Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa said Wednesday that he cannot remember being carted off the field after falling unconscious with a concussion that has sidelined the NFL star for two games.
Tagovailoa suffered the frightening head injury, his second in five days, on September 29 at Cincinnati and spoke about it for the first time, saying there is much he simply cannot recall.
“I wouldn’t say it was scary for me at the time because there was a point where I was unconscious,” Tagovailoa said. “I couldn’t really tell what was going on.
“So when I did come to and kind of realize what was going on, what was happening, I didn’t think of anything long-term or short-term. I was just wondering what happened.”
Tagovailoa’s memory remains clear about other events, but is blank for the moments when he was slammed to the turf by Bengals defender Josh Tupou and lay prone on the field receiving medical treatment before being taken off on a stretcher.
“I remember the entire night up to the point where I got tackled, but yeah, after I got tackled, I don’t remember much from there,” he said.
“Getting carted off, I don’t remember that. But I do remember things that were going on in the ambulance and then when I arrived at the hospital.”
Tagovailoa, whose situation prompted the NFL to toughen its concussion protocols, cleared league concussion safety precaution rules last Saturday but was kept out of Miami’s game after having had no practice time with the club last week.
This week, Tagovailoa is back on the field and preparing to start on Sunday when the Dolphins (3-3) face the visiting Pittsburgh Steelers (2-4).
“I’m just really excited that I can prepare and play this Sunday,” Tagovailoa said.
Teddy Bridgewater, who suffered a concussion of his own after one play as Tagovailoa’s replacement, and rookie Skylar Thompson filled in for Tagovailoa but Miami went 0-2 and lost by a combined total of 64-33.
“As a competitor, I want to be out there with the guys,” Tagovailoa said. “I want to be able to go out there and help our guys win games. That’s a terrible feeling that I could only watch from the sidelines.”
Tagovailoa’s head had been slammed to the ground five days before the Cincinnati game, but Tagovailoa was allowed to return to that earlier contest against Buffalo with what was then diagnosed as a neck injury.
A loophole allowed his return since a doctor and consultant could not conclude his staggering on the field was due to a neurological issue.
Tagovailoa passed concussion tests between the games but after his return and then his concussion so soon after, the NFL altered the wording in its protocol so that even a possibility of a neurological issue would be grounds for removal from a game.
Bridgewater became the first player removed from a game under the new policy. Last week, more than a dozen players were removed from NFL contests with concussions.
Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel said that he has stressed to his star passer that throwing the ball away without risking a hit might be the best play.
“You love his competitive nature, but there’s a time in a play where you have to kind of concede,” said McDaniel. “He wants to break every tackle, and he doesn’t like when plays don’t work. Well, sometimes they won’t.
“So that’s something that he’s mindful of… you just need to be able to understand your importance to the team and how sometimes the best play you can make is a throwaway.”
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