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On Tua Tagovailoa investigation, NFL and NFLPA agree to disagree on whether protocol was followed

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Nyheim Hines’ concussion against the Broncos leads Mike Florio and Peter King to discuss the disagreement between the NFL and NFLPA on how the Tua Tagovailoa situation was handled.

On Thursday night, NFL Players Association Executive Committee member Richard Sherman declared that the union believes the concussion protocol was followed in the Tua Tagovailoa situation, on September 25.

Fewer than 48 hours later, the NFL and NFLPA issued a statement that seems to conflict with this position. The union separately insists, per a source with knowledge of the NFLPA’s thinking, that it does not.

In the same statement in which the league and the union agree that the concussion protocol will be revised moving forward, the NFL and the NFLPA agreed that the protocol was followed in Tua’s case, but that “the outcome in this case was not what was intended when the Protocol was drafted.”

So, basically, they followed the directions on the box for baking a cake, but the end result was not a cake. Which essentially means they didn’t really follow the directions.

And they didn’t. From the joint statement, regarding the claim by Tua that his instability was the result of a back injury: “They concluded the player’s back injury was the cause of his observed instability. However, the team physician and UNC did not conduct an examination of Mr. Tagovailoa’s back during the concussion examination, but instead relied on the earlier examination conducted by other members of the medical staff.”

As reported on Sunday, the union intended to ask Tua that very question. When you told the doctors it was a back injury, did they examine your back? They didn’t. They just took his word for it.

From the union’s perspective, that shows a clear violation of the protocol.

It’s unclear why the NFLPA would agree to a statement that potentially would create the impression that the protocol was followed. Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the union absolutely does not agree that the protocol was followed -- only that boxes were checked, and that a meaningful examination was not provided to Tagovailoa.

The NFL, in a conference call conducted late Saturday afternoon, insisted that the protocol was indeed followed.

So while the two parties agreed to the language of their joint statement, they seem to agree to disagree on whether the protocol truly was followed.

The fact that the doctors didn’t examine Tua’s back but simply took the word of a potentially concussed player who claimed he wobbled and nearly fell due to a back injury points to a failure of the protocol. They may have checked the box, but they checked it incorrectly.

That’s why, to use the example from above, the cake isn’t a cake. They claim they added eggs, but they didn’t really add eggs.