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Dolphins’ Tua responds to criticism from ESPN’s Ryan Clark: ‘I’d appreciate it if you kept my name out your mouth’

John McCall/South Florida Sun-Sentinel/TNS

MIAMI GARDENS — Salty Tua, Spicy Tua, whatever you want to call him, he came out Wednesday.

Tua Tagovailoa was the subject of criticism from ESPN analyst Ryan Clark over his offseason weight training in comments toward the Miami Dolphins quarterback Monday.

After Wednesday’s practice, Tagovailoa responded, and he snapped back at Clark.

First, what Clark said on ESPN’s “NFL Live” this week: “I can tell you what he wasn’t doing. He wasn’t in the gym. I’ll bet you that. He might’ve spent a lot of time at the tattoo parlor. He was not at the dinner table eating what the nutritionist had advised. He looks happy. He is thick. He’s built like girls (that) work at Onyx (Gentlemen’s Club) in Atlanta right now.”

Tagovailoa worked his response to Clark’s body-shaming up over more than a minute, eventually peaking with a final stance: “I’d appreciate it if you kept my name out your mouth.”

Earlier, he also said, “If we need to get scrappy, we can get scrappy too.”

Tagovailoa started by replying “Who?” when Clark’s name was first brought up in the question and quipped, “He probably knows more about me than I know about myself.

“I don’t know. Ryan’s been out the league for some time.

“It’s a little weird when other people are talking about other people, and they’re not that person.”

Tagovailoa pointed toward his heritage, and how, in his culture, people treat one another with respect.

“I come from a Samoan family,” he said. “Respect is everything, but it does get to a point where, ‘Hey, a little easy on that buddy.’ Because I think we’re pretty tough-minded people.”

That’s when he brought up that he and his people can get scrappy if the situation calls for it.

Tagovailoa went through an entire offseason where he worked on his body to better withstand the hits that come with playing quarterback in the NFL following multiple concussions in 2022 that caused him to miss 5 1/2 games.

He worked on strength training to build muscle, did weekly jiu-jitsu workouts to learn how to put himself in better positions when he falls to the ground and changed helmets to one that should help prevent concussions. Amid the strength training, Tagovailoa added weight.

“I’m not someone to talk about myself the entire time, but it takes a lot,” Tagovailoa said. “You think I wanted to build all this muscle? Like, nah. 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.”

Adding another ironic twist, Clark, who was a defensive back in the league from 2002 to 2014, once tweeted last year, “I think it’s stupid that players and coaches have to answer questions about what an analyst says on TV!”

Clark pulled that tweet back up Wednesday, adding “Still feel the exact same!!”

This story will be updated.