Time to Talk About Tua: The Problem with NFL Concussion Protocol

Pittman Alley ’24 in Sports | October 7, 2022

Tua Tagovailoa began his season in the NFL balling out with a renewed vigor after battling numerous injuries during both his collegiate and professional careers. New additions to the Miami Dolphins roster, including a new coach, Mike McDaniel, and star wide receiver, Tyreek Hill, had faithful fans hopeful about the future of the Dolphins. That is, at least, until two Sundays ago, when Tua suffered a concussion, originally mistaken for a back injury, in a game against the Buffalo Bills. The following Thursday, the unthinkable happened; after he was sacked by Bengals Nose Tackle Josh Tupou, Tagovailoa suffered another concussion, and was immediately taken back to Miami, turning a promising career into a possible retirement for the young star. The problem is not just with the Dolphins, either. While the NFL has made great strides in protecting player safety, teams are still suffering from many concussions, illuminating the fact that the NFL still has work to do. 
As of last Saturday, October 1, Tua has been placed in concussion protocol and will not play this week. The NFL has attempted to nullify the problem of head injuries by developing technology that scans your head and perfectly tailors a helmet to the player. The problem is that this sport is football. Frankly, you have to be a little crazy to play a professional sport that might  paralyze you for the rest of your life. While this problem  stems a little from the NFL, it stems more from the sport itself. 
The NFL has tried to improve player safety byinvesting $20 million in developing new helmets in 2015. In the grand scheme of things, that money is almost nothing to a multi-billion dollar corporation. The number one priority of the league as of right now should be to protect players’. Though this effort may result in what NFL fans might call “soft rules,” by not letting players hit one another as hard. This is the only solution; the players’ association must initiate a lockout. The fact that the league has to face this problem over and over again makes me sick to my stomach. Solutions could include different ways to tackle or make soft-shell helmet covers mandatory for games. We can have a more interesting NFL that includes many concussions but would be more interesting to watch, primarily because of big hits, or one that prioritizes player safety. There is no in-between. 
It will be in the best interest of the NFL to seek this change, even if it requires a lockout. This pressing issue will never stop because of how dangerous football is. While we all love football, the people who make the sport happen have to come first. Tua's injury puts this problem in the spotlight, and players and fans will care more about it going forward.