Dennis Pitta Outlines Challenges Ahead For Tua

The former Ravens tight end suffered an "almost identical" hip injury in 2013; then he suffered two more, which ultimately ended his career

After Hours With Amy Lawrence
May 06, 2020 - 10:42 am
Dennis Pitta Ravens

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If anyone knows what Tua Tagovailoa is going through as he continues to recover from a dislocated hip, it’s former Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta, who suffered an “almost identical” injury in 2013.

“Our injuries were very similar,” Pitta said on After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “As a lot of people know, I went on to return to play but then suffered a second hip dislocation and ultimately a third hip dislocation, which ended my career. I think because of my case and what doctors learned from what I went through trying to play professional football and come back from an injury of that nature, I think it certainly hurt Tua a little bit when teams have talked about, ‘Can he be a player that can have a long promising career? Will he be able to sustain his health throughout that time? Will his hip be stable? Will it be healthy? Will he suffer another one like I did?’ I think those have been a lot of the questions that teams were asking themselves leading up to the draft.”

Those questions, at least for the Miami Dolphins, have been answered. They selected Tagovailoa with the fifth overall pick.

“Certainly they felt comfortable enough selecting him,” Pitta said. “Listen, I’ve had a lot of contact with Tua’s parents mostly, just because of the nature of my injury being so similar to what he went through and I wanted to be able to be somewhat of a support system for them and to be able to understand kind of what it’s going to take for him to get back and all that. For him, it’s not that long of a road to get back. For me and my first hip injury, it was really four months later from surgery and all that that I was back on the field playing in an NFL football game. You can certainly bounce back quickly from an injury like that.

“But I think there are questions about longevity and the overall health of his hip moving forward,” Pitta continued. “With an injury of this nature, you really only worry about one specific thing, and that’s blood flow to the hip. Anytime you have damage to your blood flow, essentially the hip can deteriorate over time and that bone will die and not be as strong as it is.”

Pitta’s blood flow was fine – or so doctors thought.

“Looking back, even though I tested well for good blood flow, I think you have to look back and say I didn’t,” he said. “That hip wasn’t unstable, but it fractured again on the ball of my femur, which wouldn’t happen if the bones were as strong as they should have been. That’s really what Tua will be facing moving forward.”