the locker room.
But Tagovailoa was cleared by a team physician and the unaffiliated neurotrauma consultant at halftime, returned for the second half and rallied Miami to a 21-19 victory. Tagovailoa said after the game he had been unsteady because he hurt his back on a quarterback sneak earlier in the first half.
The NFL Players Association requested an investigation into the handling of Tagovailoa’s injury almost before that game was over and also exercised its prerogative to fire the unaffiliated neurotrauma consultant who cleared Tagovailoa to return to play.
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While the investigation found that the rules had been followed in evaluating Tagovailoa on Sept. 25, it also resulted in a change to the concussion protocol.
The term ataxia was added to the mandatory no-go symptoms, with ataxia defined as “abnormality of balance/stability, motor coordination or dysfunctional speech caused by a neurological issue.” A player diagnosed with ataxia by any club or neutral physician in the application of the concussion protocol will not be able to return to the game.
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Mark Inabinett is a sports reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter at @AMarkG1.
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