Nick Saban concerned about Tua Tagovailoa’s concussions, ‘hates’ how they have impacted his former QB’s career End-shutdown

Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa had the entire NFL world worried following his concussion in Week 4 against the Cincinnati Bengals, as well as his absence in the last three games of the 2022 season thanks to another concussion suffered on Christmas Day against the Green Bay Packers. Both incidents have called into question the safety of Tagovailoa to continue playing football.

So much so that his collegiate head coach, Alabama’s Nick Saban, addressed the issue Wednesday. Saban has said in the past that he doesn’t have time to watch his former players perform in the NFL on Sundays because he’s buried at work preparing for the next Crimson Tide football game. For Saban, mentioning Tagovailoa’s struggles likely means it’s a major deal for the legendary head coach.

“I hate that he has these issues and problems,” Saban said in Stephen A. Smith’s “knows mercy” podcast. “I would trust the medical staff to make the right decisions for your safety, your future. I would love to see him continue to be able to play and succeed, but I also don’t want him to put himself at risk. I think anytime guys start having multiple concussions, it’s cause for concern. But then again, I think it has to be a kind of ‘How concerning is it?’ It’s a medical question that needs to be answered by some people who are experts in that field.”

Tagovailoa has missed eight games in the past two NFL seasons, with his Alabama career ending early due to a hip injury against Mississippi State in November 2019.

“He struggled a bit here with some injuries: a couple of ankle injuries, obviously the hip injury that he worked hard to overcome,” Saban said. “I love Tua. She’s a great person. I love telling the story, if you ask Tua, ‘How are you today?’ The only player I’ve ever coached who was like, ‘Great, Coach. Thanks for asking.’”

Tagovailoa had the best year of his pro career in 2022 under first-year head coach Mike McDaniel, leading the NFL in passer rating (105.5) and yards per pass attempt (8.9). In an attempt to limit concussions, Tagovailoa is resuming martial arts training this offseason with the goal of falling more safely. Naturally, his injury history has given the Dolphins pause when considering whether or not to take his fully guaranteed fifth-year option. The deadline to do so is May 1.

“I can’t lie and say no,” Miami Dolphins GM Chris Grier saying this offseason when asked how Tagovailoa’s health affects future contract decisions. “But it’s not something that makes us afraid to do something long-term with him. The only thing he’s had — he’s been banged up, but he always comes back and bounces back and plays hard and performs, so [we’re] excited about his future. Enthusiastic [from] to see him put in all the work he’s been doing in the offseason right now to get ready for 2023, and he’s very excited to be back on the field with his teammates.”

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