Eagles

Tua Tagovailoa training in judo to reduce concussions

Eagles
Tua Tagovailoa

Tua Tagovailoa is taking a new approach to reducing the number of concussions he suffers on the field.

The Miami Dolphins quarterback is taking lessons in martial arts.

The 24-year-old Tagovailoa suffered multiple head injuries last season that were caused by his helmet striking the ground while sustaining a hit. In an attempt to minimize the impact of such hits and limit injury, Tagovailoa is dedicating one day a week to train in Judo so he can learn how best to take a fall without hitting his head on the turf. 

"We've got a plan set up," explained on "Up & Adams" during Super Bowl Radio Row. "I'll be doing judo on Fridays just so that I can kind of figure out understanding my body and how to fall," Tagovailoa said. "I'm not trying to be a dangerous person in that way, just trying to help myself."

Falling techniques are a common practice in judo, where opponents are regularly taken down to the mat.

While unorthodox for football, it could be an effective measure for Tagovailoa, who suffered two confirmed concussions last season and missed five games, including the Dolphins' postseason loss to the Buffalo Bills.

He was removed from the field on a stretcher during the Dolphins' Week 4 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals and missed two games with a concussion. His season came to an end on Christmas Day against the Green Bay Packers when he suffered a second concussion and spent the remainder of the season in league protocols. 

 

An incident involving Tagovailoa earlier in the season also led to the NFL modifying its concussion protocols in season. Tagovailoa fell to the turf and hit his head on the ground after a late push by Bills' linebacker Matt Milano during a Week 3 matchup in September. He got back to his feet but was visibly unsteady as he attempted to move forward, forcing the Dolphins to remove him from the game. He was later cleared to return to the game, a decision that caused backlash and prompted an investigation by the NFLPA.   

The NFLPA later terminated the unaffiliated neurotrauma consultant that was involved in Tagovailoa's concussion check against the Bills. On Oct. 8, the NFL and NFLPA announced an agreement to modify the protocols. The diagnosis of ataxia - an abnormality of balance/stability, motor coordination or dysfunctional speech caused by a neurological issue - was added to the mandatory "no-go" symptoms that determine whether or not a player can re-enter a game.

He missed two games after sustaining a concussion during Miami's loss to the Bengals in Week 4 and was taken off the field on a stretcher that night. His second confirmed concussion happened against the Packers on Christmas Day -- which ultimately ended his season as he stayed in concussion protocol until early February.

There was also an incident in September against the Buffalo Bills in which Tagovailoa was visibly wobbly and struggled to stay on his feet following a late push by linebacker Matt Milano in the first half. Tagovailoa initially left the field but ended up returning later in the game after clearing concussion protocol.