It started as a routine play during a Thursday Night Football game against the Miami Dolphins and Cincinnati Bengals. Five minutes before halftime, the Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagavailoa was about to make a game-changing move when he was sacked and thrown to the ground.

Defenders are often knocked down by opposing players, but they almost always get up — Tagovailoa didn’t.

Instead, he was left lying on the ground in visible pain, fingers clenched in front of his helmet. His teammates and trainers surrounded him as he was stabilized on a stretcher and taken off the field. For seven minutes, players, fans at Paycor Stadium and millions across the country watched in horror.

The 24-year-old was taken to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center for further evaluation after suffering head and neck injuries. It was later announced that Tagovailoa was conscious and had movement in all of his limbs.

The game continued after Tagavailoa was carted off the field, but it no longer mattered who won — instead, questions about why Tagavailoa was allowed to play in Thursday’s game took over social media.

Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagavailoa is treated by medical personnel after being injured during the game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paycor Stadium on September 29, 2022 in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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Tagovailoa has been dealing with back soreness and was listed as questionable for much of the week leading up to the game after suffering the injury during last Sunday’s 21-19 win over the Buffalo Bills.

While the defender said it was a back injury, he shook his head and immediately fell to the ground before being held up by a teammate.

He returned in the second half that Sunday after the Dolphins said he passed the concussion protocol.

Last Sunday’s incident prompted the NFL and the National Football League Players Association to jointly review the extent of his injuries and whether the Dolphins followed proper concussion protocol last Sunday.

“Ninety-nine times, a full nine percent of the time, that player is ejected without even a second thought,” said Concussion Legacy Foundation CEO Chris Nowinski.CBS Morning” co-host Nate Burleson.

Navinsky, a neurologist, said the dolphins endangered Tagavailoa’s life and failed to protect him.

“It’s everyone’s failure. This is a failure of the medical team. This is the failure of the independent medical team on Sunday. This is a failure of the coaching staff. The problem is that all these failures, none of them go. The person who is punished here is Tua,” Navinsky said.

The results of the joint NFL/NFLPA investigation have yet to be released, but Miami Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel is adamant the Dolphins followed the proper protocols last Sunday.

“If there’s any inclination that someone has a concussion, they go into the concussion protocol and it’s very strict. As long as I’m the head coach, it’s never going to be an issue you have to worry about,” McDaniel said. .