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The investigation over Tua Tagovailoa re-entering Sunday’s game becomes much more important

Mike Florio and Myles Simmons discuss Tua Tagovailoa's return to the field in Week 3 after he struggled to regain his balance following a heavy hit against the Buffalo Bills.

Like most everyone reading this, I keep watching the game between the Dolphins and Bengals. But I’m far less focused on the action and far more interested in knowing whether Miami quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is OK.

It’s great to hear -- repeatedly -- that he has movement in all extremities. But that only means he doesn’t have a neck injury. It doesn’t say anything about the injury to his brain.

Given the possibility that he suffered an injury to his brain on Sunday against the Bills, it’s possible that he has suffered two brain injuries, four days apart.

And that possibility raises the stakes, dramatically, as to the ongoing investigation regarding the decision to allow Tua to re-enter the game on Sunday, despite exhibiting what the league calls “gross motor instability” in the concussion protocol. It’s not known how or why the team physician and the Unaffiliated Neurotrauma Consultant decided that the instability did not have a neurological cause. The NFL and the NFL Players Association already had commenced a review of that decision, at the behest of the union.

Now, that eventual determination hovers over the fact that Tua suffered an apparently severe concussion on Thursday night.

If he’d been held out of Sunday’s game and placed in the concussion protocol, would he have been cleared to play tonight, only four days after entering the protocol? If the goal is to exercise prudence and caution regarding the brains of the men who play the game, it’s hard to imagine clearance coming so quickly -- no matter how many cognitive tests he could have passed.

As explained over the weekend, we all saw it. We knew what we saw. The return of Tua to the game defied our collective common sense. And if he shouldn’t have been playing on Sunday, he probably wouldn’t have been playing tonight.

Here’s hoping that the injury that happened tonight doesn’t influence the investigation, one way or the other. But the stakes are raised considerably. The possibility of internal politics, P.R., and labor-management relations nudging the investigation one way or the other must be acknowledged -- and completely ignored when sifting through the evidence. All parties need to be committed to getting to the truth, no matter the potential consequences.