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"The person who is punished here is Tua": Concussion expert says the Miami Dolphins failed to protect their injured quarterback

It started as a normal play during Thursday night's football game against the Miami Dolphins and Cincinnati Bengals. With just about five minutes till halftime, Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was looking to make a game-changing move when he was sacked and thrown to the ground. 

Quarterbacks are often taken down by players on the opposite team, but they almost always get up —Tagovailoa did not.  

Instead, he stayed on the ground in visible pain with his fingers clenched up in front of his helmet. His teammates and coaches surrounded him as he was stabilized on a stretcher and carted off the field. For seven minutes, players, fans at Paycor Stadium and millions across the country watched in horror. 

The 24-year-old was taken to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center for further evaluation after sustaining head and neck injuries. It was later announced that Tagovailoa was conscious and had movement in all his extremities. 

The game continued after Tagovailoa was taken off the field but it no longer mattered who won — instead questions of why Tagovailoa was allowed to play in Thursday's game took over social media.

Tua Tagovailoa
Medical staff tends to quarterback Tua Tagovailoa of the Miami Dolphins after an injury during a game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paycor Stadium on Sept. 29, 2022, in Cincinnati, Ohio. Getty Images

Tagovailoa was suffering from a sore back and was listed as questionable for most of the week ahead of the game after he was hurt during last Sunday's 21-19 victory over the Buffalo Bills. 

While the quarterback said it was a back injury, he was seen shaking his head and immediately stumbled to the ground before being held up by a teammate. 

He returned in the second half that Sunday after the Dolphins say he passed concussion protocol. 

Last Sunday's incident prompted the NFL and National Football League Players Association to jointly review the extent of his injuries and if the Dolphins followed proper concussion protocol last Sunday.  

"Ninety-nine point nine percent of the time that player is ruled out of the game without even thinking," CEO of the Concussion Legacy Foundation Chris Nowinski told "CBS Mornings" co-host Nate Burleson. 

Nowinski, a neuroscientist, said that the Dolphins put Tagovailoa's life in danger and failed to protect him. 

"This is a failure by everybody. This is a failure by the medical team. This is a failure by the independent medical team on Sunday. This is a failure by the coaching staff. The problem is all these failures, none of them are going to be punished. The person who is punished here is Tua," Nowinski said. 

The results of the joint investigation between the NFL and the NFLPA have not yet been released but Miami Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel is adamant that the Dolphins followed proper protocols last Sunday. 

"If there's any sort of inclination that someone has a concussion, they go into concussion protocol, and it's very strict. As long as I'm the head coach that will never be an issue that you guys have to worry about," McDaniel said.  

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