Sports commentary: NFL needs to protect players

Brandon Dyer, Sports Editor & Podcast Host

Photo by Abby Chesnut

The NFL has had their fair share of sticky situations in the past, but one that continues to be a major concern to me is the lack of action when it comes to concussions.

It is no secret to anyone that concussions are happening at a high rate, even with the safety measures already being implemented. However, the topic got brought up again after Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa appeared to suffer a head injury late in the second quarter in their team’s game against the Buffalo Bills on Sept. 25.

In what I thought was a shocking decision, Tagovailoa came right back into the game after halftime to finish up the game.

Just four days later, the Dolphins had a game against the Cincinnati Bengals and yet again Tagovailoa was reported to start the game. To almost no one’s surprise, Tagovailoa went down yet again with this looking like one of the most gruesome injuries that I have seen.

Almost immediately, Twitter was caught in an uproar with mixed emotions, such as Twitter user Kyler Burd.

Burd said that he “Didn’t see it live, but just saw a clip. Absolutely gutted for Tua. And if the Dolphins had him play knowing there was potential damage from a concussion on Sunday, the NFL needs to bring down the hammer on that organization.”

Following the media uproar, the Dolphins fired the consultant that cleared Tagovailoa to play against the Bengals. However, the NFL itself didn’t step in and make sure that the situation was handled properly.

Whether this was him trying to play “macho man” or the team itself trying to cut corners in order to ensure their best players are on the field to produce wins, this situation was a complete disaster.

If Tagovailoa wound up playing because the Dolphins just needed him, then the Dolphins need to get fined and medical staff fired. On the other hand, if Tagovailoa chose to play, then the team’s medical staff should have stepped in and told him that he couldn’t.

The NFL must do a better job at monitoring the concussion protocol that the teams have in place instead of seemingly having the stance of letting teams handle it internally.

This man almost suffered a career-ending injury just because no one wanted to step in and ensure that his safety was taken as the most important thing.

This incident has not been the first in ignoring a severe concussion injury within the NFL. Concussions have been historically ignored and downplayed in the sport, leading to lasting brain injuries that are detrimental to the players receiving them.