32 things we learned from Week 4 of 2022 NFL season: Concussion crisis overshadows on-field drama


The 32 things we learned from Week 4 of the 2022 NFL season:

1. The league’s concussion protocol – it’s issue No. 1 hanging over this season. No. 1 also happens to be the jersey number of Miami Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa, who was in obvious peril – at least to any casual observer, and most certainly to current and former NFL players who were watching – after his head snapped into the ground twice in a five-day stretch spanning Weeks 3 and 4. Tagovailoa and the Dolphins blamed a back injury on the first incident against the Buffalo Bills, which left him staggering back to the huddle before temporarily leaving the game. The NFL Players Association initiated an investigation into Tagovailoa’s treatment – the case remains open – but the union has already fired the unaffiliated neurotrauma consultant who helped treat the quarterback Sept. 25. Since Tagovailoa was cleared that day, he was not placed in concussion protocol in the days leading up to Thursday’s game in Cincinnati, when he suffered a vicious sack against the Bengals which left no doubt about his condition – the third-year quarterback left in a fencing position on his back before being carted off the field and to a local hospital. Saturday, the league and union released a joint statement, which read in part: “The NFL and the NFLPA agree that modifications to the Concussion Protocol are needed to enhance player safety. … We anticipate changes to the protocol being made in the coming days based on what has been learned thus far in the review process.”

Bengals DT Josh Tupou (68) sacks Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa on Thursday, leaving him concussed and sending the third-year passer to a local hospital.

1a. The upside is that the NFL and NFLPA acknowledge the process isn’t working, and that a better resolution need not be delayed by two sides that are so often bitterly divided on collectively bargained issues. Thank goodness they’re expeditiously working toward what should be a common goal.

1b. The downside is the obvious price paid by Tagovailoa, who wasn’t sufficiently protected by medical professionals nor, apparently, his team – rookie coach Mike McDaniel’s protests to the contrary notwithstanding – which clearly cast caution to the wind by allowing him to play Thursday despite the frightening episode from the previous game.


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