Well, it’s been nearly two weeks since the first round of the 2020 NFL draft was conducted, so I guess we can believe it now; we really are going to have one of the best quarterbacks in the history of college football on our team for the foreseeable future, Tua Tagovailoa. How do you have a 69.3 completion percentage over your entire collegiate career, when you’re playing, not for some little division III school, but a major college football program, and in the SEC, no less? A dink and dunk passer? This generation’s ‘Throwin’ Samoan’ threw for 7442 yards at Alabama, on 684 attempts, averaging nearly eleven yards per throw (10.88). And, yes — his receivers did make a lot of those yards on their own after the catch — that’s what happens when you make precision throws that your guys don’t have to lay out for; Joe Montana won four Super Bowls that way, and Brady’s still doing it. What’s more, I cannot recall any quarterback ever going into a national championship game, as a true freshman, at the start of the third quarter, facing a double digit deficit and then bringing his team back to win the game. I mean, that’s beyond ridiculous.
Obviously, there has been some concern among many Dolphin fans about the young man’s injury history during his time playing for the Alabama Crimson Tide. A couple of ankle injuries and subsequent surgeries and, most notably, the fractured and dislocated hip injury he suffered last year against Mississippi State. What I want to do today is to make my case to you as to why I believe that much of the fear and pessimism regarding this hip injury may very well be overstated and overblown.
Number one, it’s not as though other NFL players haven’t sustained similar injuries in the past and returned to play with no ill effects. In 2014, linebacker C.J. Mosley suffered a dislocated hip in January, was drafted by a very highly regarded front office, the Baltimore Ravens, and went on to start the team’s season opener just nine months later, and every other game that season. And with Tagovailoa, it’s really the dislocation I believe is the most concerning. People fracture bones all the time and generally recover with no problem. Of course, he’ll need to continue rehabbing and doing everything possible to strengthen the muscles around the joint to further stabilize it.
But there’s more. Here’s the thing no one is talking about, in terms of an injury like this, so I think it’s time we talked about it: Tagovailoa’s relatively short stature (6’0”, 216) makes him, at least on paper, much more unlikely to re aggravate this injury in the future than he would be if he were taller, in my opinion, and I’ll tell you why. Generally speaking, leg injuries tend to linger and accumulate more noticeably in taller individuals than shorter ones, and I speak from experience. Let’s pretend for a moment that Tagovailoa isn’t a superbly conditioned pro athlete, but instead an ordinary guy on the street, like me.
If we both suffered this exact same hip injury, I would be — again, on paper — more likely to have problems later on, because I’m taller. At 6’3”, 212, I have longer legs and therefore take longer strides when walking or running. This causes my weight and center of gravity to get out over my legs, which in turn, places considerably more torque on all my leg joints, including the hips, especially when running. Living in Chicago, I have a hell of a time walking on snow and ice in the winter, because those long, pavement eating strides that work so well for me the rest of the year must be chopped down to tiny, mincing steps to avoid falling down and looking a complete idiot, or hurting myself. The shorter, more compact gait a person with Tagovailoa’s build employs gives him a decided advantage not just in terms of remaining injury free in the future, but in athletics in general. He can stop and start or change direction more efficiently, as well.
Switching back to the NFL, former Dolphins center Mike Pouncey, at 6’5”, 303, also suffered a hip injury a few years ago, prompting Miami to eventually waive him. Since then, he’s started 21 of a possible 32 games for the Chargers, and only missed eleven games last season because of a neck injury; we haven’t heard anything about his hip since he left.
But this is what I really wanted to tell you about today. On the Saturday night after the remaining rounds of the draft had been completed, I got together with a buddy of mine to knock back a few bottles of Lagunitas IPA; at this time of year, I kind of have that BPA/IPA thing going on. It took me a while to find the ale in the beer aisle at the supermarket, because I kept looking for BPA.
So, we’re talking about the draft, as well as both the Dolphins and Bears. Now, understand, we had watched the beatdown the Dolphins suffered against the Steelers in January 2017, when their improbable playoff run came to a screeching halt. He isn’t a Dolphins fan by any means, he just wanted to watch a game that was at least somewhat competitive. He was, of course very disappointed in their poor showing, and I explained to him that the reason the Dolphins couldn’t stop the Steelers receivers was because, in those days, they were using almost all their high draft picks on offense, to try and jump start Ryan Tannehill’s career. Of course, backup QB Matt Moore played in that game, because Tannehill was injured.
When I told my buddy about the situation with the draft picks, he became even more livid. ”Come on, man! Are you kidding me? That doesn’t make any sense, their offense stinks!” Of course, there really wasn’t much I could say in response, to try and argue his point, because he was right. But a couple of Saturdays ago, I remembered that afternoon, and when the conversation turned to quarterbacks, I looked at him and simply said, “There are two kinds of teams in the NFL, my friend: those who have franchise quarterbacks, and those who don’t.”