After making his NFL debut in a 24-0 win over the New York Jets on Sunday, Miami Dolphins rookie quarterback Tua Tagovailoa enjoyed a reflective moment on the field at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida.
Long after the game had ended and the limited amount of fans permitted into the stadium had left, Tagovailoa went back onto the field while still in uniform, sat down and soaked it all in:
Cameron Wolfe @CameronWolfe
Tua Tagovailoa went back to the field and he’s sitting around the 15-yard-line in full uniform. It looks like he’s soaking this moment in. On November 16, 2019, Tua suffered a potentially career-ending injury. On October 18, 2020, he threw his first NFL passes. https://t.co/q5OHSNQe2c
Tagovailoa later revealed that he FaceTimed his parents, who were unable to attend the game.
"It was a very special moment for me because my parents weren't here so I wanted to sit close to where we ended our drive at and ended up FaceTiming my parents," Tagovailoa told reporters. "... My parents normally never miss my game."
Tagovailoa didn't come into the game until Miami's final series, but he was met with cheers from the Dolphins faithful and finished 2-of-2 for nine yards in limited action.
Although the stats don't jump off the page, it was a significant moment for Tagovailoa given what he had to overcome in order to reach that point.
Tagovailoa suffered a season-ending hip injury that required surgery during the 2019 campaign at Alabama. Despite some question marks surrounding his health, Tagovailoa entered the 2020 draft, and the Dolphins took him fifth overall.
Veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick has been the starter throughout the season and has the Dolphins off to a surprising 3-3 start, but Tagovailoa finally got his first taste of NFL football Sunday.
The expectation is that Tagovailoa is the Dolphins' quarterback of the future, although the future may not be until next season at the earliest with how well Fitzpatrick and the team as a whole are playing.
Until then, Tagovailoa will continue to fill his role as a backup and could continue to see some action in mop-up duty if the Dolphins are up or down big in any given game.
Even Fitzpatrick was shown pumping up the crowd when Tagovailoa entered the game Sunday, so it is clear that everyone involved with the Dolphins organization wants the young signal-caller to succeed moving forward.