Tua Tagovailoa will never be the same. The Miami Dolphins’ star quarterback now has brain damage. There was public outcry on Sunday after his head snapped back against the turf in the first half of their game against the Buffalo Bills. His walk off the field caused many to feel he should enter concussion protocol and be removed from the game. That didn’t happen. And to make matters worse, just four days later he’s playing against Cincinnati in what could very well be his last game. There was a huge failure of all those around Tua. There is too much concentration on winning, making money & fame, and denial. Tua is claiming to only have a headache at the moment, but what will his brain be like in a few or many years? Will the depression creep in? (Or anxiety, anger issues, irrational behavior, addictions, and more) What are we doing to our bright and talented athletes? We are making them gladiators for our personal and financial enjoyment.
Last night was a stark reminder of how little we’ve chosen to know about brain trauma in sports, and how gullible we can be when we want something. Our will to belong, to excel, to conquer, to win, always seems to eclipse our common sense. Sometimes the more we learn the less we seem to know about the brain. Even when we see it, we choose not to believe it.
For us, it’s all too clear. When you’ve lost someone to the ravages of repetitive head trauma you tend to notice these things, because for us it’s the same thing over and over again. Beautiful child, learns to play, loves the game, loves his team, wins consistently, gets that scholarship, excels in college, gets noticed, gets drafted, plays a bunch of seasons, success follows him wherever he goes, until it begins to decline. Perhaps the business falters, or the marriage, the pain killers lose their effectiveness, decisions no longer make sense, anger, isolation, and the slide from the brilliant light of those glory days declines into the darkness of depression often involving addiction, conflict, law enforcement, or worse.
Advocates for stasis have a field day! Protect our precious games at all costs. Tradition! Fund a ten year study. Make up more rules. Give them the best new helmets, pay them millions, hide the truth. Use uncertainty and misdirection. Inject those numbing agents. Tell them its your neck not your head, give them what they want. And warm up their replacements. The show must go on. After all…….
Mother, father, please keep your precious child out of collision sports. There are plenty of wonderful things they can excel at that don’t require impact.Their brains and lives are at stake. Learn more at StopCTE.org
Karen & Doug Zegel
Patrick Risha CTE Awareness Foundation