On Tuesday's radio show I brought up the question of what happens if Tua is cleared to play this week against the Bills in the AFC Wild Card game, should he play? Who makes that decision? If he is cleared and wants to play despite another concussion, who are we to tell him to play or not to play? Can the Dolphins really tell him he's not playing? Mike McDaniel doesn't have to play him but if he's cleared, isn't it Tua's decision?
It is a debate many will discuss if Tua Tagovailoa does get medically cleared by doctors in the next day or two. He gives Miami the best chance to beat Buffalo. Playoff games are hard to earn and there are many veterans in the Dolphins' locker room that may not get to another post-season. But we have seen the hits, falls and body reaction when Tua goes down. But if you are concerned about his health and future, let me tell you about someone on the other side of the field this week.
While NFL fans and players celebrate Damar Hamlin getting better, there is another member of the Bills that is not getting the national attention about to play or not to play, meet Mitch Morse.
Morse was a second round pick of the Kansas City Chiefs in the 2015 NFL Draft. He started at center for four seasons before signing as a free agent with Buffalo and has been snapping balls to Josh Allen for four seasons. He has played and started in 109 games in his career. On December 17th, the Bills beat the Miami Dolphins 32-29 and Mitch Morse suffered a concussion- the 6th of his career and the third since 2019.
Morse was ruled out of the Bills following game against the Chicago Bears. But guess who was cleared to play the next week against the Bengals that Monday night when we saw Damar Hamlin drop? Mitch Morse started at center for the Bills.
Morse is a team captain and there were plenty of "his health is our number one priority" and "hope he's ok and can return soon" from the BIlls' players and coaches. He did clear the NFL's concussion protocol and met the benchmarks to return to the field. Mitch Morse doesn't play quarterback and you won't find SportsCenter showing highlights of him blocking because we don't do that for offensive lineman, we only focus on the stars who fuel our addiction to football. But Morse is supposed to be a big tough guy and they are expected to bounce back from hits because that is what football is about.
Morse's first two concussions came in his rookie season in 2015 and his second that year cost him two playoff games. Morse claims both of those concussions were avoidable if he wore a mouthpiece and that his helmet was not up-to-date with the NFL's latest model to add protection. His concussion issues may have been a reason the Chiefs did not exercise his fifth-year option and let him walk. The Bills made Morse the highest paid center in the league at the time with a four-year $44.5M contract. In his first training camp with the Bulls, Morse suffered another concussion and he missed most of the pre-season.
Morse, as one could imagine, says he understands the risk of playing such a physical game. After a concussion in 2019, Morse said “If (a concussion) happens a few more times, it’s just the nature of the beast. You put pen to paper, you know what happens.”
When he suffered a concussion in 2020, Morse told Vic Carucci of The Buffalo News: “It’s one of those things that you wonder, ‘Why is this happening to me? Am I damaged goods? What’s happening?’ In the back of your mind, you always wonder.”
Come Sunday we know Morse will be on the field playing for the Bills. We do not yet know if Tua will be cleared to even make a decision to play but the players have something in common. They know the risk and know the stakes but neither knows the long term damage being done by stepping onto the field for the next game. Morse has already made that decision, Tua may face such a decision in the next 24 to 48 hours...
Final note: Orange juice is the top selling juice in the world. Apple and cranberry sit second and third.