The Central Catholic and Ohio State graduate left the NFL nearly a decade ago, citing health issues and risk of injury.

TOLEDO, Ohio — If you watched Thursday nights on Amazon Prime this week, you witnessed the terrifying moment Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagavailoa was sacked, hit the ground hard and carted off the field.

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It was clear that the defender’s hands were straining, which is called fencingand can occur after a head injury.

He was taken to the hospital, treated and released. It comes just four days after he was briefly sidelined with another hard hit and a possible concussion.

Many question whether he should have even played Thursday night.

A joint investigation between the NFL and the NFL Players Association is now underway to see if the team violated protocols. The Dolphins are adamant that they followed the rules.

This raises the bigger question of health risks in sports. Danes Sanzenbacher, who played wide receiver at Central Catholic High School and Ohio State before moving to the NFL, knows the risks all too well.

“It’s a sport we love, but at a certain point it has a danger that can’t be ignored,” said Sanzenbacher, a former WTOL 11 reporter.

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He retired from professional football nearly ten years ago.

“Definitely, thinking about my own health is the reason I stopped playing the game,” he said. “A knee injury is what it is – a separated shoulder, a broken finger is what you sign up for. But the older you get in the game, the more you start thinking about the long term and your family and how you want this thing to play out.”

He’s done taking risks. And after learning what happened first Sunday and then Thursday night on the field he once played on, he can’t help but feel for the man in uniform.

“These athletes are guys, and Tua has a family,” Sanzenbacher said.

WTOL 11 asked ProMedica sports medicine physician Dr. Matthew Rennells what decisions are made when a player is cleared to return to the field. He says there are independent neurologists working in the field. These are professionals not affiliated with any of the teams.

“There is a lot of consensus concussion and everyone does it the same way, so I suspect he passed that initial test and decided to return safely [on Sunday]” Rennels said.

Rennells says the players will be monitored in the days following the head injury. He added that hopefully players don’t downplay their symptoms and there are systems in place to protect them.

“We recognized those things,” Rennells said. “We have developed standardized protocols and are constantly improving our diagnostics and testing capabilities.”

Sanzenbacher says concussions are part of the game, and it’s hard to fix the problem without drastically changing the way the game is played. But he is pleased that there is more awareness now than when he was playing.

“At some level, the people in charge have to protect the athletes from themselves,” Sanzenbacher said. “I think that’s probably a statement that can resonate all the way up to a high school student, a college student, and an NFL player.”