AFL legend Nicky Winmar fears that he will be the next former star to be hit by a deadly brain disease caused by repeated concussions.
The former star of St Kilda was shocked by the diagnosis of football icon Graham “Polly” Farmer with chronic traumatic encephalopathy this week.
Farmer died in August 84 at the age of 84 as a result of what was believed to be Alzheimer’s, but after tests on his brain it was confirmed that he was the first proven case of AFL of CTE.
Since the disease was discovered in American football players, it has shaken contact sports around the world with thousands of potential cases.
AFL legend Nicky Winmar fears that he will be the next former star to be hit by a deadly brain disease caused by repeated concussions
Graham “Polly” Farmer (pictured right with Daniel Wells in 2005) died in August at the age of 84 from what was believed to be Alzheimer’s, but after tests on his brain it was confirmed that it was AFL’s first proven case of CTE
Winmar, 54, said he was horrified at Farmer’s report while seeing many of the symptoms in himself.
He has now called on the competition to take the problem seriously.
“Don’t mess with our lives, tell us the truth and let us know what’s going on … the fear will always be there, “he told the West Australian.
‘You forget things and everything. One moment I am OK, not the next. You don’t know what’s going to happen. “
Farmer’s diagnosis has led to new calls to “change the structure of the game” to protect players from concussions and their long-lasting effects.
AFL Players Association boss Paul Marsh said that many more CTE diagnoses were “inevitable” and that many stars had already retired to protect themselves.
They include Liam Picken, Matt Maguire, Sam Blease, Jack Frost, Justin Clarke, Patrick McCartin, Leigh Adams and Kobe Stevens.
Jackson Nelson of the Eagles commits concussion while teammate Dom Sheed controls him during the AFL First Elimination Final 2019
James Frawley of the Melbourne Demons gets off the ground after sustaining a head injury during a 2013 AFL NAB Cup round due to a collision in a pack.
Winmar (pictured next to his statue at the Optus Stadium of Perth in 2019) recalled that unlike today’s footballers who have to pass a series of tests to play again after showing concussions, players of his era immediately hit the field were sent on
Port Adelaide premiership coach Mark Williams said the first step was to ban the hip and shoulder, also known as the hump, although it is an important part of the game.
“I don’t understand why we run into it. I remember that Byron Pickett was rubbed out for six weeks for a bump and I explained it to everyone at that stage – why not eliminate bumps and just tackle, “he told the Herald Sun..
Top sports physician Peter Larkins went even further and claimed that ‘the structure of the game’ had to be radically changed to make it safe for players.
“We are known for our physical sport, we are known for our approach, we are known for bumping, overseas people like to watch the game,” he said.
“Maybe we have fooled ourselves, maybe we should make the game less physical. I can’t believe I say that, I like to watch footy. “
Other players have expressed concern in the aftermath of Farmer’s diagnosis and recall their own serious punches and similar symptoms at retirement.
Graham Farmer diagnosed with CTE
Tissue from the brain of Graham ‘Polly’ Farmer was analyzed at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney at the end of last year.
A medical report showed that the Aboriginal had a large phase III CTE, although doctors said it was “more a 3.5” and the worst case they had seen.
Farmer’s daughter Kim said that the West Australian major had had a concussion several times in his career and decided to continue playing.
“He had an enormous pain threshold. Contact was expected and he saw it as a professional risk … he would just treat it with Dencorub, “she said.
AFL legend Graham “Polly” Farmer (photo) had a serious brain disease caused by head injury on the field, was revealed this week
“Dad’s threshold for pain and the ability to never focus on it, to point it out, or to draw attention to it, continued until his death. He never wanted us to know he was suffering. “
Farmer’s son Brett added: ‘I have memories of Dad lying on the couch with a bucket and vomiting after playing. And it hasn’t happened a few times. ”
The neurodegenerative disease is caused by repeated head injury and often results in dementia.
Farmer is anchored as one of the 28 legends in the AFL Hall of Fame and played 356 games with Geelong and WAFL clubs East Perth and Perth.
The 6 km Graham Farmer Freeway in Perth was named in his honor.
Shaun Smith, 50, said he had been “knocked out” a dozen times in his 109-game career and that there were probably “a thousand Polly Farmers.”
‘I just went tick, tick, tick, tick, tick. It was like reading about me. I felt sad for the Farmer family, “he said about reading the symptoms of the deceased legend.
Richmond Deputy Captain Jack Riewoldt said revelations about Farmer were “scary” and made him look back on his own concussion in a more disturbing light.
Former players remembered that, unlike today, where concussion footballers have to pass a series of tests to play again, players of their era were sent directly onto the field.
“Sometimes it wasn’t good, but the coaches, it was ultimately their choice. Often I had a concussion and I went out and I thought I’d vomit, “Winmar said.
Matt Maguire, who retired at the age of 31 after some concussions, said he feared children playing the game aggressively.
“I grew up never taking your eyes off the ball, and if you do, you’re a coward,” he said.
Shaun Smith, 50, (right) said he was “knocked out” twelve times in his 109-game career and that there were probably “a thousand Polly Farmers.”
Paddy McCartin of the Saints leaves the field with possible concussions during the preseason of 2019
Farmer’s diagnosis has also given a boost to a brewing process on behalf of 250 former players who believe that concussion has not been properly handled by the AFL.
Health experts have recommended that junior players should only be tackled if they are at least 15 – much later than the current rules allow.
Some junior clubs have even begun making the use of headgear compulsory, although there is no evidence that they prevent concussions and players may take more risks.
The competition made $ 50 million in profits last year, but spends only $ 250,000 a year on concussion investigations – all funded by fines for players.
“The AFL thanks the Farmer family for their important contribution to research in this area, further enhancing Mr. Farmer’s legacy in Australian football,” the competition said.
“The health and safety of all players in our game is of the utmost importance and as knowledge and understanding of concussion have increased, the AFL has strengthened match day protocols, changed game rules to discourage further contact and improved identification of potential concussions . incidents due to the use of video. “
What is chronic traumatic encephalopathy?
* CTE is a type of dementia, a degenerative brain disease
* It is caused by repeated blows to the head but not necessarily concussion
* Symptoms include changes in mood and personality, difficulty in thinking, impulsive behavior and short-term memory loss
* It is often found among athletes in contact sports and military personnel
* Symptoms may occur years or decades after the last head injury
* CTE can only be determined after death
* There is no medicine
AFL legend Graham “Polly” Farmer died at the age of 84. The West Australian ruckman is officially anchored as one of the 28 legends in the AFL Hall of Fame
* Originally called ‘punch drunk syndrome’, it has been known to affect boxers since the 1920s
* The first official case in another sport was an American NFL player in 2005
* Other sports followed, including ice hockey, football and rugby association
* The first cases of Australia – two former rugby league players – were reported in 2019
* The deceased Polly Farmer is the first diagnosed former AFL player
* Doctors say ex-English football captain Dave Watson, who has a neurodegenerative disease, probably has CTE
* The Australian Sports Brain Bank was established in 2018 to investigate the relationship between concussion and disease
* A class action against the NFL that was settled in 2017 included the establishment of a compensation fund for affected players, which has so far paid out $ US671 million ($ A1 billion)
* Australian law firms say they have been preparing for five years for class actions by former NRL and AFL players against the country’s two most important football codes
* All British football clubs move to a ban among 12-18 teams that head the ball to protect brain development.