Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh didn’t hold back Friday when he was asked about his approach when players sustain concussions following Tua Tagovailoa‘s frightening injury Thursday night.
The Miami Dolphins star quarterback was taken off the field on a stretcher and rushed to hospital with head and neck injuries after he was sacked midway through the second quarter against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Tagovailoa had also suffered what the team called a “back injury” just four days earlier against the Buffalo Bills. The 24-year-old was removed from that game with what the Dolphins said was a head injury originally until he returned to start the second half.
Harbaugh told reporters he “couldn’t believe” what he saw during both games.
“It was just something that was just astonishing to see,” Harbaugh said. “I’ve been coaching for 40 years now in college and the NFL, almost 40, and I’ve never seen anything like it before. It just was really something that … I just couldn’t believe what I was seeing.”
Harbaugh expressed appreciation toward the Ravens’ doctors and to general manager Eric DeCosta for how their team handles players returning from concussions.
“A lot of times players want to play. They want to go out there, they want to play and sometimes you just have to tell them, ‘No,'” Harbaugh said. “You have to say no. No has got to be the answer.”
Harbaugh referred to how the Ravens dealt with wide receiver Devin DuVernay, who sustained a concussion during Week 2 against the Dolphins.
“He really didn’t have much in terms of symptoms or stuff like that, but he was out for the game and he was out most of the week and never had a symptom,” Harbaugh explained. “… When he was finally cleared, I think that’s the approach you take.
“Sometimes, guys might be there physically where they’re sound, but they’re not confident yet. They’re not quite there yet. … You don’t put them out there until they’re ready. Until they’re ready in their minds.”
Harbaugh said Ravens doctors would probably call themselves conservative but added, “that’s what they should be.”
The NFL and the players’ association are investigating Miami’s handling of Tagovailoa’s injury Sunday.
Tagovailoa underwent an MRI Friday and remains in concussion protocol.