Former NRL tough man James Graham admitted that the concussion consequences of his long career in the rugby league were at one point “something worth dying”.
Graham has had a long-standing relationship with blows to the head, especially for his controversial position on the issue which has made him one of the most outspoken figures in the game on the subject.
Amid growing code concern, Graham once said, “It’s my life, I’m going to do whatever I want … well, in some areas. What’s the alternative? I kinda like what I want to do … well, in some areas. I do. The consequences are sometimes you get hit in the head.
“You have to go play Oztag if you don’t feel like playing in the league anymore.”
However, in light of recent concussion cases in the league over the weekend – which pitted Roosters veteran Jake Friend in a fight for his career – Graham admitted his once flippant position was part of an image he was trying to portray. at the time.
“I think it was well documented that I said things that were potentially me trying to portray this image of who I needed to be,” the Englishman told NRL 360 from Fox Sports.
“He was my public figure and part of that was having a reputation on the pitch as a guy who didn’t really care. Wanting to be that guy and wanting to be feared.
“During this trip, I asked the doctors questions about the risks and then I asked myself questions. And was I going to favor the present over the future?
“It’s a very complex question. And I had to think deeply about what I wanted to do and what the consequences were of hanging up my boots because of a concussion or the potential for future brain disease.
“Where was the goal going to be fulfilled in my life? I personally felt I needed a cause. I thought about what life meant. Maybe for me to find the meaning of life was about finding something worth dying for. “
In 2019, Graham became the first active player in the rugby league to agree to donate his brain to science in an effort to help further research on concussions.
“I guess when I die my brain and spinal cord, if I’m in Sydney, will go to the University of Sydney for them to look at, examine them and hopefully something good can come of it.” Graham said at the time.
“I think the more players of all codes that can register, it can only lead to more research and finding the answers to what is a very delicate and complex situation.
“Now that it’s out there, now that it’s been confirmed that they’ve found CTE in some former NRL players, it’s bringing the concussion talk back to the table.”