BRISBANE Lions champion Jonathan Brown put family first as he called time on his illustrious AFL career yesterday.
South Warrnambool’s favourite son retired, effective immediately, with 256 games and three premierships to his credit after a head knock nine days earlier forced him to confront his football future.
Brown, regarded as one of the Hampden league’s greatest exports, said it was the right decision for him and his family.
His wife Kylie is due to give birth to their third child soon.
“It wasn’t worth the risk of going out there and copping another head knock and jeopardising my future with my wife and kids,” Brown said.
“I’ve got to keep pretty sharp for the young fella, to chase him around.
“You could always play that one more game, but it only takes one instance to cause some serious damage.
“You have to consider the future and I’ve spent some time with Kylie and the kids over the past few days and that underlined for me some of the most important things in life.”
Brown’s final appearance for the Lions was against Greater Western Sydney on June 14.
The burly forward was concussed in a collision with Giant Tomas Bugg. It was his fourth serious head knock.
The 2007 Coleman medallist’s string of concussions stemmed back to 2011, when he collided with Fremantle defender Luke McPharlin’s knee in the opening round. He returned that year, only to re-injure himself in round 17.
A third head knock in a training accident with teammate Matt Maguire in early 2012 followed.
Brown, 32, said he was content with his decision and would spend the remainder of the season helping out the 17th-placed Lions in a mentoring role.
“It’s a very difficult time, but at the same time I’m very happy on reflection,” he said.
“Unfortunately though, the last week or so it’s become evident after my concussion last week that I don’t respond or bounce back like I used to from those hits.
“I had pretty strong medical advice this week that it was in my best interest to stop. It’s been a hard pill to swallow, even though deep down inside I knew that was the right answer.
“The desire to play footy was still there, but at the end of the day I think it is the right time to hang up the boots.” Brown played 11 games in his final season.
He’d kicked 21 goals to bring his career tally to 594.
The former Brisbane skipper fell agonisingly short of the 600-goal milestone reached by his contemporaries Matthew Pavlich (Fremantle), Nick Riewoldt (St Kilda) and Lance Franklin (Hawthorn and Sydney) this season.
Brown leaves the game with an enviable resume — he was a five-time Lions’ leading goal kicker, 2001, 2002, 2003 premierships player, two-time All-Australian and three-time club best and fairest winner.