NFL Makes Decision on Punishment for Bills LB Who Hit Tua Tagovailoa

Tua Tagovailoa

Getty Tua Tagovailoa on the field after taking a hit against the Buffalo Bills.

The NFL has made a final decision on punishment for Buffalo Bills linebacker Matt Milano, whose hit on Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa sparked a week-long drama regarding the league and concussion protocol.

Milano was flagged for a late hit on Tagovailoa in the second quarter of last week’s 21-19 Dolphins victory, giving the Bills a 15-yard penalty and sending the Dolphins quarterback to the locker room to be evaluated for a concussion. He was relieved by backup Teddy Bridgewater but returned for the second half, leading Miami to a victory.

NFL Decides on Punishment for Milano

The league on Saturday announced fines for Week 3 games. There was one fine from the Bills game, with the league slapping a $13,261 fine on Dolphins defensive end Christian Wilkins for unsportsmanlike conduct after he tussled with Bills quarterback Josh Allen.

Though Milano was flagged for a late hit for pushing Tagovailoa after he had released the ball, the league determined that his play was not worthy of a penalty. The league and Dolphins were criticized at the time for allowing Tagovailoa to return even though he was seen stumbling following the hit, which caused him to fall backward and hit his head on the turf.

The Dolphins said at the time that Tagovailoa had not actually suffered a head injury on the play.

“My understanding of the Tua Tagovailoa situation: He tweaked his back in the 1st quarter on a sneak and didn’t miss time,” tweeted NFL insider Ian Rapoport. “After the Matt Milano hit, his back locked up — leading to him wobbling. Into the locker room for a full concussion check. Fully cleared. Now on the field.”

The Dolphins faced further criticism on Thursday when Tagovailoa was sacked in a loss to the Cincinnati Bengals and suffered a concussion. Critics said that he should have not been allowed to play in the first place, not buying the team’s explanation that he suffered a back injury in the previous game against the Bills.

Fallout from Bills-Dolphins Game

The fallout from Milano’s hit on Tagovailoa continued throughout the week. On October 1, the unaffiliated neurotrauma consultant who cleared Tagovailoa to return after his hit against the Bills was fired.

The league and NFL Players Association also issued a joint statement saying that the decision to allow Tagovailoa to return to the Bills game was still under investigation. The two sides also agreed to new modifications to concussion protocol that prohibited players from returning after stumbling as Tagovailoa following his hit from Milano.

“The NFL and the NFLPA agree that The NFLPA’s Mackey-White Health & Safety Committee and the NFL’s Head Neck and Spine Committee have already begun conversations around the use of the term ‘Gross Motor Instability’ and we anticipate changes to the protocol being made in the coming days based on what has been learned thus far in the review process,” the joint statement read.

“The NFL and NFLPA share a strong appreciation for the unaffiliated neurotrauma consultants who contribute their time and expertise to our game solely to advance player safety. This program has made our game safer for the athletes who play it for the past twelve seasons.”