Consultant who cleared Dolphins’ Tagovailoa to play after head shot

The professional football consultant who allowed Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa to play in the team’s Sept. 25 game has been fired, a source familiar with the matter said.

The consultant, who has not been named, gave his approval after Tagovailoa hit his head on the turf in Miami’s 21-19 home win over Buffalo. Afterwards, Tagovailoa tripped and fell to his knees.

Nonetheless, he was allowed back into the game in the third quarter and he played again in the Dolphins’ loss to the Bengals in Cincinnati on Thursday, a game in which Tagovailoa’s header hit the turf during a sack. defensive tackle Josh Tupou.

Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is examined during the Dolphins’ game against the Cincinnati Bengals in Cincinnati on Thursday.Jeff Dean/AP

Tagovailoa, 24, was taken off the pitch on a stretcher and is out indefinitely.

NBC Sports and its Pro Football Talk platform have first reported the dismissal of the unaffiliated neurotrauma consultant.

The consultants are hired jointly by the players’ union, the NFL Players Association and the league, as part of the professional football concussion protocol, which aims to prevent the type of traumatic brain injury that has plagued the sport for decades.

According to the NFL’s concussion protocols, a team’s unaffiliated neurotrauma consultant must be “an impartial physician independent of any club, certified in neurology, emergency medicine, physical medicine and rehabilitation, or any CAQ primary care”. [certificates of added qualification] board-certified sports medicine physician or board-certified neurosurgical physician, and has documented competence and experience in the treatment of acute traumatic brain injury. »

The consultant wasn’t the only official involved in clearing Tagovailoa to play.

A league source said the NFL and NFLPA jointly conducted interviews Friday afternoon with those involved in allowing Tagovailoa to play, including club staff and the consultant who was fired.

In a joint statement, the NFL and the union said their investigation into the decision to allow Tagovailoa to play on Sunday is continuing but agree that the league’s concussion protocol needs to be updated to better define “gross motor instability” and use the signs to prevent further injury.

According to the league’s concussion protocol, a display of gross motor instability should trigger a concussion assessment by medical personnel.

If staff, including the unaffiliated Neurotrauma Consultant, determine that the display does not have a neurological cause, the player may return to play.

The horrific injuries last Sunday and Thursday prompted widespread criticism of the system and staff to prevent such incidents.

“I couldn’t believe what I saw last night,” Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh said Friday. “I couldn’t believe what I saw last Sunday. It was just an amazing thing to see. I’ve been coaching for 40 years now, in college and in the NFL, almost 40, and I’ve never seen anything like it before. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.

Tagovailoa was rechecked daily before Thursday’s game, NFL chief medical officer Dr. Allen Sills told NFL Media.

After Thursday’s injury, Tagovailoa was taken to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center for evaluation before being sent home with his team. Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel said it’s not yet clear when Tagovailoa will be able to return to the field.

The team’s next game is Oct. 9 against the New York Jets in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

CORRECTION [Oct. 3, 2022, 12:17 a.m.ET] An earlier version of this article misrepresented the location and score of the Miami Dolphins-Buffalo Bills game on Sept. 25. The Dolphins won, 21-19, and the game was played in Miami, not Buffalo.

The article also misrepresented the location of the Dolphins’ Sept. 29 game against the Cincinnati Bengals. The game was in Cincinnati, not Miami.

David K. Li and Denis Romero contributed.

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