For all the smoke and mirrors, to say nothing of the legitimate concerns, Tua Tagovailoa wound up precisely where most informed observers felt he would: Miami.
That doesn’t mean we’ve heard the final word in Tua controversy, of course. Unless he leads the Dolphins to the 2021 Super Bowl — and no quarterback is that good — there will be second-guessers. Unless he plays a long, arduous season without missing a snap, there will be a legion of those second-guessers.
Tua is prepared for that. He’s heard it all along the way. There never was any question about his ability but there were questions about when he would play with an experienced quarterback in front of him at Alabama, then questions about his health and, believe it or not, even questions about whether he would have a good 2019 season after being limited in spring practice.
Tagovailoa weathered them all. He will face similar questions in Miami. He will weather those as well.
Speaking to reporters via a video news conference, Tua said he’s confident he can play in 2020 because “that’s what the doctors have told me. As far as medical rechecks, I’ve checked off all the boxes. That’s what I’ve been standing on and what I’ve been going with.
“Man, it was a dream come true, to be able to have this opportunity. This is special for not just me but my family as well.”
His first purchase with the $30 million or so coming from his NFL contract might be a car.
“I was in Nashville getting ready for the draft and It was about 1 a.m., sirens were going off and I was sleeping,” Tagovailoa said. “Right when I woke up, three to four minutes later, a tornado sweeps through my complex.
“It destroyed my car.”
That adversity, too, is something Tagovailoa can handle.
Nick Saban already knows.
“Tua’s a great player,” Saban said on Wednesday. “He’s very instinctive. He’s very accurate with the ball. He’s got a great feel for the game. He’s got a great personality, really good person, great teammate to have on your team. He’s a great leader, and I think he’s proven that over and over again. I think that from an injury standpoint, what I try to tell teams is every time Tua’s gotten hurt here it’s been extending a play where he should have never even got hit. So, I think the lesson is self-preservation, and he needs to learn as a quarterback so he doesn’t take unnecessary hits is probably what he needs to learn how to do. Now, the guy’s a great competitor, so he’s always trying to make a play, which you really don’t want to take that away from him. But you also want him to know when there’s nothing there and there’s no sense in taking a hit that you don’t need to take.”
If he shows the grace and poise he showed at Alabama, he will be just fine — and create a great many new Dolphins fans in Tuscaloosa.
Reach Cecil Hurt at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @cecilhurt