The Tua Tagovailoa effect? At least a dozen players benched Sunday under NFL concussion

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Following a firestorm of health and safety criticism directed at the NFL for its handling of Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa last week, at least 12 players were removed from Sunday’s games under the league’s concussion protocols.

The neurological evaluations occurred across eight of 14 games Sunday and appeared to suggest a cautious uptick of emphasis when compared to numbers from the previous week. During the league’s Week 3 slate, only three players appeared to have been benched after entering concussion protocols. That group didn’t include Tagovailoa, who hit his head while facing the Buffalo Bills and then stumbled to the ground as he tried to walk to the huddle, raising concerns about whether he’d sustained a concussion. Tagovailoa underwent a neurological evaluation at halftime of that game and was ultimately allowed to return to the field. That decision resulted in the NFL Players Association immediately calling for an investigation into whether proper concussion protocols were followed.

Four days later on the league’s prime-time Thursday game, Tagovailoa suffered a concussion against the Cincinnati Bengals and had to be taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital. In the fallout of that incident and in the wake of pressing questions about what had occurred during the Buffalo game, the NFLPA exercised its right to fire the unaffiliated neurotrauma consultant who examined Tagovailoa and allowed him to continue playing against the Bills. It also spurred the NFL and NFLPA to open discussions about revamping the league’s concussion protocols, with an emphasis on removing players who display any motor instability during gameplay. The NFL and NFLPA announced potential forthcoming “modifications” to the concussion protocols on Saturday, leaving open the possibility that changes could be instituted as soon as Week 5.

Oct 2, 2022; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New York Giants quarterback Tyrod Taylor (2) fumbles the ball after being hit by Chicago Bears cornerback Kyler Gordon (6) and linebacker Nicholas Morrow (53) during the fourth quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

That announcement also set the stage for Sunday, when it was expected that officials and teams would be keeping a closer eye on players and moving quickly to take them off the field if it was deemed that concussion protocols were warranted. What resulted was a spate of flagging and examinations that impacted two quarterbacks, two star linebackers and a handful of other key players in games.

Among them:

That’s a solid number of players taken out of action just three days removed from the Tagovailoa concussion and might be suggestive of where the revamped protocols are headed when the NFL and NFLPA finalize changes.



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