Greg Cary’s thoughts on Jonathan Brown’s courageous retirement.

There is something both appropriate yet strangely unsettling about the premature retirement of Australian Rules legend, Jonathan Brown.


Greg Cary

Premature only in so far as he was going to call it a day at the end of this season anyway but nonetheless unsettling to see one of the game’s toughest and bravest men wisely surrender to the increasing number of head injures he has received in recent years.

Courage is, of course, reflected in knowing when to fight but also in acknowledging when the odds are against you and that it’s best to leave on your own terms. A sense of perspective helps – there’s a time for football but even more for a growing family.

Jonathan has long been recognised as one of the modern giants (in all ways), striding colossus-like across three generations of players. His presence along with his feats will linger in the memories of a million  admirers. And not just  Aussie rules fans. Greatness transcends all boundaries.

Statistics tell part of the story (15 seasons, 256 games, 3 premierships) but not all. He was a prodigious talent as a youngster, a formidable opponent as an integral member of a champion team, and a competitive teammate, mentor and leader as his team evolved. During The Lions last few barren years he never gave less than his all even when there was clearly less to give.

And that created it’s own problems.

A body already wracked by years of fierce and selfless competition continued to throw itself at the ball and opponents with no regard for safety or survival. For this he has paid a terrible price. At a time when the sporting world is, belatedly, trying to get a handle on the extent to which the brain is injured in serious head clashes and concussions, Jonathan’s exit is timely and,hopefully, his future will be free of damage done during one of the most brilliant careers of this or any other era.

A Lion leaves the stage – battered, proud, unconquered.