NFL Network had Tua Tagovailoa on during their Super Bowl coverage today, and they asked him about his decision to go pro. After pinching his fingers together to say that he was “this close” to returning, he gave this insight on Nick Saban’s advice.
“The thing that stuck with me from Coach Saban was, when you make a decision, don’t make an emotional one,” he told NFL Network. “If me and you have this [relationship], 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. No, that’s not what it is...
“Coach Saban’s thing was, I’m not trying to persuade you to go. I’m not trying to persuade you to stay,” Tagovailoa told ESPN Radio on Thursday. “But here’s the information that I can give you. Coach Saban gave the information that we needed as a family. His thing was, we’re behind you guys 100 percent. Whatever the decision is, we’re behind you.”
Saban has a ton of credibility with NFL front offices, and with his players, for this reason. He has always maintained that players with a first round grade should go. Some seemed to take his quote before the Citrus Bowl about players with a top 15 grade out of context. He wasn’t talking about the decision to go pro with those guys, but whether the players sitting out were so certain of going high in the draft that sitting out would benefit them more than playing well in the game.
In any event, Tua was clearly torn, and the emotional decision would probably have brought him back to Tuscaloosa. Being that he is currently projected to go in the top ten, and very possibly in the top five, the decision would have been difficult to defend from a business perspective.
May he find much better injury luck in the pros and become one of the all-time greats. His attitude is already there.
Roll Tide, Tua.