Bennet Omalu, the famed neuropathologist who discovered Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) in former football players, has advised that Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa “stop playing” football after suffering a concussion last Thursday.
“Tua, my brother. I love you,” Omalu told TMZ. “I love you as much as I love my son. Stop playing. Stop. Hang your helmet and gallantly walk away.”
Tagovailoa was stretchered off the field in Miami’s loss to the Bengals on “Thursday Night Football” after the back of his head crashed into the ground following on a hit by Cincinnati nose tackle Josh Tupou.
The quarterback’s fingers flexed in a “fencing response,” and he remained on the field for nearly 10 minutes before he was carted off and subsequently hospitalized. It came just four days after he appeared wobbly after appearing to hit his head on the field against the Bills.Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (1) is carted off the field after an injury in a game against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sept. 29, 2022, at Paycor Stadium in Cincinnati, OH. Icon Sportswire via Getty ImagesDolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (1) during a game against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sept. 29, 2022, at Paycor Stadium in Cincinnati, OH. Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
“My advice to him is, look, it’s time,” Omalu said. “You’ve suffered severe, long-term permanent brain damage. He seized… If you love your life. If you love your family, you love your kids, if you have kids, it’s time to gallantly walk away. Go find something else to do.
“He should stop. Sometimes money is not more valuable than human life. $20 billion is not worth more than your brain.”
Omalu, who authored the 2018 book, “Brain Damage in Contact Sports,” was the first to identify CTE in the brains of deceased athletes and military veterans.
In December 2015, Sony Pictures produced and released a major Hollywood film titled “Concussion” on Bennet’s life and work. Will Smith played Dr. Omalu in the film.Dr. Bennet Omalu speaking at a briefing sponsored by Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) on Capitol Hill on January 12, 2016 in Washington, DC. Getty Images
Tagovailoa remains in the NFL’s concussion protocol and has already been ruled out for Sunday’s game against the Jets.
In a statement posted to Twitter on Friday, Tagovailoa said he is “feeling much better and focused on recovering” in order to return to action.
DeMaurice Smith, the executive director of the NFL Players Association, has vowed to pursue “every legal option” to investigate a potential protocol violation by the Dolphins concerning Tagovailoa.