AFL Stands by Maynard Acquittal Despite Brayshaw Concussion Controversy

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The Australian Football League (AFL) has opted not to contest the tribunal’s acquittal of Brayden Maynard following a collision that concussed Melbourne’s Angus Brayshaw. This validation secures the presence of the Collingwood defender in the Magpies’ preliminary final, a certainty emerging from the league’s resolution.

This move arrives after the AFL initially chose to charge Maynard, pressing for his case to undergo tribunal scrutiny, a reversal of match review officer Michael Christian’s initial disposition not to implicate him. The final judgement came post noon Wednesday, publicized via a statement affirming the league’s measured deliberation before reaching this verdict.

In the course of a rigorous four-hour session on Tuesday evening, the tribunal absolved Maynard of any misconduct. The panel reasoned that his attempt to block Brayshaw’s kick during the inaugurating quarter of the qualifying final was a valid response. Furthermore, they held that Maynard’s response, where he swiveled his shoulder and accidentally collided with Brayshaw’s head, was inevitable, given the lack of time to respond otherwise.

The aftermath of the collision rendered Brayshaw, who has a prior concussion history, unconscious for approximately two minutes. Shaun Smith, a former Demons player and the father of Joel, another player, dubbed the ruling as an “embarrassment and an absolute joke”.

In a Facebook post, Smith vehemently criticized the tribunal’s verdict, branding it as “absolutely disgusting” and referring to the AFL as a “disgusting organisation”. The former player, aged 54, who blames repeated concussions during his football career for his persistent mental health issues post-retirement, has pledged his brain to the Australian Sport Brain Bank for research, suspecting a possibility of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). In 2020, he received a remarkable insurance sum of $1.4m for the irreversible brain damage caused by concussions incurred during his playing career.

Following the incident, Brayshaw was seen exercising at Casey Fields on Tuesday. Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin noted an evident improvement in his condition, but remained ambiguous about his return during the finals series. The coach confirmed that while retirement has not been discussed with Brayshaw, the club has not ruled out any possibilities prioritising the health of the player.

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Melinda Cochrane is a poet, teacher and fiction author. She is also the editor and publisher of The Inspired Heart, a collection of international writers. Melinda also runs a publishing company, Melinda Cochrane International books for aspiring writers, based out Montreal, Quebec. Her publication credits include: The art of poetic inquiry, (Backalong Books), a novella, Desperate Freedom, (Brian Wrixon Books Canada), and 2 collections of poetry; The Man Who Stole Father’s Boat, (Backalong Books), and She’s an Island Poet, Desperate Freedom was on the bestseller's list for one week, and The Man Who Stole Father’s Boat is one of hope and encouragement for all those living in the social welfare system. She’s been published in online magazines such as, (regular writer for) ‘Life as a Human’, and Shannon Grissom’s magazine.

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