Drug-troubled Cousins quits footy at the right time
The chapter has ended. The super-cut frame of Richmond star Ben Cousins won’t grace the AFL’s gladiatorial arena ever again.
The recovering drug addict will announce his retirement at 10.15am today. It’s a wise move, as Cousins has fought his demons for two years since returning to the AFL as a Tiger.
As an Eagle, Cousins was invincible. A Brownlow medallist. A West Coast premiership captain. He had looks and a body to die for. Confidence – even a smug arrogance. But as a confessed sufferer of an “addictive personality”, Cousins would always battle long-term after his comeback.
You cannot change your personality overnight, only adopt a regimented lifestyle and routine that keeps your wayward behaviours in check.
Having a healthy band of supporters around Cousins helped to keep those bad behaviours under control.
It seemed Cousins’s family, the Tigers and close friends were always there for him in those trying times – out of the public eye.
Cousins has done everything in his power to pave a successful return to football, after the Eagles and the AFL sacked him in 2007. As an out-of-control addict, Cousins disgraced himself – but the sad fact is that he couldn’t help himself.
Cousins’s return to football has been rocky at times. The questionable sleeping tablet saga, which triggered mass coverage of the caffeine-sleeping pill cycle, cost him a week on the field after being rushed to intensive care.
Cousins’s form since the “sleeping pill” drama has been nothing short of sensational.
It’s now the perfect time for Cousins to leave the game. He’s 32 years old, super-fit and playing like a house on fire.
But the pain of drug addiction and the pain of intense publicity have taken its toll on the champion player. An addictive personality has the characteristics which bring success, as Cousins showed in the peak of his stellar career.
But there is a dark side to someone who struggles to fight those demons. They are the forces that drive a person to success on the sunny side and self-destruct on the dark side.
Cousins has admitted his struggles. He will always be fighting his addictive tendencies. He is an adrenaline junkie.
He has bravely confronted his personal problems and managed to perform highly – almost beyond expectation.
It’s Cousins’s satisfaction for his recent form that allows him to walk away from the game at peace with himself. No matter what, Cousins will need a life of purpose, mostly with busy days, to help him control his demons.
I hope Cousins has support in the rugged business of retirement. Going from the pace of an adrenaline junkie to a relatively passive lifestyle will require huge adjustment. Let’s hope Cousins finds fulfilment in the aftermath of a brilliant, yet chequered, career.
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