Tua Tagovailoa has revealed that he considered retiring from the NFL due to fears of the lasting impact of sustaining multiple concussions. However, he has announced his intention to continue his career amid promising advice from medical experts indicating that he is not at a higher-risk of getting a concussion of CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy) due to his past injury history.
The Miami Dolphins quarterback, who was sidelined for multiple games during the 2022-23 NFL season following confirmed and suspected head injuries, spoke with reporters on Wednesday (April 19) about mulling over the decision.
“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,” Tagovailoa told the media. “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 growing — 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].”
The former Alabama quarterback and No. 4 overall NFL draft pick also spoke of the preventative measures he’s begun to take to mitigate his chances of additional head injuries, which includes training in jiu-jitsu. He says that the martial art has taught him how to properly fall, as well as other skills he feels will benefit him on the field.
“Learned some grappling techniques. Learned some other things too that I don’t think I should disclose. But for the most part, learned how to fall,” he said. “You think it’s easy. Just don’t fall and hit your head. But [there’s] a lot more to it … We barely get hit throughout practices until the season starts. 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.”
Tagovailoa enjoyed a breakout season last year, leading the Dolphins to one of the hottest starts by a team in the NFL and putting together highlight-reel performances that quieted whispers of him being a possible bust. However, the undersized signal-caller’s year was placed in the NFL’s concussion protocol program twice during the season after getting hit by defenders on separate occasions, including once during a national television game that gave fans, viewers, and pundits cause for concern.
Despite the injuries, which caused Tagovailoa to miss four games during the regular season, the Dolphins posted a winning record of 9-8 and earned a playoff berth. However, Miami would lose to AFC East divisional rivals Buffalo Bills in the Wild Card round of the playoffs, a game Tagovailoa did not play in, due to concussion protocol restrictions.