Sam Fisher’s former coach Ross Lyon said he was not aware of any of the player’s drug problems while at St Kilda, calling the troubled former St “a handsome man”.
Fisher, who played 228 games before retiring in 2016, played his best football under Lyon between 2007 and 2011 and was named to the 2008 All-Australian squad.
After the 39-year-old was arrested and charged with large-scale illicit drug trafficking, Leon touched on Fisher’s coaching experience, saying he hoped the former St. would become a warning story for current AFL players.
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“It’s very difficult. He was a very special player to me,” he told Nine’s Footy is categorized.
“He’s always coached and he’s always played and he’s not a headache for me. Below the surface, there was obviously something going on, but as a coach you get nothing of it, it’s just the club doctor. I’ve never been. Aware.
“To me, what did I see? An incredible athlete, a beautiful person, kind nature who trained and played and was a star of the club. I never saw the person in trouble. Did I know he had a hard party sometimes? Yes.
“Let’s hope the 600 players in the system sit down tonight and go, ‘What am I doing with my life?’
“Wake up. Money is not enough. Statistically, 90 percent are married and have children. You have to work for the next 30 years of your life. Let’s go.”
Leon said he was “concerned about (Fisher’s) lifestyle and how he has been living most recently,” despite not having been in contact with his former player for at least six years.
The 55-year-old said the AFL needed a “lever” to make sure players retired with jobs or completed some third education.
“In my own experience, when you get to the end of your career, if you don’t work, you start to get stressed,” he said.
“I had an experience in Fremantle. A young player – who is still in the system – comes from a strong family, his father was the principal of a school and he did not struggle. I said, ‘Friend, I’m calling your parents and if you don’t get admitted by the end of the week, I’ll drop you out of the senior team.’
“There’s no lever in the AFL to force them to study or work. In the college system, which we always compare ourselves to, there are scholarships and if they don’t study they won’t play. That’s the lever. They’re pulling. We don’t have a lever.”
Leon’s comments came after Fisher’s former teammate, St. Killer icon Nick Reeldt admitted that the defender’s close friends were aware of his off-field fight.
Former Collingwood president Eddie McGuire suggested that the AFL tighten its illicit drug policy, given the many loopholes in the current three-strike policy.
“There’s a way to get rid of the drug problem: don’t do drugs,” he said Footy is categorized.
Former AFL star Sam Fisher has been charged with drug trafficking across Australia.
“As the president of a football club, I will never be told what happened, but if it goes out, the club will police it.
“I think what we need to do is become a little more adult in this regard. I think it’s time for us to say, ‘OK, there’s a drug problem in society, we have to stop feeding our kids.’
“All that has happened is that the AFL drug code, as the saying goes, is actually a passport for players to take drugs.
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“We have to get to the point where our players have to stop taking drugs. At the moment, it’s still about helping people (without any positive testing). I like the health part of it, but I think we have to go a little harder.”
“Players have to sit down and decide what the path is. Do they want to stop there to help them in this situation or do they want to have a life that goes on?”
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