PHOENIX (AP) — Tua Tagovailoa is grateful the Miami Dolphins kept him off the field after suffering his second concussion and he has no doubts about returning to play next season.
The third-year quarterback missed Miami’s final three games, including a playoff loss to Buffalo, after being diagnosed with a concussion following a loss to Green Bay on Dec. 25.
“One of the biggest things I was trying to do was get back on the field and it was something that I had to consult with my wife, consult with my parents, my family,” Tagovailoa told the AP Pro Football Podcast on Friday. “But at the end of the day, I think others had bigger interests in my health than I did. (I’m) talking about the Dolphins, and their whole plan was: ‘Hey, we want to just protect you from yourself and not put any pressure on you to return back for this year.’ And so, as much as I wanted to come back and a lot of the conversations that we’ve had, it’s just that’s how the cards played out.
“Looking back at it, I’m very, very grateful that they didn’t rush me back. I’ve been able to take care of myself that much more and better.”
The NFL and the players’ union revised concussion protocols in October following a joint investigation into the procedures after Tagovailoa suffered what was described as a back injury against the Buffalo Bills in September.
In the first half of a game against Buffalo on Sept. 25, Tagovailoa took a hit from Bills linebacker Matt Milano, which caused him to slam to the ground. He appeared disoriented afterward and stumbled as he tried to get to his feet.
Tagovailoa was immediately taken to the locker room and returned after he was cleared of any head injury.
Just four days later, Tagovailoa started against the Cincinnati Bengals in a Thursday night game. He suffered a concussion in the first half after his head violently slammed the ground on a sack. He displayed the fencing response after the scary hit and was taken off the field by stretcher. Tagovailoa returned after missing two games.
When he suffered the second concussion, the Dolphins held him out.
“I would say it’s very important,” Tagovailoa said about the team not allowing him to return. “In a game like this where masculinity is everything and how you portray yourself in a building like that, you either earn respect from your guys or you lose respect. There’s no ‘I respect you, but.’ It’s either you do or you don’t.
“And so having the doctors and all of those guys being able to kind of help take a lot of the load off with all that pressure has been really good.”
Tagovailoa was 8-5 in his 13 starts and threw for a career-high 3,548 yards and 25 touchdowns with an NFL-best 105.5 passer rating. He plans to be ready for offseason workouts when the Dolphins return.
“No reservations here,” said Tagovailoa, who appeared on Radio Row on behalf of Subway. “I believe you’re either all in or you’re not. So I’m all in.”
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