Tua Tagovailoa at centre of NFL investigation after 'awful' scenes

Tua Tagovailoa, pictured here leaving the field before later returning for the Miami Dolphins.

The NFL Players Association is reportedly launching an investigation into the Miami Dolphins’ decision to allow quarterback Tua Tagovailoa to play through a head injury during Monday morning’s (AEST) clash with the Buffalo Bills.

Tagovailoa was hit to the ground by the Bills’ Matt Milano after throwing an eight-yard completion to Jaylen Waddle late in the first half.

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The Dolphins playmaker appeared to slam his head on the ground after the hit, and was slow to get back to his feet, before stumbling awkwardly as he tried to make his way back to the huddle.

The ‘awful’ scene drew plenty of concern for the quarterback’s welfare from observers.

Tagovailoa was taken to the Miami locker room for assessment with the team announcing at half-time that he was questionable to return with a ‘head injury’.

However, to the surprise of many, the 24-year-old returned to action after the interval, with the Dolphins indicating he had cleared concussion protocol, but had tweaked his back on the play, causing his unsteadiness afterwards.

The explanation for Tagovailoa’s speedy recovery lead to much skepticism from NFL pundits on Twitter.

Despite being in the wars, Tagovailoa showed little signs of any head or back injury, leading another Dolphins fourth quarter comeback to secure a 21-19 victory over the Bills.

Speaking after the contest, Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel told reporters that Tagovailoa picked up the lower-back injury earlier in the first half, but it was made worse by the hit from Milano.

“He kind of got bent back pretty severe on a quarterback sneak earlier,” McDaniel said.

“When he hit his head on the ground, I assumed it was a head injury, but his legs got wobbly because his lower back was completely loose as he described it.”

Tagovailoa explained to reporters that he stumbled after the Milano hit because his back ‘locked up’.

“Kind of got my legs caught under someone, they were trying to push back and it felt like I hyper-extended my back or something,” Tagovailoa said.

“It kind of hurt. I got up, and that's kind of why I stumbled. My back kind of locked up on me. But for the most part, I'm good. Passed whatever concussion protocol they had.”

Mike McDaniel, pictured here speaking with quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.
Mike McDaniel speaks with quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. (Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images) (Megan Briggs via Getty Images)

NFLPA reportedly launches investigation

However, the NFLPA appears not to be convinced by the Dolphins’ version of events, according to NFL Network Insider Tom Pelissero.

“The NFLPA is initiating an investigation into the handling of Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa’s concussion check during their game against the Bills today in Miami, per source,” Pelissero tweeted.

“Under the 2020 CBA, the NFLPA, NFL Management Council or any player has the right (independently or collectively) to bring forward a complaint about an alleged failure to follow concussion protocol, to be investigated and resolved by the union and management council.”

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