AFL 2024: Magpies praised for ‘remarkable’ $1m act to aid medically retired Nathan Murphy

Collingwood is making a “remarkable financial gesture” to medically retired premiership defender Nathan Murphy.

The 24-year-old announced his permanent exit from football on Tuesday, having had the decision taken out of his hands by a panel of medical professionals.

Murphy suffered his 10th concussion in the early stages of the Magpies’ grand final triumph last September and hadn’t played since, managing just 57 games across seven years in the system.

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Herald Sun journalist Jon Ralph, who reported Collingwood’s quiet decision to extend Murphy’s contract by a year to the end of 2025, revealed the Pies made the decision to pay out the remainder of the backman’s deal while “aware” his career could imminently end.

“That retirement came with a remarkable financial gesture from the Pies, which I think will total a million dollars,” Ralph said on Fox Footy’s Midweek Tackle on Tuesday night.

“This year’s contract and next. So, as he pondered his retirement across the summer, they handed him another year on his contract.

“Most people would say ‘what were they thinking?’ They did it because they didn’t want him to feel forced into trying to play on to shore up his financial future.

“Basically, they didn’t want him to say ‘OK, I haven’t got enough money, if I play on, maybe I’ll be able to buy a house or a property or a business as well’. They did it aware that one concussion was likely to end his career.”

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Ralph shared his thoughts on the situation, reading between the lines.

“My take — they basically did it trying to nudge him into retirement by saying ‘take the money, even though we might have to pay it in our cap next year’,” he said.

“As it turns out, he was medically retired by the AFL on Saturday, which he had not been (previously). The AFL had ticked him off medically (last) December, so there was a significant risk to that all.

“He was still battling with migraines and anxiety.”

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Ralph said Collingwood’s generous stance was reflective of changing times at Olympic Park following contentious off-field instances in recent years.

“(Murphy) will be paid in full to that contract. But I just think under (chief executive) Craig Kelly and under (senior coach) Craig McRae and (president) Jeff Browne, this is a club that’s trying to look after its players in a way that it didn’t through the ‘Do Better’ (situation),” Ralph claimed.

“It didn’t (throughout) the salary dump. Players out there like Heritier Lumumba, Brodie Grundy, Adam Treloar.

“I think it’s a fantastic gesture by this club, and thankfully he’s been medically retired, so that will potentially be outside the salary cap if a ruling is made by the AFL.”

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Regarding a potentially imminent “ruling” on paying out medically retired players, Ralph cited a recently retired Swan’s situation.

“The precedent has been set by the Paddy McCartin ruling, and Sydney had to push really hard on this last year, of course,” he said.

“He had 2025 on his contract, they eventually got it past (AFL General Counsel) Stephen Meade. So, what the AFL will do now through Andrew Dillon is he’s promised a really prescriptive set of circumstances for the future.

“Do you have to have had multiple concussions? Do you have to have just retired through concussions or be medically retired? Is it a neck issue like Patrick Bines, the West Coast player?

“I think the AFL would say ‘if we don’t come up with some kind of policy here, and these contracts are not paid, well these players are just going to sue us, so we absolutely need to tick that off’.

“So, Nathan gets his payout, there certainly will be a career-ending payout through the AFLPA, and then there is also an insurance situation.”

The Demons are working through a similar situation with the AFL regarding Angus Brayshaw’s retirement in the pre-season.

Originally published as ‘Remarkable’: Magpies praised for generous $1m act to aid medically retired player