Southpaw Slinger: How Tua Tagovailoa is Defying the Odds as the first Left-Handed QB in Years

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Allen Eyestone via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (1) heads onto the field at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, November 15, 2020. (ALLEN EYESTONE / THE PALM BEACH POST)

Mateo Arenas, staff writer

   In the game of American Football, the quarterback is the centerpiece of the team. The quarterback is the most recognizable, the most famous, and the most highly paid position in all of sports.
   Interestingly enough, the position has been largely dominated by right-handed athletes. In the history of the NFL, there had only been 32 left-handed QBs that had taken an NFL snap. Rookie 1st Round Draft Pick, Tua Tagovailoa, became the 33rd when he debuted late in the Dolphins Week 6 win against the Jets.
   “Being born left-handed is very rare, as only 10% of people are born left-handed. Due to this, many left-handed people shy away from a position that is predominantly held by righties. Tagovailoa is showing the youth that being left-handed should not be seen as a disadvantage,” said Dylan Gonzales, a football fanatic who attends Fresno State.
   Since the Week 6 game where Tua only threw 2 passes in garbage time, Tagovailoa has taken the NFL by storm after being named the Starter for the Miami Dolphins in Week 7. The Dolphins have won 3 straight games with Tua at the helm, leading the Dolphins to a 6-3 record, already surpassing their win total from just a year ago.
   “Tua or the southpaw slinger, a name befitting a lefty QB with so much promise, really has a chance to reshape the narrative of what a ‘traditional quarterback’ is, seeing that being a lefty at his position is very rare. Just as Lamar Jackson and Pat Mahomes have changed the status quo, I feel that lefty ball players could be encouraged to pursue their dreams of leading an offense as they watch Tua succeed. Being a southpaw myself, that’d certainly put a smile on my face,” proclaimed Dylan Freeman (11), a lefty himself and avid football fan.
  With that, the question arises, why have there been so few lefty QBs at the highest level of football? It seems to all boil down to be the stereotype as to what is seen as the “Prototypical Quarterback”, the strong armed, righty, pocket passers that have been the norm in the history of football.
   Steve Young is widely known as the greatest left-handed quarterback in NFL history, but because of this notion of the “prototypical quarterback”, fans almost never saw Young throw a single pass. As a freshman at BYU, Youngs’ Offensive Coordinator Doug Scovil refused to coach a quarterback that was left handed, prompting Young to be forced to move to safety. Young wouldn’t have ever had a shot if Scovil hadn’t left BYU to become the Head Coach at San Diego State, letting Young have the opportunity to break back into the QB room. Steve Young would go on to be a Super Bowl Champion and one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, while Scovil finished his career with a 45–51–3 record as a head coach.
   Tua became the first left-handed quarterback to start a NFL game since 2016 in his Week 8 victory over the Rams. Tagovailoa’s breakout brings hope that more young athletes will be less discouraged to try their hand at the illustrious position.
   “I think someone like Tua can change the standard even more and make lefty QBs even more of the norm. When a lefty QB starts to do well, it can encourage more and more lefties to play QB and carry down the same path. It’s too early to tell, but Tua can definitely have a far-reaching impact on the game,” explained Donald Coletta, a sports buff who has been impressed by Tua’s play in his young career.
   As the unlikely star, a left-handed quarterback from Ewa Beach, Hawaii, Tua Tagovailoa will look to continue to defy the odds and lead his Dolphins to their first playoff appearance in 4 years this season. Hopefully for the sport, his biggest win will be to inspire a generation of left-handed quarterbacks to chase their dreams, and one day lineup under center like Tua.