Jonathan Brown, never one for frills around the edges, says he wants to simply be remembered as a man who gave everything for the cause as he ends a decorated AFL career that spanned 256 games and three premierships.
Flanked by family, friends, the entire Lions playing group and former coach Leigh Matthews, Brown made his retirement official at the Gabba after receiving medical advice following another concussion. The risks of returning, he said, were simply too great.
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Jonathan Brown retires
After a career spanning 256 games Brisbane Lions champion Jonathan Brown has announced his retirement.
Brown informed his coach Justin Leppitsch of the decision on Sunday but only spoke to the playing group hours before making his decision public. His departure leaves Ash McGrath as the only Lions player to have played in the glory years of the triple premierships in 2001,2002 and 2003.
Brown's toughness was legendary and it wasn't long before that mark against Hawthorn in 2002, where he ran 40m before crashing through the pack, never taking his eyes off the ball once, was used as an example of his courage on the field.
Ironically, it was that bravery that also saw him suffer a series of serious head injuries later in his career as he put his body on the line time and again. After bouncing back before, this time Brown struggled to pass concussion tests and took the difficult decision to hang up his boots.
He said his reputation as a player would be enhanced by his premierships and the bond he shared with that group of players, including former coach Michael Voss and current assistant Simon Black, would last a lifetime.
"I'll be regarded as a better player than what I think I was, or what in reality I am, because of the fact that I played in a premiership. That's as simple as it gets. My reputation has been enhanced because I've been a premiership player," Brown said.
"I'm very thankful for that and that was a big driver of Leigh's in the early days, when he was trying to get us to buy in... all of our reputations will be greater if as individuals we give to the team.
"I just tried to give my all. I tried to enjoy myself but It's a 12-month a year job and as soon as you let your foot off the gas, you're gone. I always tried to work hard and enjoy it along the way."
Brown said he hadn't lost the desire to play but a heavy knock against GWS, to go on top of two serious facial fractures in recent seasons, was a 'wake up call'. After swirling the decision around in his head, a consult with two doctors made up his mind.
"It was a wake up call last Sat night. I had Leper's support, I had the medico's support. The shame is my body was quite sound that last month of the season. I felt I got a bit of that old sharpness back. Physically, I didn't think I'll be on the walking stick in the next five years. But the invisible injury is the head injury that nobody can really predict," Brown said.
"I don't want to dramatise it but it was a risk they didn't want me to take and eventually, i got my head around it and it wasn't a risk I was willing to take either."
Matthews coached Brown through the premiership years and beyond and said he was a player that never needed motivating, a man that had boundless reserves of drive and direction and was the ultimate competitor.
He said the mark against the Hawks at the MCG 12 years ago was one of the most astounding things he'd ever seen on a football field.
"He must have have run about 40m watching the flight of the ball and took that chest mark running over the top of the pack. It's about the most amazing thing I've ever seen in a game of footy," Matthews said.
The powerful centre half-forward made his debut for the Lions during the 2000 season after he was drafted from TAC Cup side Geelong Falcons.
Hailing from the Victorian country town of Warrnambool, Brown said he idolised the Lions as a youngster because his father Brian played for the club when it was formerly known as Fitzroy.
He said his "heart bled for the Lions from the very start and all the way through".
Brown said he was content with his decision to give the game away and that Leppitsch had not put him under any pressure to continue playing. He captained the side from 2007 to 2013, booting 594 goals in his 14-year career.
Brown will be farewelled at halftime at the Gabba on Saturday night and will remain with the club until the end of the season, as well as return in 2015 in a part-time advisory role. He said he wanted to further his media commitments after football and would remain living in Brisbane with his young family.