Now, we know that it won’t be an NFL or Miami Dolphins staffer, but an independent doctor –which the league refers to as a neurotrauma consultant- that lost their job. According to ESPN, multiple sources said the firing came after it was discovered the consultant made “several mistakes” in his injury evaluation.
The unaffiliated neurotrauma consultant (UNC) was the individual who evaluated Tagovailoa after he stumbled off the field after suffering a hard head hit to the turf and allowed him to keep playing in the Buffalo Bills game last Sunday.
Both the league and its players’ union issued a joint statement on Saturday saying that a review into Tagovailoa’s quick return is underway.
“The NFL and the NFLPA agree that The NFLPA’s Mackey-White Health & Safety Committee and the NFL’s Head Neck and Spine Committee have already begun conversations around the use of the term ‘Gross Motor Instability’ and we anticipate changes to the protocol being made in the coming days based on what has been learned thus far in the review process,” the joint statement read.
Three UNCs are present at each game, and since they aren’t direct employees of the NFL, they’re paid by both the league and the NFLPA. They then work with the on-staff doctors to help diagnose concussions and how to properly take care of athletes who are recovering.
After that first hit in Buffalo, the team of medical experts allowed him to go back into the game and later explained that his wobbly legs resulted from a back injury, not a head injury.
Then, just four days later, on a Thursday Night Football game, Tagovailoa suffered another devastating head and neck injury after Cincinnati Bengals nose tackle Josh Tupou wrapped him up in the second quarter.
He then rolled over onto his back and appeared to stare at his hyper-extended and bent fingers. Reports say he remained on the field for 10 minutes as his teammates gathered around him before eventually being carted off the field.
After he was carted off the field, he was rushed to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center but was later discharged and traveled back to Miami with his team.
“It was a scary moment,” Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniels said after the game. “He was evaluated for a concussion and is in concussion protocol …That was an emotional moment. That is not part of the deal anyone signs up for even though you know it’s a possibility in football.”
Here’s how Twitter reacted after the nasty injury: