Jesse Watters, co-host of the Fox News roundtable show The five, criticized a colleague who criticized the outbreak of concern for Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa after the NFL player suffered two brutal injuries in just four days. The 24-year-old was punched during Thursday night’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals after hitting his head on the ground on Sunday and struggling to stand up while playing for the Buffalo Bills.
Fox News’s Dagen McDowell called for layoffs and investigations into why Tagovailoa was allowed to play again so quickly as “uninformed hysteria” online, with “crazys going off in the world with blue ticks.” But Watters pushed back on her claims.
“The shot where he stumbles and can’t walk – that shows a clear gross motor instability,” Watters said of Tagovailoa’s movements last Sunday. The NFL Players Association was already investigating that incident, which left the third-year quarterback with back and ankle problems, according to the team’s injury report Thursday.
“That’s a pretty tight turnaround. You go from Sunday to Thursday,” Watters noted. “You already know it’s easier to get another concussion if you got one a few days earlier. He’s in danger.”
“They are talking about a criminal investigation. There are people who need to be fired within the organization: the medical department of the team. I don’t know how the man’s agent didn’t say, “Hey, you know what? We’re not going to play him this week.’ You risk a huge, huge asset there. It’s not like it’s the playoffs. It’s a shame what happened.”
Concussion expert Dr. Chris Nowinski was one of a chorus of voices demanding consequences for those involved. Nowinski, a CTE specialist, echoed a tweet he posted before Thursday’s kickoff, saying: “If… [Tagovailoa] has a 2nd concussion that destroys his season or career, all involved will be charged and should lose their jobs, including coaches.”
But after Watters said his piece, McDowell stated she was of the “completely opposite view.”
“This is Twitter hysteria. It’s uninformed hysteria and madness going wild in the world of the blue tick,” she argued.
“It’s not about Twitter,” Watters retorted. “Everyone in the NFL, everyone on ESPN, former players and agents say this was terrible.”
Dagen then mocked the idea of a cover-up of the true nature of Tagovailoa’s injury on Sunday.
“You have to believe Tua lied on Sunday, the team lied, the league lied,” she said. “You have to believe there is a conspiracy…including the independent concussion doctor who lied about the reason he was wobbly on Sunday and allowed him back into the game.”
Watters disagreed, later saying in the argument that a “reckless medical staff” put the quarterback at risk. Watters also claimed that players “will say whatever they want to get back on the field, and you have to understand that.”
“They definitely won’t,” McDowell insisted. “If it’s week three of an incredible season, he won’t be putting his entire career on the line, and neither will the team.”
“I make no apologies for what the NFL has done in the past with a $1 billion concussion settlement,” she continued. (The league has also come under fire for ‘race-norming’ cognitive scores, which have reportedly reduced payouts to black former players.) “But this is uninformed hysteria from ESPN.”