Brayden Maynard got his man, and lived to tell the tale.
The Maynard-Angus Brayshaw incident has been well-documented, and became one of the biggest tribunal hearings this century.
We all know what happened: Brayshaw is running towards the Melbourne 50m line and kicks the ball, Maynard is charging at him from the other direction, jumps up to smother, turns his shoulder upon landing, and knocks Brayshaw out.
Plenty of different reactions have dominated the media over the last five or six days. Most of it was along the lines of Maynard not having any choice once he had committed to the smother, up against the idea that the head is supposed to be sacrosanct, and the fact was Maynard left the ground, and bumped an opponent that was left concussed.
Very few people actually understood the heart of the matter.
Any person taking the line of “what else was Maynard supposed to do?” is either a borderline simpleton, running an agenda, or perhaps just lacks nuance and understanding of how a player like Maynard goes about his business.
No one in football can remember an incident like this, where a player jumping to smother has landed in such a way that it concussed the opponent that is kicking. Funny that, isn’t it?
Maynard is a player that likes to play on the edge. Some would call him a faux-tough guy for some of his in-your-face antics, but he is a hard player – he attacks the ball and man with courage and intensity, prepared to use his body as a battering ram and take the hits that come his way.
But remember, it was only last year he was suspended for two matches for striking.
He is happy to cross the line.
But players that play on the edge – others like Patrick Dangerfield and Toby Greene also come to mind – always have a mindset of making an opponent “earn it” when they can. And we’re not talking like it was yesteryear, with Tony Lockett or Gary Ablett Sr crushing the occasional opponent with a forearm, fist or elbow. We’re talking about using aggression in the contest to get away with just a little bit more.
We’ve seen Dangerfield be suspended in his career for both dangerous tackles and bumps, and it’s still laughable three years later that he avoided a 4-6 week suspension for his forearm to the jaw of Nick Vlastuin in the 2020 Grand Final, knocking him out cold.
Toby Greene has also made a career of several ungainly “accidents”, protested his innocence each time, yet still been found guilty on many occasions.
Isn’t it just amazing how many times these type of players are involved in “accidents”? Knock me over with a feather when Dangerfield and Greene both spoke publicly this week about how Maynard should get off under “what else was he supposed to do, nothing to see here”.
Make no mistake about it, Brayden Maynard was happy to cause a collision after attempting the smother last Thursday. Of course he was. He wanted to put a bit of hurt on a Melbourne opponent, because this was the opening minutes of a final, and a statement was going to be made.
Some posed that if it was Scott Pendlebury coming the other way, he would have found a way to avoid dropping his shoulder into the chin, knocking him out. Of course he would have! Same if it had been his mother or grandmother coming the other way. So, yeah, he wanted the collision.
Also ask yourself about why the Dangerfields, Greenes and Maynards of the world end up in these situations?
Why hasn’t Pendlebury ever “accidentally” concussed someone in a smother attempt across 381 games? Why hasn’t he ever “accidentally” knocked someone out with his attack on the ball and man? Why didn’t Marc Murphy in his career? Gary Ablett Jr?
Looking at a more inside bull, it’s funny how Christian Petracca has also never had any of these accidents.
Nope. Maynard wanted to hit. Maynard wanted to hurt. And most of all, he wanted to do it in a way that could be disguised as a football action. He performed it so brilliantly, he is free to play in the preliminary final next week, and could be wearing a premiership medal around his neck on September 30.
Whether football actions should lead to a suspension or what path the AFL must take on concussion, are complex issues in a 360 degree game that has an element of danger at its core. But don’t let that cloud this particular issue – Brayden Maynard knew what he was doing and got away with it.