Tagovailoa, who was taken off the field on a stretcher after a big hit by Cincinnati Bengals defensive lineman Josh Tupou, was eventually released from a local hospital and flew home with the Miami Dolphins on Thursday night. But Harbaugh still left feeling some type of way after the scary tackle that occurred just five days after Tagovailoa was forced to leave a Week 3 game with another head-related injury.
"Like most people, I couldn't believe what I saw last night. I couldn't believe what I saw last Sunday," Harbaugh said Friday. "It was just something that was astonishing to see. I've been coaching for 40 years now — college and NFL, almost 40 — and I've never seen anything like it before. It was just really something that, you know, I just couldn't believe what I was seeing."
Asked about concussions, John Harbaugh said he was “astonished” by what he saw last night w/ Tua… And he couldn’t believe what he saw last week either pic.twitter.com/3wkzrGXUbJ
— Kimberley A. Martin (@ByKimberleyA) September 30, 2022
Harbaugh wasn't the only person to feel uncomfortable after the play. Former NFL tight end Tony Gonzalez and former quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who were both on the set of Amazon Prime Video's broadcast on Thursday in Cincinnati, sounded rattled by the play.
"I've never seen anything like that, the way the hands went," Gonzalez said, referencing how Tagovailoa's fingers locked up after he hit the ground.
"We've all played a lot of football and that's one of the toughest scenes I think I've ever seen," Fitzpatrick added.
Tests on Friday revealed Tagovailoa suffered no broken bones or fractures following the injury, according to the Miami Herald. He also underwent an MRI on Friday afternoon.
Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel said Friday that he sat next to Tagovailoa during the flight back to Miami and watched a movie. He added that he decided to play Tagovailoa on Thursday because "there was no medical indication from all resources that there was anything regarding the head. If there would have been, of course, anything lingering with his head, I wouldn't have been able to live with myself."
NFLPA investigation continues
Prior to Thursday night's game, the NFL Player's Association had reportedly already opened up an investigation into how Tagovailoa was cleared to return to the field in Week 3 against the Buffalo Bills after leaving with an injury.
NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith reportedly texted Andrew Whitworth and Richard Sherman, two former union reps who were also at the game for Amazon Prime Video, after the game that the NFLPA "will pursue every legal option, including making referrals against the doctors to licensing agencies and the team that is obligated to keep our players safe."
NFL chief medical officer Allen Sills said that the results of the investigation will be released to the public and that Tagovailoa was checked for a concussion every day since Sunday.
Our interview with NFL CMO Dr. Allen Sills on why Tua Tagovailoa was allowed to fly home, what happened last Sunday and on the subsequent concussion checks during the week, and on whether the concussion protocol could be changed as a result. pic.twitter.com/Q5N9TLBYgt
— Judy Battista (@judybattista) September 30, 2022