Tua Tagovailoa was taken off on a stretcher after a second concerning blow in just four days

Tua Tagovailoa has taken to social media to thank people for the outpouring of support he has received after being taken to hospital with a concussion in Thursday’s NFL game.

‘I want to thank everyone for all of their prayers and support since the game last night,’ he wrote. ‘It was difficult to not be able to finish the game and be there with my teammates, but I am grateful for the support and care I’ve received from the Dolphins, my friends and family, and all the people who have reached out. 

‘I’m feeling much better and focused on recovering so I can get back out on the field with my teammates.’

Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel also spoke about Tagovailoa on Friday but refused to put a timetable on his return.

‘What gets lost in all this is human relationships,’ McDaniel said. ‘These aren’t just players, they are people we mutually invest in, someone I have grown very, very close to. 

‘When it comes to head injuries and concussions, things that serve, the only thing I am worried about is the person. I am worried about him getting healthy, getting all the testing done and us working with him and feeling good where the injury is. We’ll cross the bridge for however long but haven’t thought about that yet.’

Tagovailoa was taken off on a stretcher after a second concerning blow in just four days  - coach Mike McDaniel (right) said he spoke to his QB as he was taken off the field

Tua Tagovailoa was taken off on a stretcher after a second concerning blow in just four days  – coach Mike McDaniel (right) said he spoke to his QB as he was taken off the pitch

The 24-year-old needed extensive treatment on the field in what were concerning scenes

The 24-year-old needed extensive treatment on the field in what were concerning scenes

Tagovailoa was carried off the field on a stretcher before being taken to a nearby hospital

Tagovailoa was carried off the field on a stretcher before being taken to a nearby hospital

Tua Tagovailova suffered a head injury when Josh Tupou of the Bengals tackled him Thursday

The incident occurred when Josh Tupou of the Bengals tackled Tagovailoa in the first half

Just four days earlier, Tagovailoa staggered around after a hit, appearing to be concussed

Just four days earlier, Tagovailoa staggered around after a hit, appearing to be concussed

Tagovailoa went off on a stretcher and straight to hospital with head and neck injuries on Thursday night, after recoiling in pain and needing lengthy treatment from a heavy tackle when the Dolphins met the Bengals

He was controversially deemed fine to play for the  Dolphins only four days after he appeared to struggle with a concussion in Sunday’s win over the Bills.

But after a tackle from 6-foot-3, 340-pound Josh Tupou of the Bengals, quarterback Tagovailoa hit the back of his head, stayed down and was visibly distressed by the pain he was in. 

He needed sustained treatment from a number of medics before going off on a stretcher and heading to hospital at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center. Fortunately Tagovailoa was discharged and flew home with the team on Thursday night.

Tagovailoa’s hands appeared to go into the Fencing response on landing, which is an unnatural position of the arms after a concussion.

The Amazon Prime commentary said that Tagovailoa, 24, had head and neck injuries but that he was able to speak to coach Mike McDaniel before going to hospital and asked about the play in question. 

As he was tackled by Tupou he fell backwards at speed, causing the back of his head to crash against the ground. The entire Dolphins team gathered around the midfield while their team-mate was being treated. As he was rolled off the field, the crowd chanted ‘Tua! Tua!’

The Dolphins said in a statement: ‘Tua Tagovailoa has been taken to a local hospital for further evaluation. He is conscious and has movement in all his extremities.’|

Speaking after the game, which the Dolphins lost 15-27, coach McDaniel said: ‘It was a scary moment. He was evaluated for a concussion and he’s in concussion protocol. He’s about to get discharged. That was an emotional moment.

‘The best news that we could get is that everything’s checked out, that he didn’t have anything more serious than a concussion, and will be flying back with us here on the plane.’

Chris Nowinski, a Harvard-educated neuroscientist and critic of the handling of concussions in the NFL, reacted with immediate outrage on Twitter.

Sharing a clip of the incident on Thursday, he said: ‘This is a disaster. Pray for Tua. Fire the medical staffs and coaches. I predicted this and I hate that I am right. Two concussions in 5 days can kill someone. This can end careers. How are we so stupid in 2022.’

Patrick Mahomes, the quarterback for the Kansas City Chiefs, summed up the mood of everyone watching on when he tweeted: ‘Prayers up man’. 

The NFL Players’ Association tweeted: ‘Player health and safety is at the core of the union’s mission. Our concern tonight is for Tua and we hope for a full and speedy recovery. Our investigation into the potential protocol violation is ongoing.’ 

Before the game had even started, Nowinski tweeted: ‘If Tua takes the field tonight, it’s a massive step back for #concussion care in the NFL. 

‘If he has a 2nd concussion that destroys his season or career, everyone involved will be sued & should lose their jobs, coaches included. We all saw it, even they must know this isn’t right.’

In Sunday’s game with the Bills, Tagovailoa appeared disorientated after a challenge and briefly left the pitch after hitting the back of his head on the turf. He stumbled on his feet and team-mates had to hold him up.

He was facing a third-and-3 play from the Miami 21 when he scrambled and found Jaylen Waddle for an 8-yard gain. After releasing the ball, Tagovailoa got hit – a two-hand push in the chest – by Buffalo linebacker Matt Milano, who was flagged for roughing the passer. 

Tagovailoa’s return raised some questions. The NFL announced Wednesday that they were reviewing how he returned to the game but upon getting back to the field in the second half, the Dolphins announced that Tagovailoa had suffered a back injury and was not concussed.

The Dolphins team gathered around the midfield while their team-mate was given attention

The Dolphins team gathered around the midfield while their team-mate was given attention

Tagovailoa's hands appeared to go into the Fencing response on landing, which is an unnatural position of the arms after a concussion

Tagovailoa’s hands appeared to go into the Fencing response on landing, which is an unnatural position of the arms after a concussion

Tupou (center) watches on as Tagovailoa receives medical attention after their collision

Tupou (center) watches on as Tagovailoa receives medical attention after their collision

Tagovailoa described the incident later, maintaining he had aggravated a back issue. 

‘On the quarterback sneak, I kind of got my legs got caught under someone and they were trying to push back and it felt like I kind of hyperextended my back or something,’ Tagovailoa told reporters ‘Then on the next play, I kinda hit my back… that’s where I stumbled.’

Speaking Monday, coach McDaniel said the health of his players is something he approaches with caution.

‘The one thing I think our players know more than anybody, there’s certain things that I’m very sensitive to. I’ve been called emotional from time to time, and one of those things is player health,” McDaniel said. 

‘So I don’t mess around with that at all. They went through the protocols and in that process during the game, and it was something that we wouldn’t have moved forward in the direction we did, had there been any sort of red flags because that’s — you can’t keep quarterbacks out of harm’s way so you wouldn’t — if he had a head issue, he wouldn’t have been back out there.’

Quarter-back Tagovailoa was deemed fine to play for the Miami Dolphins on Thursday night

Quarter-back Tagovailoa was deemed fine to play for the Miami Dolphins on Thursday night

Tagovailoa maintained he had only injured his back on Sunday and had not been concussed

Tagovailoa maintained he had only injured his back on Sunday and had not been concussed

Tagovailoa said he ‘passed whatever concussion protocol they had,’ adding, ‘I’m good.’

However, vocal critic Nowinski took issue with that explanation on Twitter. 

‘I’m calling bulls*** on the ”back tweak theory,”’ Nowinski tweeted. ‘Watch the vid. Tua shakes his head multiple times to ‘clear the cobwebs’, which is a specific sign of vision impairment after #concussion. He also wobbles getting up before falling. His return is a fail @NFL.’

He was listed as questionable for the game on Thursday but ultimately, the Dolphins decided that he was well enough to play. 

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