Tua Tagovailoa typically couches his public comments and chooses his words carefully with the media, but a recent comment from an analyst has brought out some surprising fire in the Miami Dolphins quarterback.
ESPN's Ryan Clark, who spent 13 years as a defensive back in the NFL, recently suggested that Tagovailoa didn't appear to be in shape based on his appearance in training camp, even going so far as to suggest that the QB spent too much time this offseason getting tattoos (Tua is sporting a new arm-sleeve tattoo this season).
Tagovailoa unexpectedly fired back with a tone not often heard from the soft-spoken quarterback when asked about Clark's comments.
"I'd appreciate if you kept my name out of your mouth," Tagovailoa told reporters on Wednesday. "That's what I'd say."
The original comments from Clark, who won Super Bowl XLIII with the Steelers, came during a discussion on ESPN's NFL Live about Tagovailoa's performance during this past weekend's preseason game against the Texans.
"Let me tell you what (Tagovailoa) wasn't doing: He wasn't in the gym, I'll bet you that," Clark said. "He might spend a lot of time in the tattoo parlor. He was not at the dinner table eating what the nutritionist had advised.
"He looks happy. He is thick."
Tagovailoa said Wednesday that he did not understand where Clark's comments even came from.
"I mean, (Clark) probably knows more about me than I know about myself," Tagovailoa said, in a seemingly sarcastic tone. "I don't know. Ryan's been out of the league for some time. I don't know. It's a little weird when other people are talking about other people when they're not that person. It was just a little weird."
Then the easy-going Tagovailoa wasn't afraid to show his feisty side.
"Like my background, I come from a Samoan family. Respect is everything," he said. "But if it does get to a point where -- hey, (let's take it) a little easy on that, buddy, because I think we're pretty tough-minded people.
"And if we need to get scrappy, we can get scrappy, too. Just saying."
Clark appears to be standing by his original on-air comments, saying that his on-air comments were made in jest.
"I 100% take accountability for it!! I said it!! I meant it!! It was a joke!! If asked why I said it by Tua I would tell him," Clark wrote Tuesday on social media. "I have 0 issues looking a man in the eye and telling my truth. I accept any consequence."
Tagovailoa has faced criticism -- and questions regarding his durability -- throughout his career, and he's handles those topics well. But he drew the line on Wednesday at the suggestion from Clark that Tagovailoa didn't work hard to get into proper shape to better protect himself this offseason.
Tagovailoa put on added muscle this past offseason in an effort to remain healthy -- he currently is listed at 227 pounds -- and trained in jiu-jitsu to help him better protect himself when falling.
"I think we all worked hard throughout the offseason," he said. "And I'm not someone to talk about myself the entire time, but it takes a lot. Do you think I wanted to build all this muscle? To some extent, I wanted to be a little lighter.
"There's a mixture of things that people don't understand, that people don't know about, that are talked about that go behind the scenes."
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