Tua Tagovailoa admitted on Wednesday that he considered retirement after three concussions in the 2022 season, which would have made for a young exit after three seasons in the league.
The 25-year-old quarterback spoke publicly for the first time since the Dolphins fell to the Packers on Christmas Day, when he suffered a concussion after his head slammed on the ground after being tackled.
I was his second concussion in a month.
“Yeah, I think I considered it, you know, for a time, having sat down with my family, having sat down with my wife and having those kind of conversations,” Tagavaolia told reporters. “It would be hard for me to walk away from this game with how old I am and with my son. It’s my health. My body. I feel like this is what’s best for me.
“I always dreamed of playing as long as a could to the point where my son knew what he’s watching.”
In the event of his decision to stay in the NFL and with Miami picking up Tagovailoa’s fifth-year option last month for $23.2 million, he took up jiu-jitsu in the hopes of learning how to fall properly to protect his head in the future.
“It’s actually a lot cooler than you think, learning how to fall,” he said. “You continue to train it, work at that it becomes second nature.
“You think it’s easy. Just don’t fall and hit your head. We use crash pads to land on first. We’re trying to fall with tucking your chin … it’s about the technique to disburse your energy when you fall.”
Tagovailoa remains a white belt in the practice, but has learned a lot from it to prep him for the upcoming season — one that may contain just as many concussions across the league as the last.
In February, the NFL revealed stark concussion data from the 2022 season, which gave insights beyond Tagovailoa and prompted protocol changes in light of the quarterback’s injury-riddled season.
The number of evaluations per game increased over time, topping at an average of 1.6 per game, along with an increase — nearly twice as much — in medical timeouts from 2021 to 2022.
However, practice concussions decreased to an eight-year low at 25 because certain players wore Guardian Cap pads on their helmets and training camps adjusted their acclimation period.
Despite the uncertainty around Tagovailoa at the end of the season, two people were certain he would play again — his parents Galu and Diane — who revealed their son would return to the game during an event hosted by the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame.
“No, he comes back,” Galu told KHON2 News in Honolulu. “That’s their guy. They love him. We love them and what they’re doing and how they are helping with his recovery and trying to get him back.”
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