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All eyes will be on Tua Tagovailoa tonight

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Sometimes in the NFL, circumstances come together to create a moment of intense interest for reasons unrelated to the competition between the teams on the field.

Today, Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa continues to play football after a horrific moment in Cincinnati 24 days ago when she passed out after hitting her head on grass. Finally he went to a stretcher.

Tua’s comeback takes place in prime time. Open Sunday Night Football. against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

What makes the situation worse is that the injury occurred four days after Tua returned to the game, despite her showing clear signs of what the revised concussion protocol now officially calls “ataxia.” After an investigation, the NFL and the NFL Players Association disagreed over whether protocol was being followed, with a carefully worded statement allowing the league to claim everything was fine and the union to claim things were going wrong.

Regardless of whether Tua suffered anything other than a back injury on September 25, the protocol was changed to ensure that there would be no future situation that everyone believes except the doctors and the player. The player should not play.

While Tua doesn’t prefer to be the face of the growing vulnerability to head injuries (and to Maria Taylor Football Night in America name has nothing to do with the addition of the new rule), it’s impossible not to think of Tua when thinking of concussions right now, and it’s impossible not to think of concussion when thinking of Tua right now.

Given that he’s absorbed the contact that caused his head to fall to the ground two games in a row, everyone will be watching to see if it will happen again tonight, and if so, how he looks at this event. Indeed, some people will go into the game with no interest in the action, except to see if Tua has had another actual or potential concussion.

Is this right or wrong? Not important. It will. The natural and organic drama of the situation will appeal to rubber-necked people. Most people connect this way.

The most pressing question is whether it can protect itself against the kind of contact that could cause its head to hit the grass again. This means, among other things, developing a willingness to throw the ball instead of waiting for a receiver to open.

“I’ve always been someone who tries to make things happen,” Tua told reporters earlier this week. “It’s like that’s always been my mentality. Throwing the ball hasn’t been something I’ve been very good at in the past because I try to play. So I just learn something from that – if it’s not there, it’s okay to throw it. It’s a long time before I can be the quarterback for this team and not try to create something out of nothing. It’s lived on.”

We’ll see if he can do this setting when he’s in the middle of the fight. If he can’t, another possible risk of head injury will intensify. It’s fair to wonder how many more concussions he may have before the doctors or his family can definitively intervene.

“It was a little difficult for my family,” Tua told Maria Taylor. “My family – they had a lot to say to me before I got injured, then they went through the hospital and after that and then the interview process to see their second opinion doctor. For me, I love football.”

While he doesn’t come out and say it right away, it looks like he’s starting to get pressure from his family to consider not playing. This is an increasingly common question for players of all levels. And any parent who has endured the emotions that Tua’s family went through on September 29 in Cincinnati would more than wish never to experience that emotion again.

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