Tua Tagovailoa has finally cleared the NFL's concussion protocol more than a month after entering it.
NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported Wednesday the Miami Dolphins quarterback cleared the protocol, adding that he met with several medical professionals who are confident that he will be 100% "when the time comes for football."
The definition of that "football" is somewhat hazy, but it hopefully means April 17, when the Dolphins are scheduled to begin their offseason workout program.
#Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa has cleared the NFL’s concussion protocol, sources say. He met with several medical professionals in the process. They are confident he’ll be 100% when the time comes for football.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) February 1, 2023
Tagovailoa had been in the protocol since sustaining a concussion in Week 16 against the Green Bay Packers on Dec. 25. The Dolphins were left to start Teddy Bridgewater and then Skylar Thompson for the rest of the season, including their wild-card playoff loss to the Buffalo Bills.
The long timeline in the protocol was reported last Friday to be a deliberate effort to meet with multiple doctors and specialists while prioritizing Tagovailoa's long-term health.
Tua Tagovailoa had multiple significant head injuries this season
Whenever Tagovailoa is actually able to return, it's concerning it took 38 days for him to even get out of the concussion protocol, especially considering the season he had last year.
A football player's concussion history gets significantly more concerning with every additional head injury, however minor, and Tagovailoa certainly added plenty to his ledger this season. In Week 4, he was carried off the field on a stretcher and hospitalized after a hard hit against the Cincinnati Bengals. The immediate scene of that injury, limp on the ground with an apparent fencing response, was so disturbing that the league ended up changing the rules of the concussion protocol.
Another reason for the change was that he had left the previous game against the Bills after his head bounced on the turf. The Dolphins claimed the issue was a back injury at the time, eventually leading to an NFLPA investigation.
Then came the head injury against the Packers a couple months later, and that meant the end of Tagovailoa's season. His parents insisted last week he will continue his career next season, but that really might not be up to them or even their son.