The widow of the late AFL great Danny Frawley has made an impassioned plea to league officials after admitting the events around Melbourne star Angus Brayshaw's concussion have left extended family members extremely traumatised. Collingwood's Brayden Maynard was on Tuesday night let off at the AFL Tribunal after the hit on Angus Brayshaw that has divided the footy world.
The AFL tribunal found that Maynard's actions to try and spoil were "reasonable" in the split-second circumstances. The AFL, who originally overruled match review officer Michael Christian and referred Maynard straight to the tribunal, have since revealed they won't appeal the decision.
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Melbourne great Shaun Smith, who was given a $1.4 million insurance payout in 2020 due to concussion symptoms, slammed the tribunal's verdict on social media and described the AFL as a "disgusting" organisation in the wake of Tuesday night's ruling. For the family of the late AFL great Frawley, however, the saga has brought back painful memories.
It's almost four years since Frawley died by suicide - leaving behind wife Anita and three daughters Chelsea, Keeley, and Danielle. Following his death, Frawley was later diagnosed with CTE – a brain disease related to repeated head trauma and linked to concussions.
Frawley's daughter Danielle also happens to be engaged to Brayshaw, with the sight of the Demons star lying unconscious on the MCG turf understandably difficult to watch for family members. Brayshaw has also had a history of concussions and there have been concerns in some circles that the incident with Maynard could spell a premature end to the career of the Melbourne star.
Anita Frawley wants greater protection for players' heads
Following the incident and on the eve of the four-year anniversary of her husband's death, Frawley's widow Anita released a heartbreaking statement in which she called for the sport to do more to protect players from head knocks and brain injuries. “The events of the past few days have been extremely traumatising for my family,” she told The Australian.
“We request that we be given privacy to deal with our ongoing trauma, especially during the week of the anniversary of Danny’s death. Discussions about CTE and concussion need to be ongoing and the protection of athletes’ brains has to be sacrosanct. There can be no diversion from this as we, as a family, do not want to see anyone else go through the trauma and pain that has and continues to effect us.”
AFL opts against appealing Tribunal's decision
The AFL has admitted that while it has no grounds to appeal Tuesday night's Tribunal ruling which cleared Maynard, it could tweak rules around footy actions that lead to contact with an opponent's head. "The health and safety of players in our game will always be the AFL's priority and regardless of the tribunal outcome this incident will be subject to close examination at the end of the season," the AFL said in a statement.
"The AFL has actively taken action to minimise the incidence of concussion in our game and has continued to make considered decisions to protect the health and safety of our athletes, including by making further rule changes to deter avoidable forceful head high contact in our game as has been done in over 30 instances over the past two decades."
The AFL's football manager Laura Kane - who was instrumental in overruling the MRO and sending Maynard straight to the Tribunal - admitted the AFL would have appealed the decision to clear the Collingwood player if it believed there were grounds to do so. She was, however, refused to be drawn on reports that MRO officer Michael Christian threatened to resign after initially wanting the Maynard charge thrown out.
"In terms of what occurred on Friday, Chrisso is passionate. He's passionate about football. He's passionate about his role and he holds it at utmost importance," Kane added. "We worked through this incident and as you saw on Friday evening, we released a joint statement which referred this matter to the tribunal.
"There's no issue (with Christian). I won't enter into hypotheticals but I'm really comfortable with the model that we have. I was in regular contact with Michael all weekend."
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