James Graham wrote a letter to his kids 'to explain who I was' in case he suffers brain damage from footy
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NRL legend James Graham has revealed that he penned a letter to his kids ‘to explain who I was’ in case he suffered any serious brain damage as a result of his footy clashes.
A notoriously hard-hitting prop the former England international faced his fair share of tackles across his combined 423 games in the Super League and NRL.
While he forged a reputation as a footy hard man, the nature of his play style meant that he was often succumbing to numerous head knocks.
And as such he became worried his young children would grow up unable to communicate with their father.
He told The Australian: “In the autumn of 2015, I wrote a letter to my children, to explain who I was in case I ever had a cognitive decline or succumbed to dementia.
“I was concerned about who I may become.”
He later discussed how toward the backend of his career he was actively trying to adjust the way he plays.
He added: “In the final couple of seasons of my career, I was really concerned about my brain.
“You see I was suffering slight headaches. I was now quite concerned about the repetitive collisions – and I was consumed with thoughts about protecting my head.
“I was actively avoiding situations I once loved on the field. Those big collision moments I was, at times, trying to avoid.
“Even off the field, I was starting to protect my head. So much so I was really careful about opening, say, a kitchen cupboard and not getting my head in the way.
“On the field, I was thinking about the position I was putting myself in a lot. I wasn’t participating in training as much as what I probably would have liked. I was avoiding situations.”
Graham later discussed how upon finishing his footy career, he realised that NRL had become some form of medication for his deeper mental health issues.
He revealed that the lockdown of 2021, which coincided with his first year out of rugby league, was a tough time period.
Suffering from anxiety and depression, Graham looked to alcohol to numb the pain.
However, he reached out to Dr Steffan Erisson at the St George Dragons who helped him with his battle, prescribing him antidepressants and putting him onto a therapist.
Despite getting the help he needed, Graham still poised the question of whether his NRL career contributed to surrounding his mental health struggles.
Graham said: “All these symptoms; insomnia, mood swings, irritation, alcohol abuse … and my concerns around short-term memory loss.
“Is concussion to blame? Or was I just susceptible anyway?”