Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa told ESPN NFL analyst Ryan Clark on Wednesday that “respect is everything” after he made unflattering comments about the 25-year-old’s offseason workout routine.
Clark, a 13-year NFL veteran, joked earlier this week on an episode of “NFL Live” that Tagovailoa looked like he had skipped the gym and that “he might spend a lot of time in the tattoo parlor. He was not at the dinner table eating what the nutritionist had advised.”
Tagovailoa was asked on Wednesday about how hard he worked in the offseason while speaking to reporters, to which he responded, “I think we all worked hard throughout the offseason. I’m not one to talk about myself the entire time, but I mean, it takes a lot,” Tagovailoa said.
“You think I wanted to build all this muscle? Like, to some extent I wanted to be a little lighter. There’s a mixture of things that people don’t understand, that people don’t know about, that are talked about that go behind the scenes.
“So, you know, I’d appreciate it if you kept my name out your mouth. That’s what I’d say.”
Tagovailoa, who is entering his fourth year in the league after getting drafted by Miami in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft out of Alabama, added he did not appreciate what Clark had to say about him.
“I mean, he probably knows more about me than I know about myself. I don’t know, Ryan’s been out of the league for some time,” Tagovailoa said. “I don’t know, it’s a little weird when people are talking about other people when they’re not that person. Just a little weird. I come from a Samoan family; respect is everything.
“But it does get to a point where, hey, you know, little easy on that, buddy. I think we’re pretty tough-minded people, and if we need to get scrappy, we can get scrappy too. Just saying.”
Clark said it was a joke but took full responsibility for his actions in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, on Tuesday.
“I 100% take accountability for it!! I said it!! I meant it!! It was a joke!! If asked why I said it by Tua I would tell him. I have 0 issues looking a man in the eye and telling my truth. I accept any consequence,” Clark wrote.
In a video posted on X on Thursday, Clark said he “genuinely apologized” for what he said was a joke and said he has reached out to Tagovailoa in an attempt to speak to the quarterback.
“When I decided to do TV I had 2 main priorities. 1. Respect all NFL players, coaches, executives and staff members. 2. Earn and keep the respect of those very same people,” Clark wrote in the caption of his post.
“Those priorities are important to me, and when I miss that mark, I have to hold myself accountable. This game is difficult. Players sacrifice so much to be a part of the 1%. I have a responsibility to those players to be thoughtful in the way I present my opinions of them. In joking about Tua Tagovailoa, I didn’t meet that responsibility.
“It was never my intention to question Tua’s work ethic or commitment to the game, but I’m also aware enough to know that intent doesn’t always match impact. How something is presented isn’t always how it’s received by everyone. I do my best to be honest when executing my job as well as being honest when I fall short. I fell short on Monday and, for that, I genuinely apologize.”
Tagovailoa made headlines last season after suffering multiple concussions causing him to miss five games.
The Dolphins exercised Tagovailoa’s fifth-year option on his rookie contract in March. He is contracted with the team through the 2024 season.
Tagovailoa will make a fully guaranteed $23.17 million for the 2024 season, according to the NFL.
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