It was nearing 1 a.m. on March 3, 2020. People had done everything they had to do before they went to sleep for the night. Some were having pleasant dreams. Every cell phone in the city made a loud whirring sound. Louder sounds could be heard outdoors. Tornado sirens were making the outdoor sounds. An EF-3 tornado moved across Nashville, Tennessee. It caused costly damage and several fatalities. Those alarms and sirens awakened Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. That was only part of the beginning of Tua Tagovailoa career path to valleys and mountaintops.
Reports a month after the tornadic event suggested that Tagovailoa was in Nashville to go through medical rehab. However, Tagovailoa was in Nashville for other reasons than perceived. He was secretly training with former NFL quarterback Trent Dilfer. Dilfer considered that type of training rehab. In a March 2020 interview with Rich Eisen, Dilfer said that Tagovailoa went through six weeks of rehab-type stuff with soft tosses. Tagovailoa’s medical rehab was actually in Birmingham, Alabama. Tagovailoa would drive from Nashville to Birmingham when he did go to medical rehab. Unfortunately, that catastrophic tornado destroyed Tagovailoa’s automobile.
Tua Tagovailoa Suffers College Career-Ending Hip Injury
Tagovailoa played the last college football game he would ever play four months earlier. Tagovailoa suffered a potentially career-ending injury on November 16, 2019. There were three minutes and ten seconds left on the game clock until halftime. Two Mississippi State defenders chased him behind the line of scrimmage. Tagovailoa held the ball too long. The two defenders collapsed on him. Tagovailoa suffered a concussion, broken nose, dislocated hip, and a fractured posterior wall on that one play. His stats during that game were 77.8% of completed passes, 256 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions, and a superior rating of 233.9. Tagovailoa was carted off the field. He never played football at the University of Alabama again.
Tagovailoa was unable to attend the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine. He was still recovering from surgery on his injured hip. He then planned to participate in Alabama’s Pro Day. But it was canceled due to the CoronaVirus-19 Pandemic. In the documentary, Tua: A Prophecy in the Making, Tagovailoa said, “I got to experience being at the top of the mountain and also being in the valley.” A college career-ending injury, a tornado, and a pandemic were three huge blows that were in the tumultuous valley of Tagovailoa’s NFL path.
The Miami Dolphins drafted Tagovailoa fifth overall in the 2020 draft. He was on the mountaintop once again. But strong criticism has been the valley for Tagovailoa once again after two NFL seasons. However, much of those criticisms are based on rumors and myths.
Micromanaging Tua Tagovailoa Career Stats Can Fit Any Narrative
Micromanaging every one of Tagovailoa’s NFL snaps would not be plausible to defend his play. Any quarterback can be analyzed until something fits a positive narrative. On the other hand, micromanaging plays to discredit quarterbacks aren’t plausible either. Micromanaging quarterback plays to praise or criticize will always result in something found to fit either narrative. However, discrediting rumors and myths with facts is the best defense. The fact-based defense proves Tagovailoa is not the criticized quarterback the national narrative has painted.
Rumors, Myths, and Facts
Rumor (s): Rumors can often be heard about Tagovailoa’s future with Miami. Some of those rumors are as follows:
- Tua Tagovailoa only has one year left in Miami
- Another quarterback is going to replace
- He only has the 2022 season to prove himself
Facts: The rumor that Tagovailoa only has this season to prove himself is no more than a rumor. The discussion that Tagovailoa is going to be traded for another quarterback is also only a rumor. Nobody on the Dolphins staff has said these rumors were true. But these rumors have been a narrative for the young quarterback since his rookie season ended in 2020.
Tagovailoa’s Worst Rookie Game Was Against the Bills
That trade narrative began after Tua’s worst game of his rookie season during the Dolphins loss to the Buffalo Bills. In that game, Tagovailoa passed for 361 yards with one touchdown and rushed for 28 yards. But those 361 yards were 35 completions out of 58 attempts. He threw three interceptions and was sacked once. As a result, the Dolphins were eliminated from a 2020 NFL season playoff spot. The Dolphins Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino struggled with the same team as a rookie. Marino threw for 322 yards with three touchdowns. But Marino was sacked three times, threw two interceptions, and had negative rushing yards in a losing effort against the Bills during his rookie season as well.
A younger generation of fans has always been quick to judge any Marino comparison with a 37-year difference. But the anomaly that both Marino’s and Tagovailoa’s stats were similar against the same team as rookies have been worth water cooler discussions.
Deshaun Watson, Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Lamar Jackson, and even a 2023 draft pick during the past two years have all been rumored to replace Tagovailoa. But no coach, staff, executive, or owner of the Miami Dolphins has ever acknowledged those rumors to be true.
Dan Marino Denied Deshaun Watson Trade Rumor
Former Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino did acknowledge there was nothing to the Deshaun Watson rumors the last offseason. Marino is an executive on the Dolphins staff. He is listed as Special Advisor to the Vice Chairmen, President, and CEO. When asked last August on the Tiki and Tierney Show about Watson replacing Tagovailoa, Marino said, “I never had any discussions like that at all…and Tua has been our guy and we’re going to stick with him…that’s where we’re going.” Even when the sports media tried spreading rumors that Tom Brady was going to replace Tagovailoa this season, Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel said, “No. That has not been in conversation at all. I think that is what you call fake news.”
Tua’s Arm is Not a Noodle
Myth: Tua has a noodle arm is a myth that has been a strong narrative during Tagovailoa’s NFL path.
Fact: Tagovailoa has never had the super-elite and cannon arm strength. However, it is also a fact that Tagovailoa’s arm is not weak nor is it a noodle. As far as not being super strong, that is true from his college scouting reports. Walter Football, Bleacher Report, and The Draft Network listed a lack of elite arm strength and average arm strength as a weakness. However, NFL.com and USA Today listed Tagovailoa as having adequate arm strength and enough arm talent to make the throws in the NFL a strength.
There is even video evidence of Tagovailoa throwing a football 71-yards to Dolphins receiver Lynn Bowden, Jr. during a training session this off-season. Both Bowden and the trainer that measured the field with measuring cones verified the distance. Some Tua doubters with their unbelief tried to claim the pass wasn’t that long despite not being there and the physical evidence posted on social media. The video of the 71-yard throw was posted on Twitter.
Follow this four-part series on Last Word on Sports. The next three articles in the series get more detailed with more information on rumors, myths, and facts surrounding the career path of Tua Tagovailoa.
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