One of the charms of the annual Super Bowl build-up, besides the Puppy Bowl of course, are the exotic propositions on which a person of sporting spirit and legal sports-book access can make a friendly wager.
They range from football-oriented things like which player scores the first touchdown to “will Team A record a safety?” There are slightly more esoteric bets available, like the number of seconds the national anthem will take or the outcome of the pregame coin toss. One intrepid Las Vegas gambler has already bet $2,000 on “tails.”
There is only one sure thing at this year’s Super Bowl extravaganza in Miami. Put Tua Tagovailoa in front of the assembled NFL mass media and Tua is going to charm them every time.
That’s what happened Thursday when Tua and his new management team, led by agent Leigh Steinberg, accompanied the former Alabama quarterback to south Florida. With the players from the participating teams (Kansas City and San Francisco) no longer available, thousands of reporters and broadcasters are as ravenous as sharks for Thursday content and Tua, the most intriguing story in the upcoming draft, was manna, or poi, if you prefer, from Heaven.
He did interviews. Steinberg did interviews. Tua’s parents, Galu and Diane, did interviews. There were national interviews and abundant local interviews since the host team, the Miami Dolphins, are considered to be one of the prime players in the Tua sweepstakes. That’s a huge publicity coup as Tua positions himself in the lucrative endorsement market. Judging by his social media accounts, he is already involved with some companies and is no doubt earning ample pocket money between now and April’s NFL Draft.
One reason Tua will make a good spokesman is he seems honest, because he is honest. He gives direct answers to direct questions and did so again on Thursday, as when he was asked about his current medical status by Fox Network’s NFL reporters.
“It’s just hard, especially with the injury,” Tagovailoa said. “No one can really tell if it’s going to heal correctly or if it isn’t.
“That’s why I think at the combine … my main focus is to win my medical. That’s pretty much it. Everyone else is going to be there to win the 40, win the bench press. My main concern is to go over there and win my MRI, win my CT scan there.”
The next major CT scan for Tagovailoa is scheduled for Feb. 10, after which he and his doctors will continue to plan his long-term rehabilitation.
However, he also said he was not worried that his long-term future would be affected by the dislocated hip and subsequent surgery that ended his Alabama career.
“I wasn’t bionic then,” he said. “I’m bionic now.”
Tagovailoa also appeared on NBC Sports’ “Pro Football Now” morning show and confirmed that he came close to postponing the draft hoopla for a year.
“I was about this close (to returning to Alabama),” he said, measuring about an inch between his thumb and forefinger. “I was really close, but sitting down with my mom and dad, getting guidance, seeing where their heart was with all of this, that’s kind of what I went off as far as making my decision to enter the draft.”
One person who did not try to sway Tua’s decision in a particular direction: Nick Saban.
“The thing that stuck with me from Coach Saban was, when you make a decision, don’t make an emotional one,” Tagovailoa said in yet another appearance, this one on NFL Network. “If me and you have this, we’re always going to have it. Don’t feel like you need to pressure yourself into staying because of the relationship that we have, and if you go, we won’t have it.
“Coach Saban said to make business decisions about what is going to best for you and your family. Don’t make emotional decisions. So that’s what we did.”
Reach Cecil Hurt at email@example.com or 205-722-0225.
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