The NFL and NFLPA agree the league’s concussion protocol needs to change after the poor handling of Tua Tagovailoa’s injuries over the past two weeks, and a New England Patriots Super Bowl champion had a passionate response for all players in the league.
The Dolphins quarterback was stretchered out of Miami’s Week 4 game against the Cincinnati Bengals due to head and neck injuries. That came after Tagovailoa appeared to suffer a concussion in Week 3 but somehow passed the concussion protocol to play the rest of the game and be cleared for Thursday’s game.
Many have criticized the league’s concussion protocol, and an investigation is ongoing in how Tagovailoa was able to continue playing in Week 3 and Week 4. The timetable for the quarterback’s return is unknown, but Maria Taylor, Tony Dungy and Rodney Harrison spoke about the incident on NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” broadcast, and the former Patriot made an impactful statement, joining Rob Ninkovich, who also made a powerful statement.
“I would get hit, the entire stadium is spinning around, and I would go back into the game,” Harrison said, per NBC video. “It’s not worth it, Maria, and I would implore these young men, don’t go back on that football field if you get hurt because I don’t want them to feel like me and so many other former players that had to deal with concussions. Whether it’s depression, anxiety, paranoia, broken relationships, not being able to communicate with your spouse and things like that, it’s a lot. CTE takes you to a dark place, and I want these players to know, it’s not worth it. Please take care of yourself. Don’t depend on the NFL. Don’t depend on anybody. If something’s wrong with your head, report it.”
There is a strong desire to keep playing despite being hurt in fear of being seen as “soft” in front of teammates or those around the league. Harrison’s statement seemingly looks to reject that notion, and perhaps that sentiment being sent by the two-time Super Bowl champion will ring louder for the current players in the NFL.