Neuroscientist Dr Chris Nowinski called for the NFL team’s coaches and medical staff to be fired and said that they should “go to jail” in a series of furious social media posts on Thursday.
Dr Nowinski, who founded Concussion Legacy Foundation, warned that “two concussions in 5 days can kill someone” as he pointed out that he warned Tagovailoa could come to serious harm if he played on Thursday night.
“This is a disaster. Pray for Tua. Fire the medical staffs and coaches,” he tweeted.
“I predicted this and I hate that I am right. Two concussions in 5 days can kill someone. This can end careers. How are we so stupid in 2022.”
In a since-deleted tweet, he added: “You guys should go to jail for letting him play 5 days after an obvious concussion you covered up. If he dies from second-impact syndrome, I’m pushing form [sic] murder charges.”
During the Dolphins’ second quarter of a game against the Cincinnati Bengals on Thursday night, Tagovailoa was taken off the field on a stretcher with head and neck injuries.
Graphic footage of the game shows the quarterback being slammed by Bengals defensive lineman Josh Tupou and striking his head on the ground.
He then lay motionless on the ground with his hands rigidly curling up in the air.
Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel later confirmed that Tagovailoa had suffered a concussion – a traumatic brain injury caused by a blow to the head – and was taken to hospital.
The team later posted an update on Twitter, saying that he was expected to be discharged from the University of Cincinnati Medical Center to fly home with the team that night.
The incident on the field came just five days after Tagovailoa slammed his head on the ground during a game against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.
This is a disaster. Pray for Tua. Fire the medical staffs and coaches. I predicted this and I hate that I am right. Two concussions in 5 days can kill someone. This can end careers. How are we so stupid in 2022. pic.twitter.com/D8S8eEbgda
— Chris Nowinski, Ph.D. (@ChrisNowinski1) September 30, 2022
When the quarterback took a hit during Sunday’s game, the Dolphins said that he had a hyperextended back injury – not a head injury.
But footage from the game shows him bashing his helmet backwards on the turf.
When he then got up from the ground and tried to run, he stumbled and lost his balance, falling to the turf again.
Tagovailoa was checked for a concussion but was cleared before being sent back out to play the third quarter.
Following Sunday’s incident, Dr Nowinski gave a foreboding warning about the risks of Tagovailoa playing again on Thursday.
“If Tua takes the field tonight, it’s a massive step back for #concussion care in the NFL,” he tweeted.
“If he has a 2nd concussion that destroys his season or career, everyone involved will be sued & should lose their jobs, coaches included. We all saw it, even they must know this isn’t right.”
His prediction appeared to come true on Thursday, when the quarterback was injured on the field for a second time in less than a week.
“I take no pleasure in being right. Pray for Tua. We saw this coming. Get angry. Get involved with @ConcussionLF to make sure the @NFL can’t do this again,” the expert tweeted, sharing his original post.
Former NFL players also waded into the issue on social media, questioning why Tagovailoa was sent to play another game so soon after his injury on Sunday.
Robert Griffin III, former quarterback for the Washington Redskins, said that the Dolphins “will have to answer” for their decision.
“Tua 4 days ago. The Dolphins will have to answer for this,” he tweeted, sharing a clip of Sunday’s game.
“The bottom line regarding Tua is LIFE is bigger than football. Teams should always put the person before the player. Health before competitive advantage,” he added in a follow-up tweet.
“Putting Tua out there isn’t just a player safety issue. It’s a quality of life issue.”
The bottom line regarding Tua is LIFE is bigger than football. Teams should always put the person before the player. Health before competitive advantage.
Putting Tua out there isn’t just a player safety issue. It’s a quality of life issue.
— Robert Griffin III (@RGIII) September 30, 2022
Former NFL offensive lineman Rich Ohrnberger said that Tagovailoa’s experience made him feel more “thankful” for the way his team handled his concussion during his career.
“Very thankful today for the Patriots’ trainers/medical staff for the way they handled my concussion in 2011,” he tweeted.
“I was out on my feet, they took it seriously, and I spent the year on IR. They saved me from myself. I would’ve rushed back if they let me. They didn’t. Prayers for Tua.”
The National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) had already launched an investigation into the handling of Sunday’s apparent head injury.
On Thursday, the NFLPA said in a statement that the probe was “ongoing” and that player health and safety was at the “core” of its mission.
Speaking after the game, Mr McDaniel defended the Dolphins’ decision to play Tagovailoa and denied there was anything they should have done differently after Sunday’s incident.