Tua Tagovailoa may have played his last game at Alabama.
The junior quarterback will be out for the remainder of the season after dislocating his hip late in the first half of Alabama’s 38-7 win over Mississippi State. Tua was on the ground writhing in pain and audibly screaming when trainers attempted to place him on the cart to take him off the field. It was painful for fans watching from the stands or their televisions.
No one wants to see great players injured. And no one wants to see college careers end because of them. The natural inclination may be to blame someone for this injury.
Don’t do that. No one is to blame for Tua’s injury. Football is a violent sport where players can be injured on any play.
But fans will shout, “Why didn’t Nick Saban take him out?!”
Because he’s not a psychic and didn’t know Tua was going to get hurt.
If he didn’t want Tua to get hurt, he’d never play him. Football players assume the inherent risk of injury when they step foot on the field. He could have been injured at any number of practices. Alabama linebacker Dylan Moses suffered a torn ACL that cost him his junior season this year. Should Saban have held Moses out of that practice? See how exhausting this blame game can be?
It does no good. Will you feel better by blaming Saban for sending his starting quarterback out in the end of the first half to try and get another score?
You can play the what-if game because that’s a normal part of being a sports fan. I do it all the time wondering what if the Chicago Bears drafted Deshaun Watson or Patrick Mahomes instead of Mitchell Trubisky.
“That was going to be his last series,” Saban said, via ESPN’s Mark Schlabach. “We were going to do two-minute before the half was over just for practice. First, we’ve got to block them better so he doesn’t get sacked. It’s too bad.”
“We can second-guess ourselves all we want,” Saban told ESPN. “We told Mac Jones to warm up. We were going to go 2-minute before the half, and Tua wanted to go in the game. So I don’t really make a lot of decisions about guys getting hurt. … We had total confidence in Mac, and Mac did a good job when he went in.”
Alabama needed another score before half because they need to win with style points to try and get any sort of playoff brownie points to enhance their playoff resume. After losing to LSU last week, Alabama was in that position. But even if they beat LSU last week, Tua would have been out on the field in this same situation.
There’s no point in blaming Leo Lewis for the hit that injured Tua.
You can’t bring Tua back and heal his dislocated hip by swearing on Twitter, throwing your remote at your television or going on an unhinged rant on Facebook.
What you can do is hate that this happened. Saban used the word in four consecutive sentences when discussing the Tua injury.
“And we hate it that he got injured. We hate it for him. We hate it for his family. I hate it when any player on our team gets injured. So Godspeed to him and his entire family and our thoughts and prayers are with them and hope this is not so serious it has any long-term effect on his future as a player.”
You can be gutted the greatest quarterback in Alabama football history had his season (and likely his college career) end like this. You can be ticked off you don’t get to see him throw to Jerry Jeudy, DeVonta Smith, Jaylen Waddle and Henry Ruggs III anymore. Together they shattered nearly every meaningful Alabama passing record over the last two years.
It’s totally acceptable to be sad knowing you won’t get to see him in the Iron Bowl vs. Auburn and try to keep Alabama’s playoff hopes alive. It stinks not knowing if Alabama could have made a run and snuck in the playoff and won another national championship. There’s no shame in letting a few tears flow because you’re heartbroken for a great kid who gave his all for Alabama football and the university. This is a devastating injury that hurts Tua, his family, the Alabama family and the college football community.
If it helps you feel better, you can rewatch his finest highlights from playing the hero in the National Championship Game against Georgia to his assault on the record books last season and through the first two-plus months this year.
Tua’s injury will have you running the gamut of emotions. There’s all the stages of grief to process.
One of those stages isn’t laying blame.
This isn’t Saban’s fault for playing him. This isn’t anyone’s fault. This is football and people get hurt.
What we can do is support Tua in his recovery and wish for a complete return to form so we can see him on the football field again next season, albeit in an NFL uniform in all likelihood, and enjoy seeing him excel just as he did during his time at Alabama.
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