Next week’s Miami Dolphins’ injury report will probably list quarterback Tua Tagovailoa as “doubtful.’’
If you watched the horrifying condition Tagovailoa was in after taking gruesome hits in the last two games, you might prefer him more than `”doubtful.’’ But this is the macho NFL, where real men take the hits and bounce back up to take another. Weak-kneed players need not apply.
Tagovailoa was leveled in a Sunday game against Buffalo, hit so violently that he fell to the turf trying to get off the field. No problem. He returned to the game, cannon fodder for opposing defenders.
And then, just to show how he was fine, the quarterback was back out there four days later in Miami’s game at Cincinnati and, what do you know, he went down to the turf violently again.
This time, he did not get up.
As he lay on the turf his hands were frozen in front of his face, an alarming signal to health care professionals that this was not some run-of-the-mill injury. He was carried off on a stretcher, just another casualty in the violent world of the NFL.
Somehow, Tagovailoa came out of this bruised brain perfecta in one piece, released from the hospital in Cincinnati in time to accompany his team on their flight back home.
See, that wasn’t so bad, after all.
First-year coach Mike McDaniel was relieved that “he didn’t have anything more serious than a concussion.’’
This man needs to be introduced to some of the NFL alumni who experienced concussions. They can explain that a concussion is a traumatic brain injury. It has lingering after-effects and they are not pleasant. And Tagovailoa’s episode of having his hands frozen in front of his face suggests brain stem involvement.
That’s pretty serious.
But the NFL is America’s most popular sport because of the brutal contact involved in the games. It’s the same attraction that brings 400,000 fans to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway each May, waiting for the crashes.
In its leather helmet days, NFL health protocol was sketchy. The league has made some progress trying to protect players but maybe the best idea came in a casual announcement last week when Tagovailoa, all healed up, was welcomed back by his Dolphin teammates.
When they play the Pro Bowl this year, a vain attempt at an all-star game, the league announced that it will be a flag football event. Maybe nobody gets a concussion that way.