Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa's college playing career came to an end on Nov. 16, 2019, when he suffered a season-ending dislocated hip. Nearly one year later, the now-Miami Dolphins player walked onto the NFL field for the first snaps of his career. The moment was not lost on Tagovailoa as he later immortalized the occasion with an epic photo at Hard Rock Stadium.
"Come a long way. The journey continues [open book emoji] [blessed]" Tagovailoa wrote in the caption of his Instagram post. He uploaded a photo that showed him reclining on the 15-yard line while looking toward the far end zone. Hard Rock Stadium had emptied out following the 24-0 victory, but Tagovailoa remained. He wanted to soak up the moment and call his parents, who could not attend the game.
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Tagovailoa is not the starting quarterback of the Dolphins, but he was able to throw his first NFL pass after veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick led the team to a 24-0 lead in the fourth quarter. The rookie out of Alabama walked onto the field and for a drive against the woeful Jets. He played limited snaps due to taking the field with less than two minutes remaining in the game but still completed two passes for a total of nine yards.
"It wasn't more so butterflies it was just excitement to get out there and see what plays [offensive coordinator] Chan [Gailey] would give me," Tagovailoa said about taking the field for the first time as a professional. Several other players felt the excitement as well, including Fitzpatrick. He waved his arms up and down to fire up the limited-capacity crowd while smiling broadly.
When Tagovailoa originally suffered the dislocated hip, fans and analysts alike expressed concern about how he would recover prior to the 2020 NFL Draft. Many didn't believe that he would be able to participate in drills at the NFL Scouting Combine or the Alabama Pro Day. Tagovailoa did indeed avoid throwing or doing any other drills at the Combine, but he was able to take part in a complete workout at his Pro Day. The Dolphins came away impressed and ultimately used the fifth overall pick to select Tagovailoa.
With his first snaps behind him, Tagovailoa doesn't know when he will suit up again. Fitzpatrick is playing well and has the team in contention for the AFC East with a 3-3 record. If the veteran continues to play well and lead the team to more wins, Tagovailoa will likely remain on the sideline for the remainder of the season. However, he will forever have the photo from his memorable game.