Friday, June 2 2023

Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagavailoa said Wednesday that “for a time” he considered retiring after he suffered two documented concussions.

The QB missed five full games last season, including the team’s lone postseason appearance, a loss to the Buffalo Bills. Tagovailoa also missed parts of three separate games due to concussion checks. In two cases (in Week 4 and Week 15), the team’s medical staff pulled him with a concussion. In another case in Week 3, Tagovailoa reentered the game, which spurred an NFL investigation that eventually found no wrongdoing by Miami’s medical staff.

The 25-year-old QB was asked during a press conference whether he might walk away from the game.

“Yeah, I think I considered it for a time, having sat down with my family, having sat down with my wife and having those kind of conversations,” Tagovailoa said Wednesday. “Really, it would be hard for me to walk away from this game with how old I am, with my son. 

“I always dreamed of playing as long 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 this is what’s best for me and my family. I love the game of football. If I didn’t, I would have quite a long time [ago].”

In recent years, we’ve seen high-profile players retire due to injuries, like former Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, or due to concussions, like 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 lessen the intensity of impact with the ground upon falling. It remains to be seen whether this training will help reduce the possibility of a concussion, but Tagovailoa — upon deciding to stick with the NFL — seems committed to exploring every option to preserve his health.


“We barely get hit throughout practices until the season starts,” Tua said. “With Jiu-Jitsu, I’ve been thrown airborne, I’ve been put in many uncomfortable positions for me to learn how to fall and try to react throughout those positions that I’m getting thrown around in.”

RELATED: Why Tua Tagovailoa is learning Jiu-Jitsu to help avoid concussions

Because the NFL has imposed rules to limit the amount of contact and hitting in practices, the players don’t deal with heavy-collision hitting often. The quarterbacks, who wear red non-contact jerseys at practice, don’t get hit at all outside of games. So Jiu-Jitsu could introduce a type of training that Tagovailoa might otherwise not get.

The offseason has been a busy one for Tagovailoa. Not only is he engaging in rigorous recovery efforts for the concussions, 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 solidifies his future with the team for another year.

Right move for Dolphins to pick up Tua’s fifth-year option?

Emmanuel Acho, LeSean McCoy, Joy Taylor and Ric Bucher discuss the Dolphins picking up Tua Tagovailoa’s fifth-year option for the 2024 season.

General manager Chris Grier discussed what the team has done to work with Tagovailoa this offseason to ensure he recovers from the 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 met with specialists, too, and the people he met around the country — everyone felt comfortable with him health-wise. And so when those boxes were checked, we were fine and decided just to move on. I’m looking forward to him working and doing all the things he’s been doing in the offseason now to help him for 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 with coach Mike McDaniel, Tua and the Dolphins made the postseason. And given that the core of receivers — with Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle — will remain intact, the Dolphins should again be competitive in the AFC, so long as Tagovailoa stays healthy. 

Prior to joining FOX Sports as the 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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