The Tua Trouble: Recent NFL Injuries

Injuries are present in football every year, but recent events have put the NFL under increased scrutiny.


Injuries are not uncommon in the NFL. Every year, dozens of players suffer from ailments of varying severity, with some still playing the following week, but some not returning for the rest of the season. Many fantasy football teams have already been razed to the ground by injuries, including my own. Despite the NFL and its teams’ professional level of care for the players, some recent injuries have garnered scrutiny and backlash from players, fans, and even health professionals. 


The Dolphins Debacle:

In a Week 3 win against the Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa began down a dangerous road of injuries when he took a sack in the first half of the game. Tagovailoa was slammed to the ground, and slow to get up. After finally getting to his feet, Tagovailoa had serious trouble walking, stumbling around the field and having to be held upright by his offensive line. Tagovailoa was promptly taken off the field, and examined for the possibility of a brain injury, likely a concussion, which seemed to be the case considering the obvious symptoms he displayed. However, the Dolphins quarterback was cleared of a concussion, and allowed to return to the game in the second half under the pretense that the big hit caused a back injury, not a head injury, which led to his inability to properly walk. Tagovailoa was not in concussion protocol following the game against the Bills.


In Week 4 of the 2022 NFL Season, the Miami Dolphins played the Cincinnati Bengals on Thursday Night Football, only four days after Tua Tagovailoa’s supposed “back injury.” With a primetime audience all watching closely, Tua took another sack, one that has led to backlash from fans, players, and health professionals alike. Tagovailoa was taken to the turf with the force of a 300 pound defensive tackle, and his head struck the ground hard. Contrary to the previous week, Tagovailoa could not get to his feet at all. As he laid unconscious, his fingers distorted and locked in place, known as decorticate posturing, a scary sight for the millions of fans watching the game. He was carted off the field and to a hospital to undergo more strenuous evaluations for his, at this point very obvious, brain injury. His MRI came out clean, meaning he was clear of structural damage or bleeding of the brain, but he very obviously had a concussion.

The recent trials of Tua Tagovailoa have inspired outspoken comments by health professionals, along with the NFL Players Union, advocating for changes to the now clearly flawed concussion examinations for players with suspected brain injuries. The Dolphins fired the unaffiliated neurotrauma consultant who evaluated Tua Tagovailoa and cleared him for return during the September 25 game against the Buffalo Bills on the Sunday following Tagovailoa’s second hit. This may just be a scapegoat play by the Dolphins, but it is obvious that changes are needed around the league in regard to the concussion protocol for players.


Week 1:

In Week 1 of the 2022 NFL Season, the Dallas Cowboys’ star quarterback Dak Prescott suffered an injury to his throwing hand during a game against the Buccaneers. The fractured thumb required surgery, and after 5 weeks, Prescott has returned to participate in the Cowboys’ practice. 

The San Francisco 49ers’ starting running back Elijah Mitchell faced a bad knee injury during a rainy game at the Bears’ Soldier Field. A sprained MCL has sidelined Mitchell since the injury, with at least another month left before a possible return to play. 


Week 2:

Week 2 saw another major loss for the San Francisco 49ers. Starting quarterback Trey Lance suffered a broken ankle in the opening minutes of a game vs the Seattle Seahawks. Lance is out for the remainder of the season, meaning that the past 49ers starter, Jimmy Garoppolo, will take the reins of the San Francisco offense. 


Week 3:

The New England Patriots took a major blow with an injury to their quarterback in Week 3. Mac Jones suffered an ankle injury against Baltimore, and has been out of commission for the last two weeks. Jones is likely looking to return this week (Week 6) or next (Week 7).

The historically injury-ridden Dalvin Cook suffered a dislocated shoulder. Despite that along with an unrepaired labral tear, Cook has continued to play every week of the season so far. 


Week 4:

Denver Broncos running back Javonte Williams suffered a torn ACL in a Week 4 game against the Las Vegas Raiders. The injury is unfortunately likely season-ending, so back up Melvin Gordon III will take more of a role moving forward.

New York Giants Quarterbacks Tyrod Taylor and Daniel Jones both suffered injuries, a concussion and ankle injury respectively. This could prove problematic for the team if both quarterbacks have lingering problems. 


Week 5:

Following Tua Tagovailoa’s injuries, backup Dolphins quarterback Teddy Bridgewater also suffered a concussion versus the New York Jets.

New Orleans Saints rookie wide receiver Chris Olave sustained a concussion in Week 5 vs the Seattle Seahawks.

Also, Seahawks running back Rashaad Penny suffered a fractured tibia vs the Saints. Rookie running back Kenneth Walker III has been promoted to take over the starting job.


Week 6:

Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Marquise “Hollywood” Brown suffered a non-surgical ankle fracture, and is expected to miss six weeks of the season.