Experts Challenge QB's View of His Risk for CTE

Miami's Tua Tagovailoa, cleared to play Sunday, suggests quarterbacks are at less risk
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 20, 2022 11:57 AM CDT
Experts Challenge QB's View of His Risk for CTE
Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.   (AP Photo/Jeff Dean)

Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa has been hammered with big hits in his last two games—including a headline-making concussion on Sept. 29—and he's hoping to break the streak on Sunday. The NFL has cleared Tagovailoa to play this weekend, reports ESPN. The 24-year-old spoke for the first time on Wednesday about suffering that concussion (after sustaining an apparent head injury only four days earlier in a different game), though much is fuzzy:

  • "There was a point I was unconscious," he said, per the Athletic. "I remember the entire night up until the point I got tackled. I don't remember being carted off. I do remember some things from the ambulance and the hospital."

Tagovailoa also said doctors have told him that he, and all quarterbacks, are less likely than other football players to suffer chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) because they don't hit or get hit on every play. "And that's kind of some of the information that I've been given from a lot of these doctors that are the best of the best in their field," he added, per TMZ. To which Chris Nowinski of the Concussion Legacy Foundation says: wrong. The "vast majority" of quarterbacks studied have had CTE, he tweeted.

"What he was told is a popular myth that is not backed by evidence," adds Nowinski. "It's not just repetition of hits—the magnitude of the impacts matter too." Referring to the hit that knocked out Tagovailoa, he wrote, "How often do you see offensive lineman take head impacts like this?" Meanwhile, TMZ notes that renowned CTE expert Dr. Bennet Omalu maintains the QB "suffered severe, long-term permanent brain damage" from that hit, and he recommends that Tagovailoa retire. (Read more concussions stories.)

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