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HONOLULU (KHON) – Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is recovering at his South Florida home after he was slammed to the turf during Thursday night’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals — and carted off the field on a stretcher with injuries to his head and neck.

An outpouring of support and concern over Tagovailoa’s safety immediately followed Thursday’s game, along with questions of whether he should have even played that day.

Even for those in the National Football League, seeing the Hawaii native getting slammed to the turf, and his subsequent reaction, came as a shock. They also immediately raised concerns for his safety.

“I was devastated. I got a bunch of texts from friends all over the mainland and in Hawaii,” said former NFL player Leo Goeas.

“It was definitely a scary sight,” added former NFL player Chad Owens. “I’ve been in games where guys have gotten stretchered off. It’s never fun to see that, especially with someone like Tua.”

Viewers were not only worried about his immediate health, but also about the young quarterback’s future.

“Understand the gravity and how brutal and violent this game is, and you just pray for something that’s not gonna be long-term,” said former NFL player Rich Miano.

Tagovailoa was already hurt during Sunday’s game. The team said it was a back injury. And now the Dolphins are facing a lot of criticism about letting him play on Thursday.

The NFL Players Association is investigating.

“On a short week, a Sunday-Thursday turnaround, you’re putting the player at risk even though if it was just a back injury. You’re not gonna heal in that short of a time,” said Owens.

“You just hope that it was diagnosed properly the first time and you hope that there was nobody complicit, just thinking about winning,” said Miano.

Miami’s head coach said all the safety protocols were followed.

“I wouldn’t have put him out there if there was any inclination given to me whatsoever that he was endangering himself,” said Mike McDaniel.

Former players, meanwhile, spoke of the pressure for a player to get back on the field — even when they’re hurt.

“You want to get out every Sunday and be with your teammates and do all that. But when it comes to your head, your brain, it’s something that could have lifelong lasting effects,” said Goeas.