On the surface, the situation that emerged last Sunday involving Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa can seem complicated. After seeing Tua stumble and nearly fall, was it a head injury or a back injury?
The NFL Players Association believes it’s far more simple than that. Per a source with knowledge of the union’s thinking, even if it was a back injury, Tua shouldn’t have returned to action.
Spinal cord injuries can be serious. Very serious. If Tua did indeed suffer a back injury that produced gross motor instability, why did the doctors allow him to return?
When the NFLPA and the NFL interview Tua this week as part of the ongoing investigation, the union plans, we’re told, to ask Tua a very straightforward and direct question. If you told the doctors you injured your back, what they do to examine your back?
It’s possible that there was no examination. It’s possible that the examination may have included one or more flaws.
Again, the goal is to steer the process away from a checklist for letting players continue to play and more toward an effort to evaluate players as patients, even if it means telling them they can’t play.
Doctor’s tell us all the time not to do certain things, for our own good. In most situations, we’re on our own when it comes to whether we will, or won’t, comply. When it comes to football, there’s much easier way to ensure that the player complies with medical advice. The team and/or the league simply tell him that he must.