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NFL releases findings of Tua Tagovailoa investigation

Tua Tagovailoa celebrates a play

Jan 9, 2022; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (1) reacts after running with the football for a first down against the New England Patriots during the fourth quarter at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL and NFLPA have released their findings as part of the joint investigation into what took place following Tua Tagovailoa’s Week 3 injury and concussion check.

In a statement, the league said that the medical staff followed the steps of the concussion protocol as written when investigating Tagovailoa’s injury in Week 3 against the Buffalo Bills. However, the league and union said the outcome was “not what was intended when the Protocols were drafted.” In essence, while protocols were followed, those protocols were insufficient in this case.

As a result, the protocols have been modified to include ataxia as a “no-go” symptom that will result in a player being ruled out of the game immediately. Ataxia includes any balance, motor or speech difficulty observed in a player, even if it is not necessarily the result of a head injury.

Tagovailoa’s balance issues were the result of a back injury, according to medical staff that observed him in Week 3. While Tagovailoa’s back was not examined during the concussion protocol, the report states that the Miami Dolphins quarterback showed no symptoms of a concussion during or after the game or at any point in the following week.

The Dolphins cleared Tagovailoa to play in Week 4, despite it being a short week. He did suffer a head injury in that game, which led to significant criticism of the team and the league. It is possible he still would have been cleared to play in Week 4 under the adjusted protocol, but he would certainly have been ruled out of the Buffalo game.

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