‘Complete Fiction’: James Graham fires back at Peter FitzSimons



St George Illawarra Dragons firebrand James Graham has savaged Sydney Morning Herald journalist Peter FitzSimons in a statement released by the St George Illawarra Dragons.

Graham was responding to an article written by FitzSimons – calling Graham out for his views on concussion and his personal stance.

“You’ve got to go and play Oztag if you don’t fancy playing league anymore,” the big Englishman said last week.

“But I wouldn’t get paid and I probably wouldn’t have as much fun.

“It’s my life – I have children, I know the importance of them having a father but I’m protecting myself as best as I can and doing all the research myself.

“I’ve done my research, I’ve had my tests done, I know what’s going on in my head and in my body. I’m seeing the appropriate people if there’s something to do about that but I’ll get on with it myself and stick to the laws of the game.”

But FitzSimons hit back calling Graham’s comments “outrageous”.

“Yes, it is your life. But again, it is not about you. It’s about the hundreds of thousands in this country who play contact sport and the need for all of them to realise that while no one wants to shut down football, there are protocols that need to be observed to make it safer for everyone,” FitzSimons wrote.

“Comments like yours — basically, getting smashed in the head and getting on with it anyway is what goes with football — are outrageous. Serious people are trying to make the game safer, and it needs leaders like you to support that process and not be seen to downplay it.”

In a somewhat unusual step, Graham released a statement via the Dragons website following FitzSimons’ article.

“I have in fact seen a variety of doctors and completed multiple tests just for my own peace of mind and have took it upon myself to go beyond what the NRL have provided me,” Graham fired.

“I think this fact debunks your strong opinion that I ‘downgrade the importance of the concussion issue’.

“For the record, I take neurodegeneration and long term brain diseases incredibly seriously, and in all of the interviews last week in no way did I discount the seriousness of the matter.”

Graham then took aim at FitzSimons.

“The journalist who asked the question I’m sure was looking for some personal insight. Maybe you would have preferred the usual script given when being asked questions of this nature?

“I’m actually appalled by you paraphrasing my words ‘basically, getting smashed in the head and getting on with it anyway is what goes with football’. Sorry NO! I didn’t say that, mate. Complete fiction. If you think I said that maybe you are the one that needs assessing.”

Graham would go on in the statement and even include an idea to stem the very serious issue of heavy contact from kick restarts.

“One suggestion of mine is the restarts. Greater distance between players tends to mean a greater force in the collisions. If this is proven, what does the game look like moving forward?”

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