‘He died in front of my eyes’: Footy star's shock message
Adelaide captain Chelsea Randall says she's "devastated" to be missing Saturday's AFLW grand final but knows she has a responsibility to send an "important message" to grassroots football about concussion.
Randall won't have the opportunity to lead the Crows to a third AFLW premiership after she suffered a concussion during her side's 19-point preliminary final victory over Melbourne.
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The dual premiership co-captain and triple All-Australian was involved in a nasty head clash with Demon Eliza McNamara during the first quarter of the match, with a full medical assessment on Monday confirming Randall had suffered a concussion.
Under the AFL's new protocols, any player that is concussed is deemed unavailable for selection and unable to play for a 12-day period. Therefore Randall was ruled out of Saturday's grand final against the Brisbane Lions.
Randall's shattering setback has sparked debate among the footy community around whether there should be a week's break between both the AFL and AFLW grand final.
But Randall on Tuesday night gave the AFL world a big dose of perspective, bravely recounting the day she saw a player die in front of her eyes on the field just a week after suffering a concussion.
Speaking in a video interview on the Crows' website, Randall said concussion was a "serious topic", adding it was crucial for her to sit on the sidelines this weekend.
"I decided not to take any further action because what kind of message would that be sending to our grassroots football?" Randall told the club's media team. "Because concussion is serious, it is scary.
"For me personally, it's not to scare anyone but rather educate people. When I was 20, I was watching an E-Division grand final and a young man died in front of my eyes. The week prior he'd been concussed, he went to seven different doctors, he got an approval to play, he was the captain of his team. He received a normal bump at a centre bounce and he never got back up - so it is quite a scary thing.
"I decided to not take further action because, one, that story but it's an important message that we send at grassroots footy as well."
“What kind of message would that be sending to our grassroots football?”— Adelaide Crows AFLW (@CrowsAFLW) April 13, 2021
Despite a devastating Grand Final blow, our skipper has revealed the powerful reason she’s backing the concussion rule.
Watch the full interview: https://t.co/WXf1963BAA#crowsaflw#weflyasonepic.twitter.com/hqaGXFGYRm
The Crows posted Randall's anecdote to their social media feeds, with the skipper's story drawing wide praise from players, pundits, commentators and fans.
"She would do anything at anytime for any member of our @CrowsAFLW family if needed. Courageous. Selfless. Inspirational. A TRUE Champion," Adelaide teammate Marijana Rajcic wrote in Twitter.
Crows men's leadership group member Tom Doedee wrote on Twitter: "Not sure anyone would've handled this better than @randall_chelsea has. An absolute credit to her character + leadership."
Eagles superstar Nic Naitanui added: "My fave, well done chelse."
Carlton AFLW coach Daniel Harford said: "What a champ. Nothing but love randall_chelsea."
Bulldogs chief executive Ameet Bains wrote: "Strong and selfless leadership."
Radio host and former Crow Ryan Fitzgerald added: "Our skipper and inspiration. You are a superstar Chelsea Randall, you'll be back bigger and better."
Channel 7 broadcaster Sam Lane wrote: "Adelaide Crows captain cruelly sidelined from Grand Final and this is how she takes it. This is perspective. This is leadership. This is important."
While a dazed McNamara was helped off Adelaide Oval on Saturday by two Demons trainers, three Crows staffers attended to Randall, who took more time to get to her feet but ended up running off the ground unassisted.
Randall said the incident with McNamara was a "pretty heavy collision".
"I guess it's renowned for the way I play my football," she said.
"I saw the footy and knew I could get there before her. I remember taking the footy and was hoping to just receive the contact and be able to keep moving through the footy. But unfortunately we both collided in a nasty way.
"I just remember being on the floor, my mouth was pretty bloody because I'd hit my jaw. I remember the trainers being around me and I jogged off - and I guess the rest is history from that point."
Randall said she was confident her team would be able to defeat Brisbane and capture its third AFLW flag in five seasons.
"As much as I am gutted, devastated, sad that I won't be taking the field with my teammates in the grand final this weekend, the last six months, the last 10 games it hasn't been about me, it hasn't been about one sole individual," Randall said.
"It's been about this group and how special they are and the journey we've all been on together. I feel incredibly proud with how far this group has gone.
"They don't need me, they have proven that to themselves that they can get the job done without me."
Randall said she'd be standing "immensely proud" on the sidelines alongside Adelaide, adding she'd requested a role on the bench so she can be an "energetic bunny" among her teammates.
"I feel like a proud parent," she said.
"Not that I have kids, but I can imagine what it would be like watching a young son or daughter drive away as they're an 18-year-old, going off into the world and you've done everything you possibly can to help them and support them.
"One thing I'm super proud of about this group is that when an opportunity arises, they embrace it and don't take it for granted. They've done that and they've shown it all season. I have no doubt they'll do just that. They play footy for one another."
Originally published as 'He died in front of my eyes': Star floors footy