The controversy over Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa returning to last week's game against the Bills after suffering a back injury has led to a lot of discussion throughout the league. New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick is the latest to be added to the conversation.
Appearing on The Greg Hill Show, Belichick was asked if he's removed players from the game who showed visible impairment. He said that he has, though not recently, but likes to do a secondary check beyond purely medical to ensure that his players are alright.
“I’ve definitely done that before,” Belichick said, via NESN. “Oh, yeah. If I see a player that I think is not functioning properly, and for some reason it hasn’t been identified, then absolutely, I have done that. I would say not recently; those are things that have happened at other points in my career. But yeah, absolutely.
“If a player doesn’t look like he’s functioning properly, we evaluate him with the medical people, but we also, as a secondary check, even if the medical people were to clear a player, we still go through a coaching clearance to make sure that he’s ready to play football, not just medically cleared. We always have a secondary evaluation on that.”
The issue at hand for the Miami Dolphins are whether they should have exercised an abundance of caution rather than let Tua Tagovailoa return to last week's game against the Bills and risk further injury, and whether the team properly diagnosed Tua in the first place.
We may never know the answer to those questions but the Dolphins' worst fears were realized a few days later when Tua suffered a massive concussion against the Cincinnati Bengals that had him sent to the hospital.
Tua's status for upcoming games is unknown.
We now know what Belichick would do in a similar situation.