The medical professional who cleared Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa to play after a suspected concussion during Sunday’s game against the Buffalo Bills has been fired by the NFL Players Association, ESPN reported Saturday.
The unidentified doctor, described by ESPN as an “unaffiliated neurotrauma consultant,” made “several mistakes” as he evaluated Tagovailoa, per the report. Tagovailoa hit his head on the turf after he was shoved by Bills linebacker Matt Milano late in the second quarter, and the quarterback returned to start the third quarter. He appeared shaky and stumbled as he left the field, but the team reported he had a back injury.
The report also indicates that a neurotrauma consultant can be fired independently by either the NFLPA or the league.
Dr. Allen Sills, the NFL’s chief medical officer, said Friday that Tagovailoa was checked for concussion symptoms every day this week before an independent neurologist cleared him to take the field on Thursday night against the Cincinnati Bengals.
The 24-year-old quarterback was taken to a hospital Thursday after hitting his head on the turf while being sacked by Bengals nose tackle Josh Tupou in the second quarter. Tagovailoa remained on the turf for roughly 12 minutes before he was carted off the field on a stretcher and eventually taken to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center with a concussion and neck injury.
He flew back to Miami with the team and is in the league’s concussion protocol with no timetable provided for his return. Veteran Teddy Bridgewater will quarterback the team in Tagovailoa’s absence.
The NFL Players Association initiated its right to request a review of the league’s concussion protocol following Sunday’s game.
Assocation president JC Tretter tweeted Friday that he is “outraged.”
“We are all outraged by what we have seen the last several days and scared for the safety of one of our brothers,” Tretter said. “What everyone saw both Sunday and last night were ‘no-go’ symptoms within our concussion protocols. The protocols exist to protect the player and that is why we initiated an investigation.”
Dolphins first-year head coach Mike McDaniel said Friday that the team followed the proper procedures with Tagovailoa.
“I have 100 percent conviction in our process regarding our players,” McDaniel said. “This is a player-friendly organization, and I make it very clear from the onset that my job here is for the players. I take that very seriously. No one in the building strays from that. … If there would have been anything lingering with his head, I wouldn’t have been able to live with myself if I prematurely put someone out there and put them in harm’s way.”