Tua Tagovailoa 'thankful' to Dolphins for long protocol stint

Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa shed light on his 36-dayslong stay in concussion protocol, admitting it was by design.

Speaking to USA Today, Tagovailoa said the Dolphins effectively shut him down after he was placed into concussion protocol Dec. 26 for the second time last season. He missed Miami's final three games of the season, including its playoff loss to the Buffalo Bills.

"For concussion protocol, I think the team did me the biggest service throughout that," Tagovailoa said. "They never allowed me to go through protocol normally until the season was done. So that's why it might have seemed like it took forever, but they were just protecting me from myself. And me and my family are very thankful to the Dolphins.

"But it really entailed a lot of exertion, so like running, ocular and vestibular movements, so like balance, proprioception -- things like that. Having went to see a doctor in Pittsburgh, got clear from him and then had to do written test, memorization."

The third-year quarterback was diagnosed with two separate concussions during an otherwise career-best season for him, limiting him to just 12 games. He hit the back of his head on the ground on both occasions.

Tagovailoa said he will practice judo in the offseason in an effort to understand his body better and learn to fall in a more controlled manner. He told Yahoo! that he is tired of being asked about his concussions, although he understands where people are coming from.

"For one, people haven't heard from me in however long after the incident, and I would say another thing is some people are actually genuinely worried about my health," he said. "I hear people telling my ... people that are in my close circle, like, 'Hey, you should retire, hey you should do this.' And I feel like I've heard it all.

"But I think I've had all the information that I need to move forward with the decision that I made with me and my wife and my family, and understanding that you're playing this sport, and understanding and knowing the precautions that these things can happen. It's football, it's a physical sport."

Dolphins general manager Chris Grier and head coach Mike McDaniel said Tagovailoa will be the team's starting quarterback in 2023. Grier said based on what they've been told by doctors and specialists, the Dolphins don't believe Tagovailoa's recent concussion will leave him more susceptible to them in the future.

The Dolphins face a May 1 deadline to decide whether to exercise Tagovailoa's fifth-year option; no decision has been announced, but Grier told reporters in January that "everything is on the table."