by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago
Brisbane's Jonathan Brown, 32, was certain to retire at the end of the season. But another concussion, suffered in Round 13 when his head collided with Giants' Tomas Bugg's hip has seen him retire immediately. Brown was doing what he has always done - throwing himself into a contest and a pack of players. The impact left him dazed and brought down the curtain on an amazing career. Brown was advised by doctors to retire and Brown, who said he was still feeling the effects a week later, admitted it was getting more difficult to bounce back.
In making the announcement on June 20, just ahead of Round 14, Brown said, "It wasn't worth the risk of going out there and copping another head knock and jeopardizing my future with my wife and kids." He said he "did not want to dramatize" his doctor's advice. "I'm OK, I'm going to recover. I'm sure my symptoms will clear up pretty soon." He did however admit that this latest knock and the resulting concussion was a "wake-up" call. In 2011, Brown suffered two concussions in collisions which also resulted in facial fractures and subsequent surgeries to repair the damage. It was not the first time for Brown. In 2002, he ran back with the flight of the ball, showing no regard for the oncoming players. He crashed headlong into the pack to catch the ball. It won him the "Mark of the Year" award and the admiration of his then coach Leigh Matthews. Matthews, who has been rated as one of the toughest men ever to play the game, described Brown's action as "the most amazing thing I think I've ever seen in a game of footy". Matthews also said, affectionately but bluntly, that Brown "would be an idiot" not to follow the medical advice he had received. Brisbane Coach Justin Leppitsch said he was relieved for Brown, alongside whom he played in the Lions' three Premierships. Although Brown felt he still had some football left in him and it went against the grain to call it quits, he said Leppitsch telling him he owed the club nothing made the decision easier. He also failed several concussion tests in the week leading up to Round 14.
Brown paid tribute to his wife Kylie, who he said had suffered the past few years with him "putting his head in the wrong spot". He also paid tribute to his teammates, saying his own reputation had been enhanced by the club's team success early in his career. Brown will remain with the club in an off-field capacity while deciding his long-term future. Brown did not forget Brisbane's Fitzroy connection. He would have been eligible to play for Fitzroy under the father-son rule, "I was fortunate enough that I was a Lions supporter ... as my father Brian played for Fitzroy. My heart bled for the Lions from the very start, so it made it a lot easier ... It's probably come at a price to my body, but I wouldn't change it for the world ... I love this footy club and that'll be with me forever."
No sooner had he made his announcement than the tributes poured in on Twitter from teammates, former teammates, opponents and fans. The common threads of all were congratulations on his career, great bloke, great player and a true champion of the game. Brown was given a lap of honor and paid tributes at the Round 15 game at the Gabba.
AFL Games: 256
AFL Goals: 594
AFL Mark of the Year 2002
All Australian 2007, 2009
Coleman Medal 2007
AFLPA Best Captain 2007, 2009
AFLPA Most Courageous Player 2007, 2008, 2011
AFLPA MVP Runner-up 2007
All Australian Preliminary Squad 2008
Lions Premiership 2001, 2002, 2003
Lions Most Improved Player 2001
Lions Most Professional Player 2005, 2009
Lions Best Clubman 2005
Lions Team of the Decade Member 2006
Lions Best Forward 2007, 2008
Lions Club Champion 2007, 2008, 2009
Lions Most Courageous Player 2007, 2010
Lions Leading Goal-Kicker 2007, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013
Lions Co-Captain 2007-2008, 2013
Lions Members' Player of the Year 2009, 2010
Lions Captain 2009-2012
Lions Life Member 2009
3rd Lions Club Champion 2010
Lions Preseason Premiership 2013
Brown’s 256 senior matches rank him 13th on the club’s all-time games record list (including Fitzroy and the Bears), while he recently surpassed Terry Wallace (254 games) as the all-time VFL/AFL games record-holder in the number 16 guernsey. He finishes his career as Brisbane’s greatest ever goalkicker and ranks third behind Alastair Lynch (633 goals with Fitzroy/Bears/Lions) and Jack Moriarty (626 goals). In 2007 he became only the fourth player in club history to have won a Coleman Medal as the competition’s leading goalkicker, joining Jim Freake (1915), Jack Moriarty (1924), and Bernie Quinlan (1983-84)
Less than two weeks before Brown's retirement, West Coast defender Darren Glass, 33, called it a day. Glass said ankle and hip injuries have dogged him all season. Although he signed a one year contract at the end of 2013, he now believes he tried to go on for one season too many. In making the announcement Glass said, "At the end of last season I was really confident I could play this year, but it hasn't panned out that way ... I have been struggling to string a couple of games together ... and feel like it's time I step aside and let someone else come in ... I'm not confident of playing any decent and good consistent footy in the back half of the year".
Glass revealed he had been talking to Coach Adam Simpson for several weeks prior to his announcement and says he knew it was time when he felt the soreness after the Round 12 loss to Hawthorn. He said that "The aim was to see if the ankle and the hip could be feeling a little better, but it wasn't the case". Glass played the first three games of the season but missed the Round Four match against Geelong, the game in which his long-time teammate Dean Cox broke Glen Jakovich's club games record. He said missing that match was the moment he knew he would not see out the year. Both Simpson and Eagles' chief executive Trevor Nisbett tried to convince Glass to play a farewell game in Round 13 against Gold Coast but the veteran had no interest in playing for the wrong reasons.
Coach Adam Simpson summed up the regard in which Glass is held when he stated, "He's an All-Australian captain as a key defender ... How often do you see that? That speaks volumes of where he's held, not only at the club, but across the competition. And to be club captain too. How many key defenders are captain? Not just three or four years, but seven ... He's a legend of the club." Simpson was an opponent during his playing days with North Melbourne and said he had some preconceptions about the West Coast players before coming to Perth. He said his perception of Glass before meeting him matched the man he met, "I spoke to the players ... and the perception of Darren has been not a bad word spoken about him ... He's an elite player. He'll walk away really satisfied with his career ... it's disappointing to see it end quickly like this - but ... once again he's put the club first."
Simpson said he might rotate the captaincy between vice-captains Scott Selwood and Josh Kennedy, but it would be discussed with the leadership group. Glass has no immediate plans but said he would like to hang around the club and stay involved as a mentor. Simpson said that wasn’t something he’d need to negotiate, "He's contracted. We hope that he hangs around." Club CEO Trevor Nisbett was also full of praise for Glass, whose career coincides with Nisbett's as both arrived at the club in 1999. Despite all of Glass' magnificent playing achievements, Nisbett believes that his contribution to the club off the field is possibly his greatest legacy. Glass took over the captaincy in 2008 after Chris Judd departed for Carlton. At the time, controversy surrounded the club after revelations of a drug culture and the subsequent sacking of Ben Cousins. Nisbett said Glass' leadership held the club together, "He was the lynch-pin ... If he didn't buy in to what we were trying to do, you don't have any chance ... he was the first one to put his hand up and say, 'I'm in, we need to change this" ... it took us three or four years to do that. Cultural change is probably the most difficult thing. He has now left a legacy." Nisbett said Glass should be ranked among the most important contributors in the club's history and believes Glass ranks alongside former champion and coach John Worsfold as one of the club greats. Nisbett continued, "Probably in this era, he's as important as anyone ... he not only played in the early 2000s, but he helped change the culture and ... he drove it."
Nisbett believes Glass would walk into the AFL's Hall of Fame as soon as he is eligible, "I would be very surprised if he didn't with his record ... Three club champion awards, four All Australians, All Australian captain, premiership player and a remarkable person." Only Jakovich and Cousins won more club Best and Fairest awards. Glass does not see himself that way, describing himself as a battler and a scragger, defending the way "a defender should defend - desperately ... I had my limitations as a player, but loved playing the game, loved competing."
Drafted: 1999, selection 11
Debut: Round 4, 2000 v Adelaide
HONORS: Club Champion 2007, 2009, 2011; runner-up Club Champion 2006;
All Australian 2006, 2007, 2011, 2012 (captain);
West Coast Eagles captain 2007-2014 (129 matches)
Premiership player 2006.
Source: theage.com.au, afl.com.au, lions.com.au
Article last changed on Thursday, July 03, 2014 - 4:41 AM EDT