Former AFL high-flyer Shaun Smith has reiterated the seriousness of concussion in football following a groundbreaking $1.4 million payout he received this week.
Smith, who sustained arguably his worst head knock while playing for Newlyn in the Central Highlands Football League during 2011, was awarded damages by insurance company MLC, which agreed he had suffered total and permanent disablement (TPD) due to hits sustained throughout his career.
TPD insurance cover pays a lump sum if you become totally and permanently disabled and you're unable to ever work again due to illness or injury.
The 51-year-old played 109 AFL games during stints with North Melbourne and Melbourne and was with Newlyn for three seasons, including two as coach.
Smith said he received some good advice 25 years ago to get total and permanent disablement insurance and was thankful he listened.
He said the money allowed him to set up the next chapter of his life and believes allowing people to return to the field so quickly after sustaining concussion needs to be addressed.
"I look at players now and they're getting knocked out and playing the next week. That's just ludicrous," Smith told The Courier.
"This is why we are doing what we are doing, to make people realise that if you want to do that then that's up to you, but this is the ramifications from it.
"And if you're not protected I suppose you've got nothing.
"And (for) the AFL to realise that we shouldn't let players come back after getting knocked out the next week. We should be putting them out for a month for their health. Whether the AFL does that, I'm not sure."
Concussion campaigner Peter Jess has helped Smith through his insurance claim and was critical of the AFL's stance on concussion and brain issues in the elite game.
"This organisation has lost its moral compass. There's absolutely no leadership on this issue, the (AFL Commission) chairman Richard Goyder, his position is untenable and he must resign," Jess said.
"He's shown a complete lack of understanding of the depth and financial despair that is created by these neurological impairments."
The AFL provided a statement after Smith's payout was made public.
"The health and safety of all players is paramount and in recent years we have strengthened match day protocols, changed the Laws of the Game to further discourage high contact, improved the identification of potential concussive incidents through industry leading video technology, and we continue to invest in research to better understand concussion at all levels of the game," a spokesperson said.
"Earlier this year the AFL made changes to the concussion guidelines for the 2020 AFL and AFLW seasons to reflect our ongoing conservative approach in managing concussions at the elite level. These guidelines will continue to be reviewed based on expert medical advice and research."
Listen to the Off The Record podcast titled Concussion: Football's Black Hole where Smith speaks about his issues.