The unaffiliated neurotrauma consultant (UNC) that cleared Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa to return to last Sunday’s game against the Buffalo Bills has been let go. ESPN reports that “multiple sources” claim the consultant made “several mistakes” when evaluating the QB.
Tagovailoa left Sunday’s game after slamming the back of his head on the ground. He had a hard time getting to his feet and fell after taking several steps. He was taken to the locker room to be evaluated, and it was decided between the team doctor and the UNC that he could return to the game.
The quarterback sustained a second head injury just four days later. He was carried off the field on a stretcher during Thursday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals.
An investigation into Tagovailoa’s quick return is pending. Still, the player’s union decided not to wait for the outcome to cut ties with the UNC. The NFL Players Association decided to part ways with the consultant stating that Tagovailoa’s impairment was evident and he should not have been cleared to return.
One source said that the outside doctor, who was approved by the NFL and the union, was removed for concussion protocol violations. The doctor gave an initial diagnosis that Tagovailoa did not have a concussion.
A joint statement was released by the union and the league on Saturday.
“The NFL and the NFLPA agree that The NFLPA’s Mackey-White Health & Safety Committee and the NFL’s Head Neck and Spine Committee have already begun conversations around the use of the term ‘Gross Motor Instability’ and we anticipate changes to the protocol being made in the coming days based on what has been learned thus far in the review process,” the statement read.
“The NFL and NFLPA share a strong appreciation for the unaffiliated neurotrauma consultants who contribute their time and expertise to our game solely to advance player safety. This program has made our game safer for the athletes who play it for the past twelve seasons.”
Shortly after announcing the UNC’s dismissal, the union said it was working on modifying the league’s concussion protocol. The union indicated the changes could come within days.
The review is expected to take at least another week or two, and the NFL expects to release the results “almost immediately after,” according to ESPN.
Tagovailoa remains on concussion protocol, and there is no timetable for when he might return to the field.