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Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagavailoa said Wednesday he considered retirement “for a while” after suffering two documented concussions.
The QB missed five full games last season, including the team’s only postseason appearance, a loss to the Buffalo Bills. Tagovailoa also missed parts of three separate games due to concussion checks. In two instances (Week 4 and Week 15), the team medical staff took him out with a concussion. In another case in Week 3, Tagovailoa re-entered the game, spurring an NFL investigation that ultimately found no wrongdoing by Miami’s medical staff.
The 25-year-old QB was asked during a press conference if he could leave the game.
“Yeah, I think I considered it for a while, I had sat down with my family, with my wife and had those kinds of conversations,” Tagovailoa said Wednesday. “Honestly, it would be hard for me to walk away from this game at the age I am, with my son.
“I always dreamed of playing as much as I could to where my son knew exactly what he was watching his dad do. Yeah, I mean it’s my health, it’s my body. I feel like that’s what’s best for me and my family. I love soccer, if I didn’t have enough time [ago].”
In recent years, we’ve seen high-profile players retire due to injury, such as former Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, or concussions, such as Commanders tight end Jordan Reed or former 49ers linebacker Chris Borland.
Tagovailoa has spent the offseason learning Jiu-Jitsu, a martial art that can help athletes learn to reduce the intensity of impact with the ground when falling. It remains to be seen if this training will help reduce the chance of a concussion, but Tagovailoa, in deciding to stay with the NFL, seems committed to exploring all options to preserve his health.
“They hardly hit us during practice until the season starts,” Tua said. “With Jiu-Jitsu, I’ve been thrown in the air, put in a lot of awkward positions so that I learn to fall and try to react in those positions that I’m in.”
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Because the NFL has imposed rules to limit the amount of contact and hits in practice, players don’t deal with hard collision hits as often. The quarterbacks, who wear a non-contact redshirt during practice, do not receive a hit outside of games. So Jiu-Jitsu could introduce a type of training that Tagovailoa couldn’t get otherwise.
It’s been a busy offseason for Tagovailoa. Not only is he engaging in rigorous concussion recovery efforts, but he also saw the Dolphins pick up the fifth-year option on his rookie contract. That ties the quarterback to Miami through the 2024 season and cements his future with the team for one more year.
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General manager Chris Grier talked about what the team has done to work with Tagovailoa this offseason to make sure he recovers from concussions.
“It was a lot of discussions with our doctors, with Tua, just formulating a plan,” Grier said Wednesday. “But I think once we talked to specialists, and he also met with specialists, and the people he met around the country, everybody felt comfortable with him health-wise. And so when those boxes were checked, we were fine and we just decided I’m looking forward to him working and doing all the things he’s been doing in the offseason now to help him next season.”
In 13 games in 2022, Tagovailoa completed 64.8% of his passes for 3,548 passing yards, 25 touchdowns and eight interceptions. In his first season under coach Mike McDaniel, Tua and the Dolphins made the postseason. And given that the receiving core, featuring Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle, will remain intact, the Dolphins should be competitive again in the AFC, as long as Tagovailoa stays healthy.
Prior to joining FOX Sports as an AFC East reporter, Henry McKenna spent seven years covering the Patriots for USA TODAY Sports Media Group and Boston Globe Media. Follow him on Twitter at @McKennAnalysis.
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