Members of the Miami Dolphins surround quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (1) as he is carted off the field after a hit in the first half against the Cincinnati Bengals Sep 29, 2022; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Members of the Miami Dolphins surround quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (1) as he is carted off the field after a hit in the first half against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paycor Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

It was an absolute sum of all fears moment on Thursday night when Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was thrown violently to the ground, smacking his back and head on the ground, and stayed down while his body contorted in apparent agony. Just four days after another injury that appeared to many to be concussion-related, NFL viewers watched in horror as he was taken off the field on a stretcher.

Almost immediately, the NFL world was furious with the Dolphins organization for even allowing Tua to be on the field just days after a significant injury. Many were already suspicious of the diagnosis that Tua suffered a back injury on Sunday. The NFLPA was still amidst an investigation into how the quarterback made it through concussion protocols so fast and was able to return to that game. The NFL has claimed that all protocols were followed.

Naturally, Miami head coach Mike McDaniel was asked about the situation at his post-game press conference. The first-year coach tried to make it abundantly clear that the franchise did not misreport Tua’s initial injury and that all protocols were followed as required. He also said that had it been diagnosed that Tagovailoa had suffered a concussion on Sunday, he would not have been allowed to play.

“Yeah, otherwise we would have reported him having a head injury,” said McDaniel when asked about whether or not the franchise followed proper process with Sunday’s injury. “I mean, that’s why the NFL has those protocols. Like, every single NFL game that is played, there’s an independent specialist that specializes in the specialty of brain matter.

“For me, as long as I’m coaching here, I’m not gonna fudge that whole situation. If there’s any sort of inclination that someone has a concussion, like, it was a concussion protocol, it’s very strict. People don’t vary or stray. We don’t mess with that. Never have. As long as I’m the head coach that’ll never be an issue you guys will have to worry about.”

The hard part for a lot of NFL viewers and impartial analysts is that the video seems to tell a very specific story about what happened to Tua on Sunday and what happened to Tua on Thursday. That story doesn’t seem to jibe with what the NFL and the Dolphins have said so far and, truth be told, there isn’t a lot of faith in the league and its franchises to always do the right thing when money is on the line. (See: Watson, Deshaun).

We’ll see in the coming days what the prognosis is for Tagovailoa and where the Dolphins and NFL go from here. It’s hard to imagine that either will be able to just say that Tua is fine and move forward, and you can expect the conversation about concussions, CTE, and the health of football players to be pretty loud in the coming days.

[Will Manso]

About Sean Keeley

Along with writing for Awful Announcing and The Comeback, Sean is the Editorial Strategy Director for Comeback Media. Previously, he created the Syracuse blog Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician and wrote 'How To Grow An Orange: The Right Way to Brainwash Your Child Into Rooting for Syracuse.' He has also written non-Syracuse-related things for SB Nation, Curbed, and other outlets. He currently lives in Seattle where he is complaining about bagels. Send tips/comments/complaints to