Researchers at Monash University in Melbourne conducted a study between 2017 and 2019. The study, published in the journal Biomarker Research, carried out baseline blood tests on between 100 and 200 Melbourne University Blacks players in the preseason each year. They then followed up with more blood tests and MRI scans on 28 players who had suffered concussions. Blood samples were then collected at two, six and thirteen day intervals. The researchers found a biomarker protein called Neurofilament light (NfL). Elevated levels of NfL is an indicator for damaged brain cells.
In mid-December during an online forum for members, Collingwood president Eddie McGuire made the shock announcement that he would be stepping down at the end of the 2021 season. It was reported that he was choking back tears when he made the announcement. McGuire said, “I have given everything I have to this position. Now it is time for me to set the platform for the club going forward ... I will ... spend the rest of my time ... setting up a new era ... In conjunction with the change in direction of my media life and the timing of my son’s schooling ending, the time was right and the future strong for our club for me to make this call.” During his time as president, he never once was challenged for the role when he was up for re-election.
The preseason and rookie drafts were held about a week after the National Draft. The rookie list was primarily used to officially relist senior players as rookies. They included Grant Birchall (Brisbane), Sam Reid (GWS Giants), Marty Gleeson (Essendon), Dylan Clarke (Essendon), Roarke Smith (Western Bulldogs), Daniel Venables (West Coast) and Bailey Banfield (Fremantle).
Collingwood defender Tom Langdon has been forced to retire due to a chronic knee injury. Langdon, 26, was drafted in 2013 and played 89 games for the Magpies. A mainstay of the backline, he was named one of the best on ground in the 2018 Grand Final against the Eagles. He suffered severe cartilage damage just two months into the 2019 season and has not played since. General manager of football Geoff Walsh paid tribute to Langdon, “Tom played some wonderful football ... and it was a sad day when the reality of his premature retirement arrived.
In mid-November, the AFL announced that club lists will be the following: 36 to 38 senior players, 4-6 Category A rookies and two Category B rookies. Rookie listed players will be allowed to play senior football without having to be elevated to the senior list. So many clubs have had to make hard calls on players, with some clubs even demoting senior players to rookie lists. Although there have already been some trades and free agent signings, the free agency period ran November 25 through November 29 with the first list lodgment due November 25 ahead of the free agency period.
Former Hawthorn star John Platten recently spoke to zerohanger.com about the issues he is having due to multiple concussions he suffered during his playing days and believes the huge insurance payout to Shaun Smith has set a milestone. He himself has joined in a class action suit against the AFL.
Just days after Travis Varcoe announced his retirement, Lynden Dunn did likewise. Collingwood also delisted midfielder Tim Broomhead and defender Matthew Harry Reynolds. All three have had injury setbacks during their careers and the trio made comebacks of sorts in 2020 but were unable to cement their places in the senior team. Dunn, 34, was drafted by Melbourne in 2004 and played 165 games. He played just four games in 2016 as the Demons opted for younger defenders and he was traded to the Magpies at the end of the year.
Hawthorn delisted Darren Minchington, Jackson Ross and Will Golds. Minchington, 26, was drafted by St Kilda in 2012 but injuries over the years restricted him to just 28 games. He was delisted at the end of 2018. He was signed by the Hawks as a delisted free agent for 2019 but never played a senior game. Two hamstring injuries bookended his season and he played just eight VFL games and was delisted once more However, the Hawks thrrew him a lifeline when Will Golds suffered a season-ending knee injury.
As the season nears to a close, more clubs not in contention have made cuts to their lists and a few more players have announced their retirements.
The Collingwood Magpies defeated the West Coast Eagles in an epic battle by one point, to knock the Eagles out of the final series. The Eagles had been unbeatable in their seven home ground games this year but were knocked off their perch when it mattered most. The Pies were thrashed by the Eagles at Optus Stadium earlier in the year and few pundits expected them to come out of a COVID-19 lockdown and trouble the home team. With their respective seasons on the line, both teams began the match nervously with players dropping marks (catches) and fumbling the ball in the opening minutes.