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Williams appeal on brain damage

GREG WILLIAMS says he has gone public with his revelations of brain damage in a bid to help footballers of all ages.

Williams, 49, confirmed in a television interview on Seven on Sunday what those close to him have known for some time - that he has memory loss and mood swings. The dual Brownlow medallist and 1995 Carlton premiership star believes this is due to repeated hits to the head during his 250-game career with Geelong, Sydney and Carlton.

Asked on Monday about his concerns for his long-term health, Williams replied: ''I am worried about it. But there are things you can still do. I am not going to give up on it. The specialist said he can help, do things every day to stimulate your brain.''

Williams said he was tired of hearing administrators say AFL footballers were unlikely to suffer the degenerative brain disease, chronic traumatic encephalopathy. This is the result of repeated blows to the head and has become a major concern in American hockey and football leagues.

The disease is responsible for memory loss, depression, major mood swings and has led to the suicide of former players. It can only be diagnosed after death.

''They [administrators] have been in denial on this, that it doesn't exist,'' Williams said. ''It's just bullshit. They are saying that for a reason.


''They have taken the bump out of the game - you can't bump the head, that's all good. But there have got to be more changes. It's not just AFL players, it's juniors. I know kids that play three games on the weekend. I am trying to protect the game as well.''

Williams, who was concussed four times, said players should have up to two months off after a heavy concussion. On average, there are six or seven concussions a team a season. Kurt Tippett, then with Adelaide, and North Melbourne's Lachlan Hansen were prominent cases last season.

''They have got to protect players, like Joel Selwood and these guys. They can't help themselves,'' Williams said. ''They are too courageous for their own good. When they get knocked out, they have got to have the right procedures in place to not play for a month or two months.

Former North Queensland rugby league player Shaun Valentine, 36, was told after taking part in the same Deakin University study as Williams he had the response times of a man 20 years older. He left the game after six concussions in two seasons.

Williams said the AFL and the AFL Players Association needed to do more.

Player agent Peter Jess, a long-time concussion campaigner, agreed.

''Clubs are self-insuring only while players are on their list,'' he said. ''There are no provisions for long-term issues, which is the basis of what this is all about.''

However, AFLPA player relations manager Ian Prendergast said it was up to the Victorian state government to change the rules so players could be covered under workers' compensation.