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Tugga27

Norm Smith Medallist
Jun 19, 2017
6,556
9,003
AFL Club
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Apologies to the mods for posting the whole article, but I think it needs to be read.

Daniel Venables Q&A: Eagles premiership player details the incident and brain injury that changed his life and ended his career
Daniel Venables is the first player to be forced into retirement by an AFL panel. He opens up on the split second that changed his life and the harrowing two years that followed.

Daniel Venables was a West Coast premiership player in his 15th game. Six games later, the kid from Keilor suffered seven bleeds to the brain after a sickening 2019 collision, which ultimately ended his AFL career.
The 22-year-old, and his dad Peter, tell MICK McGUANE and GLENN McFARLANE how they want his story to inspire others and bring about change.

GLENN McFARLANE: Daniel, your life changed in a split second back in May 2019, which led to your premature retirement. How are you feeling about that now?

DANIEL VENABLES: My life did change in a split second. This retirement isn’t a shock to me. I’ve learnt to adapt with what has happened to me. I’m not emotional about it, this is life for me now.

MICK McGUANE: At one stage last year, you came down to your junior club Keilor for a training run and we all felt there was a chance for you to live your dream again. Did you think there was some hope of returning then?

DV: There were times when I just thought I would come good one day and be fine, but it hasn’t happened. A brain injury is not a broken leg or an ACL where, bang, you will be right after 12 months. I did all the training two pre-seasons in a row. The hardest thing is not knowing if tomorrow you might wake up and the symptoms are gone.

THE INCIDENT
MM: Dan, tell us what happened that night against Melbourne in Round 9, 2019. Can you remember anything about the incident?

DV: I had a seizure on the field. I don’t remember anything until the end of halftime when I kind of woke up. I bought a dog the day before and I couldn’t even remember that I had one. The boys came in and said to the doc ‘Ask him about his dog’. They asked me, and I said ‘I don’t know what you are talking about’. I remember some stuff after I woke up on the bench in the medical room. But I don’t remember what happened on the ground.

GM: What happened next?

DV: I went home. I had to go to the club the next morning and I was vomiting. I got driven there and we had to stop a few times on the way. We went straight to hospital for scans. The guy who reads the scans had been at the game and had seen it happen. He said: “I need you to stay around and do more scans because you have had some brain bleeds’. I had an MRI and a CT scan. I didn’t even know what a brain bleed meant back then.

HELPLESS
GM: Peter, how hard was it for you and your wife Joanne watching back in Melbourne?

PETER VENABLES: We were watching it on the couch with Daniel’s sister Ashlee and her boyfriend Josh. It didn’t take rocket science to realise Dan was in trouble and you were four thousands kilometres away. The most beautiful thing was (West Coast player services co-ordinator) ‘Serge’ (Ian) Miller rang us as they were coming off the ground. A bit later we spoke to Daniel. I don’t think he remembers it.

DV: I don’t remember that at all.

PV: It was after he had woken up. ‘Serge’ was magnificent. West Coast has been so good to Dan and to our family. The day he got drafted, and West Coast was called out, I thought you are kidding me, because we are such a close family. As a parent, it is the worst place for your kid to go (because it is so far away), but it is also the best place for them to be.

MM: How do you process being told your son has had seven brain bleeds?

PV: When he came good (that night), they said he was OK. But we spoke the next day and he was at the hospital. He told us he thought his brain was falling in. He felt it was exploding. He had had seven bleeds, so it was exploding. Everyone is still learning about head knocks. West Coast has been great, so has the club doctor. He cares. ‘Vozz’ (footy boss Craig Vozzo) cares. But this is so new that people just don’t know enough about it.

GM: Peter, was there a stage you just wanted Daniel to give up the fight and retire?

PV: If I was honest, and I haven’t said this to Dan before, from the day we saw those scans with seven brain bleeds, I didn’t want him going back. People call it concussion, it is not that. Dan is not naturally comfortable, nor am I, in saying he has got brain damage. You want to focus on the positives. But the reality is he has had seven brain bleeds; people die from one. I mean he could have died that night. If you asked me … we probably thought (he should retire) the night he got hit. But these guys are gladiators, you send them back on the field, that’s their job, But they are all just young kids like Dan. You just want to support your kids. Miracles sometimes happen. He nearly created one.

SYMPTOMS
MM: What were your major symptoms?

DV: Migraines, headaches, fatigue and pressure through my head.

MM: Was that caused by the bleeds or your brain enlarging?

DV: When your brain twists, it tears the nerves, which causes the bleed. Your brain is like a series of wires so when those wires get damaged, it turns into dead brain tissue. Those tissues don’t work any more and those areas of the brain are affected because the wires don’t run through it. It’s just like scars on your brain. The old way to treat it was to just take time. It took me some time to understand that there had to be another way.

GM: What impact did the medication have on you?

DV: I took them early in 2020 for six months. It took the edge off my migraines, but I had to keep upping my doses because I was getting used to them. I thought, F--- that! It gave me anxiety. It rocks you around. Then when you get off them, it rocks you for the next month even more. I wanted to go the natural route.

MM: Were there patterns to your symptoms?

DV: There were no patterns, man, You would get struck down whenever. I would sit in the shower with hot water running over my head. Sometimes I‘d just lay in bed under the covers in a dark room.

GM: Were there nights you didn’t sleep at all?

DV: I had migraines that would last four days in a row. Even now, I still have heaps of symptoms – head pain, jaw pain, eye pain, fatigue. I still barely sleep now.

HUB GOODBYES?
MM: You spent most of last year in Melbourne but reconnected with the Eagles up in the hub. Tell us about that?

DV: To be honest, Mick, I went up to the hub last year to say my goodbyes to the boys and finish up. I was filling water bottles, getting them ready for training and helping the property guy out. I was saying my thanks to the club. But just having a chat with the boys in the hub lit me up again. I thought ‘let’s just have a crack at it one more time’. I called ‘Vozz’ and said, ‘Can we have a meeting?’ Half an hour later, I said ‘Can we try an alternative approach.’ I got in touch with Paddy McCartin and Koby Stevens and they recommended Brett Jarosz (a sports and exercise/neuro rehabilitation chiropractor). He found specific parts of my brain that weren’t working, we made changes. He said instead of taking time to heal, let’s rehab the parts of the brain that aren’t working through specific exercise.

FERRARI IN THE GARAGE
GM: How did you retrain the affected parts of your brain?

DV: Brett found my eyes weren’t working properly and my brain stem wasn’t working properly. He looked at my vestibular system – my ears and balance. He had exercises to help build neuroplasticity. I’d have to go to the park near our house. You know those spinning machines. I would have to go on them and spin for about 30 minutes. I also had all these laser stuff apps on my iPad.

GM: How did that change things for you?

DV: I was doing rehab-type exercises. I found out my eyes weren’t working and that was causing headaches. I started training more. I gave Vozz another call and said if we want to do it, let’s go for it. We put up a mini pre-season in Melbourne. I knew if I could get past, I could go back (to Perth) again. I did that and West Coast re-signed me as a rookie. It felt like a possibility. I was training the house down.

PV: I think Vozz called you a Ferrari sitting in the garage.

DV: Yeah, from September last year through until May, I was just training and training.

REALISATION
MM: At what stage did it become clear you wouldn’t play again?

DV: Once it hit May. It had been two years and I wasn’t getting rid of my symptoms. We were meant to have the AFL panel (to decide if he was allowed to play on), that was the deadline we had with the club. That got cancelled. The club couldn’t put me into proper contact training until I got clearance. I just wanted an answer.

MM: If a plumber cuts his fingers off at work, they are looked after financially. From a footy perspective with concussion, has the AFL got the health and safety issue covered?

PV: That’s a conversation for another day, Mick. There may come a time when that needs to be discussed further. But we would much rather work with the AFL and be positive.

GM: Daniel, you are the first player forced into retirement by an AFL panel. Did you feel the AFL was just as worried about protecting themselves than protecting you?

DV: I’m not sure. They pulled the pin on me, so they could have easily said ‘it is up to you’, like everyone else.

MM: Who was on the panel?
DV: The AFL selected two neurologists, a neurosurgeon and a sports doctor who specialises in concussion. They were sent my medical history, my scans, everything from our doctors.

MM: What wording did the panel use to say you can’t play anymore?

DV: They told me it was a unanimous decision that I can’t play football or contact sport. From the first neurologist I saw when it happened, he told me I should never play football again. Every neurologist and neurosurgeon said the same thing. But they always said it is up to you. I was always going to keep trying. I needed them to say, yes you can play, or no, you can’t. That was a big step from the AFL, saying we are not going to let you play!

PV: What happened to Daniel was an accident. No one is angry about it. This is about putting protocols and procedures in place; it’s not about changing the game because the game is great. Accidents happen, but you can’t keep putting your head in the sand. If ever there was something the AFL should be standing up for, this is it. It is an opportunity for the AFL to show leadership and work with Dan and whoever else, to get positives out of this.

2018 FLAG
MM: One thing they can’t take away from you is that 2018 premiership medal. Tell us what the West Coast Eagles mean to you?

DV: I’m forever grateful. As Nissy (CEO Trevor Nisbett) said, ‘This is your second home’. If I didn’t have that flag, I just would have been a 21-game player with West Coast. Now, I’ve got (premiership) reunions to go to. I’m a part of club history.

GM: What is your favourite Grand Final memory?

DV: That whole year, even when things went wrong, we always knew we would end up winning. We just had this belief in the team. We felt we would get it going at the right time.

MM: Hey Dan, was it a free kick to Brayden Maynard in the dying moments?

DV: (laughs). No.

GM: How good was it to have the whole family there?

DV: We have got a great family photo in the rooms. Now I can sit back and get the premiership medal out, which is pretty cool.

GM: Peter, what are your recollections of that day?

PV: It was amazing to sit there and think there are 100,000 people here, and Daniel is down there. We just cried. It wasn’t about us … the kid just deserved it. The photo Daniel is referring to was special. We are a close family from Keilor/Taylors Lakes. To have that photo of him standing there with his medal, that meant so much to us. He is the youngest (of four children). He was so proud and so complete.

FUTURE
GM: Does your brain injury worry you going forward?

DV: It does mate, as I still have symptoms. But you can’t live life worrying.

MM: How much have you grown up through this?

DV: I feel you are only able to learn when you are in the trenches. I’ve matured so much as a person. I’ve had to learn things that you can only do when you are the one going through it.

MM: Do you have a different perspective on life now?

DV: I’ve worked out there is much more to life than footy. I wish I knew back then (when he was drafted pick 13 in 2016) what I know now. I would be a completely different player.

MM: What would you have done differently?

DV: I’d play footy like I played it when I was 14. I wouldn’t worry about the rest because you never know if your next game is your last.

GM: What’s the message you would like to leave us with?

DV: Every person has a story. It has never been poor me, or why me? I want to turn the negative into a positive. The sport I grew up playing as fun turned into my job. I got to the highest of highs, then in a split second, it ended. I didn’t just lose my sport; I lost my career and my job. I had physical and mental battles. I feel like my story can relate to anyone, whether they’re struggling at school, struggling at home, whether they’re broken their leg, or failed your exams. I would just say: ‘Don’t give up, keep fighting’.

MM: Will you stay in footy?

DV: I need to sort out getting healthy again. I’m not into coaching. I prefer sitting in the back of the car at Keilor (where McGuane coaches) with a megaphone, giving it to other teams.

MM: Come on down mate!
 

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Priddis Is Done

Norm Smith Medallist
May 28, 2017
5,759
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Terrifying and horrific.

It's unfortunate that one day the family and he will will have to lawyer up to extract more money out of the AFL. In his case, he deserves every cent.
 

Keys

Looking for a cloud to yell at
Oct 11, 2006
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  • Thread starter
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Update on where he’s at and it isn’t pretty





Been a fair bit of the criticism of the club on this board (much of it deserved) but one thing they have done really well is their treatment of Venables. Don’t think there is anything more they could have done



Which one of you is this
 

Astro7

Official Halftime Oranges Man
Aug 6, 2017
3,168
3,834
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Talking up around $10 mill. More details from Venners in this link. He certainly went through a lot more than he initially revealed in his first video interview. A pretty serious and unprecedented case.
 

FKASC

Under Notice
May 28, 2017
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man I can’t believe he can’t get his HR up above 90. That is insane
 

FKASC

Under Notice
May 28, 2017
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I like Venables' idea for all draftees to have their brain scanned, then once a year after that to identify and hopefully rectify any issues.

The Eagles should take the lead in this space and make it club policy now rather than waiting for the AFL to make it mandatory.
What’s the bet they claim it’s too expensive and blame covid cuts
 

06Premiers

Club Legend
Oct 11, 2006
2,959
5,085
Perth
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Listened to the pod yesterday. Absolutely shattering that his life has changed forever & even now still in pain.

Really puts everything into perspective - there's more to life than footy
 

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