NFLPA fires neurotrauma consultant involved with Tua Tagovailoa’s injury treatment

Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is examined during the first half of the team's NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Jeff Dean) (Jeff Dean, Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

MIAMI – The NFL Players Association terminated the unaffiliated neurotrauma consultant involved in Tua Tagovailoa’s concussion check last Sunday, according to a source.

It comes after NFL’s handling of concussions was questioned by many after Tagovailoa was slammed backward into the turf and allowed to play just four days after he stumbled off the field and was unable to walk following a hit to his head during a home game against Buffalo on Sunday.

The latter injury happened late in the second quarter of Thursday night’s game at Cincinnati.

Tagovailoa was thrown backward while being sacked by Bengals defensive tackle Josh Tupou and appeared to hit the back of his head on the turf.

Medical staff placed Tagovailoa on a backboard and wheeled him off the field after he was placed on a stretcher.

Tagovailoa’s hands froze up and his fingers flexed awkwardly in front of his facemask for several seconds as he laid on the turf in Cincinnati, a scary scene witnessed by millions of viewers.

Tagovailoa remained on the ground for several minutes and was checked by team doctors and an Unaffiliated Neurotrauma Consultant (UNC) until he was taken away on a stretcher and sent to a hospital.

According to the league, every UNC is selected and credentialed by the players union and the NFL Head, Neck and Spine Committee. The UNC is tasked with assisting the team’s medical staff.

This time — unlike Sunday when he seemed to exhibit concussion symptoms but was cleared by a team physician and UNC to return — Tagovailoa was diagnosed with a concussion.

He was released from the hospital and flew home with the team. Flying hours after suffering a concussion also raised questions, but NFL chief medical officer Dr. Allen Sills said the hospital makes that decision.

Tagovailoa’s quick return Sunday prompted a joint review by the NFL and NFLPA, which lead to the recent firing.

The investigation is still ongoing.


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Ryan Mackey is our newest digital journalist at WPLG. He is New York born and South Florida raised.