Retired Dee Brayshaw urges AFL to do more on concussion

Oliver Caffrey |

Melbourne star Angus Brayshaw has been forced into retirement due to concussion.
Melbourne star Angus Brayshaw has been forced into retirement due to concussion.

Melbourne premiership player Angus Brayshaw has urged the AFL to be “proactive rather than reactive” in dealing with head trauma after he was forced into premature retirement because of concussion.

The 28-year-old informed the club on Thursday he would be bowing out of football, effective immediately, after extensive neurological testing revealed a deterioration of his brain.

Brayshaw, who had previously had serious head knocks and wore a helmet, was concussed after Collingwood defender Brayden Maynard attempted to smother the Demons midfielder’s kick in the first quarter of last year’s qualifying final.

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Angus Brayshaw of Melbourne lies on the field after sustaining an injury against Collingwood. (Joel Carrett/AAP PHOTOS)

Maynard escaped suspension for the controversial bump, which divided the football world and prompted the AFL to tinker with rules on smothers.

“We have made great strides in this space, but there is more that needs to be done to safeguard the brains of players not only in the AFL ranks, but from grassroots all the way up,” Brayshaw wrote in an open letter published on Melbourne’s website.

“I believe the future of our game will be strongly impacted by how we deal with this element of player safety as more information comes to light. 

“I hope the AFL will be proactive in the future when it comes to the safety of its players as opposed to reactive, so we can continue to enjoy this amazing game and protect the brains of the players. 

“They must be sacrosanct.”

Brayshaw was ruled out of the Demons’ finals campaign, eventually returning to a modified training program.

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Brayden Maynard of Collingwood checks over Angus Brayshaw after he sustained the injury. (Joel Carrett/AAP PHOTOS)

But recent scan results meant Brayshaw had no other option than to retire from all contact sports.

“Scans taken two weeks after the qualifying final against Collingwood compared to scans taken last week revealed further deterioration of my brain as a direct result of the incident I was involved in,” he wrote.

Brayshaw bows out after having played 167 games, including the Demons’ 2021 grand-final win, since debuting in 2015.

He suffered significant concussion issues early in his career, leading to him taking an extended break in 2017.

“I am absolutely shattered and did not see this reality coming to pass,” Brayshaw wrote.

“Whilst this medical retirement is devastating, I appreciate the severity of the situation as well as anyone. 

“I respect the verdict of the medical professionals and agree with their desire to put the health of my brain before the future of my AFL career.”

Brayshaw said he would miss playing for Melbourne but was optimistic about the next stage of his life.

“I know the coming days will be sad and upsetting for me (I am crying as I am writing this) and many others,” he wrote.

“I know that it’s important to acknowledge that this is tough, but I also think that perspective is important. 

“This decision that has been made for me is to protect my long-term health. That is a good thing. I hope to live a long and full life.”

Brayshaw’s retirement comes after Collingwood defender Nathan Murphy was last week put on a modified training program indefinitely after suffering a concussion in last year’s grand final win against the Brisbane Lions.

Former St Kilda and Sydney tall Paddy McCartin retired last August due to ongoing issues relating to concussion.

AFL football boss Laura Kane said she supported Brayshaw’s decision to retire. 

“Angus’ health and wellbeing is of the upmost importance and his decision, made in consultation with his medical team, is one more courageous act that Angus consistently demonstrated throughout his decorated career,” Kane said in a statement.

“Angus’ contribution to footy on the field is well documented and we look forward to his continued contribution to our game off the field in the coming years.”

AAP