Paul Finebaum reacts to Tua Tagovailoa being named Miami Dolphins starter
Tua Time has everybody talking.
ESPN brought Paul Finebaum on Tuesday’s “SportsCenter” to discuss the Miami Dolphins’ decision to go with Tua Tagovailoa as the team’s starting quarterback, replacing Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Like many others, Finebaum thought about Tagovailoa’s journey since his college football career ended prematurely at Alabama.
“I can’t help but think back to Nov. 16 last year … remember that injury,” Finebaum said, per 247Sports. “And at that moment, you had to think it could be over for him. And the remarkable comeback — the resilience by Tua, the support that he had from his incredible family, I think, has really been one of the most positive sports stories of the year that we’ve seen so much heartbreak. And that is going to be special for all sports fans because of what he’s overcome. And he always did it with a smile on his face. Even as he was being carried off the field with blood and everyone in total shock, he raised his hand and said he would be back, and look at him now.”
Talking about Tagovailoa, Finebaum called him the best Crimson Tide quarterback in program history.
“Well, I think he’s learned not only is he the greatest quarterback in the history of the University of Alabama but — and that is taking quite a few players into consideration, only like Joe Namath and Ken Stabler — he took that team over and he had to walk in and win the job from Jalen Hurts, who was the most popular guy on the team,” Finebaum said. “Yeah, he won the national championship with a walk-off (touchdown), but he still had to do it in the locker room. And he did.”
The fact that a former Saban-coached quarterback is now the starting quarterback for Saban’s former NFL team led Finebaum to revisit one of football’s biggest “what if” questions.
“And I’ll tell you, I couldn’t help but think about the quarterbacks who have missed, and to think that (Alabama head coach) Nick Saban was one of those coaches at Alabama who was at Miami (from 2005-06) and wanted Drew Brees and the (team) doctors wouldn’t let him,” Finebaum mused. “He might still be there (in Miami) and then Tua wouldn’t be his quarterback (at Alabama) because Saban would probably be winning championships down there (with the Dolphins).”
Finebaum shifted his comments back to the present and the status of the rookie QB.
“He battled some injuries at Alabama, and that was always the one knock on him, but we’re not going to know until we see it,” Finebaum said. “But I feel pretty comfortable about it. Almost from the beginning, once doctors evaluated him last November and into December, they were positive that this was not going to be something that they felt he would struggle with. And he has overcome everything but that intangible. And I don’t think anybody can guess that, but knowing Tua as long as I have and knowing his resiliency, he’s not fearful of anything. I don’t think that is going to phase him in the least.”