NFLPA, NFL agree to adopt Tua Tagovailoa rule ahead of this weekend's games

As far as the NFL Players Association is concerned, changes to the league's concussion protocols cannot come soon enough.

The union released a statement Friday confirming it had come to an agreement with the NFL on a change to prevent players from returning to a game if they show gross motor instability, which infamously happened with Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa in Week 3.

The NFLPA called on the league to put the change into effect in time for this weekend's games:

"Our union has agreed to change the concussion protocols to protect players from returning to play in the case of any similar incident to what we saw on September 25. We would like these changes to go into effect before this weekend's games to immediately protect the players and hope the NFL accepts the change before then as well."

The NFL and the union then agreed on Saturday to implement the changes starting with games on Sunday.

The NFL responded with an initial statement on Friday night confirming they had agreed to the changes, but declined to address the union's demand for instant change.

The two sides released findings from their investigation into Tagovailoa's case, too, and agreed mutually "that the outcome in this case is not what was intended when the protocols were drafted. As such ... the protocol will be modified to enhance the safety of the players."

"The protocol exists to establish a high standard of concussion care for each player whereby every medical professional engages in a meaningful and rigorous examination of the player-patent," the conclusion read, in part. "To that end, the parties remain committed to continuing to evaluate our protocol to ensure it reflects the intended conservative approach to evaluating player-patients for potential head injuries."

The Dolphins' handling of Tagovailoa has come under high scrutiny since he returned in Game 3, with the NFLPA announcing it would investigate the process the same night. Raised eyebrows turned into expressions of horror in the Dolphins' next game when Tagovailoa sustained a serious concussion from his head slamming into the ground, prompting a full re-examination of how the NFL handles head injuries.

NFL teams have by and large been more careful with players who have sustained apparent head injuries, most recently with Indianapolis Colts running back Nyheim Hines, who did not return to "Thursday Night Football" after displaying clear gross motor instability.

The concussion policy change will codify that increased caution. Hopefully, teams have learned their lesson in the aftermath of Tagovailoa's injury, but the union clearly doesn't want to take any chances.

Miami Dolphins wide receiver Jaylen Waddle (17) and teammates look on as quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (1) is treated following an injury in a game between the Miami Dolphins and the Cincinnati Bengals on September 29, 2022, at Paycor Stadium in Cincinnati, OH. (Photo by Jeff Moreland/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
The NFLPA wants to avoid a repeat of the Tua Tagovailoa situation. (Jeff Moreland/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)