By Ken Reed
Tua Tagovailoa is in the NFL’s concussion protocol once again.
He has suffered multiple concussions this year. For his long-term health, he should seriously consider retiring from football.
Human beings can make full recoveries from knee, ankle and shoulder injuries. That isn’t always the case with brain injuries.
Tagovailoa, unconscionably, was allowed to keep playing earlier this year after clearly suffering a concussion against the Buffalo Bills. Moreover, he was allowed to play in the next game, four days later, against the Cincinnati Bengals, a game in which he suffered a serious concussion and was taken off the field on a stretcher.
In reviewing the film from last week’s Miami-Green Bay game, doctors believe Tagovailoa likely suffered his latest concussion when he banged his head against the ground in the second quarter. He finished the game but didn’t appear to be the same person in the second half, a half in which he threw three interceptions. Somehow, Miami and NFL medical personnel apparently didn’t see Tagovailoa’s head slammed to the ground after releasing a pass in the second quarter of the Green Bay game. Or, if they did, they didn’t pull him from the game.
Continuing to play after suffering a concussion is extremely dangerous. People who suffer a second concussion shortly after a first one are at risk for Second Impact Syndrome, which can have devastating consequences, including death.
“If you love your life, if you love your family, you love your kids — if you have kids — it’s time to gallantly walk away,” said. Dr. Bennet Omalu earlier this year after Tagovailoa was taken off the field on a stretcher in the Bengals game. Omalu is the famous neuropathologist who discovered the brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), which is caused by repetitive blows to the brain. “Go find something else to do.” Omalu believes it is likely that Tagovailoa “suffered severe, long-term permanent brain damage” in that Bengals game.
Each time you suffer a concussion, you’re more susceptible to another one. Thus, people who have suffered multiple concussions, especially within a short timeframe, are significantly more prone to suffering another one. The blow to the head doesn’t need to be as severe next time.
Clearly, this won’t be an easy decision for Tagovailoa. He loves football and he’s getting paid handsomely as a starting NFL quarterback. But he also recently became the father of a son, his first child, giving him something else to think about when considering his football future.
Here’s hoping he sits out the final two games of this season (and any possible playoff games the Dolphins might have) and then takes the time needed this offseason to fully reflect on his brain injuries and think about his football future with family, friends and trusted medical personnel.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
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Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
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Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
- Reed Appears on Ralph Nader Radio Hour League of Fans’ sports policy director, Ken Reed, Ralph Nader and the New York Times’ Tyler Kepner discussed a variety of sports issues on Nader’s radio show as well as Reed’s updated book, How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan. Reed's book was released in paperback in February, and has a new introduction and several updated sections.
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
Vanderbilt Sport & Society - On The Ball with Andrew Maraniss with guest Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director for League of Fans and author of How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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