In the end, it was a mark that defined Jonathan Brown’s AFL career.
But the Brisbane Lions champion conceded his courageous, back-to-the-pack approach seen in his 2002 Mark of the Year effort also fast-tracked his retirement.
Brown, 32, on Monday drew the curtain on his stellar 15-season AFL career based on strong medical advice after suffering his third heavy head knock in 12 months.
Brown won three straight flags but Lions director and ex-coach Leigh Matthews touched on the inspirational 2002 mark against Hawthorn when summing up the full forward’s 256-game career.
“Toughness is keeping your eyes on the ball when you don’t know where the pressure is coming from and that’s where Brownie became legendary,” said Matthews who farewelled Brown with Lions coach Justin Leppitsch.
“Jonathan was a very talented player but I think that will be the legend that will be handed down the years – his ability to keep his eyes on the ball in any circumstance.”
The mind was still willing despite the sobering medical assessment after his latest head knock against Greater Western Sydney on June 14.
But the two-time All-Australian conceded he could no longer risk playing the game – not the way he wanted, anyway.
“I loved to play footy (that way). If it means I finish a year earlier than so be it,” said Brown, who conceded 2014 would have been his finale anyway.
“I was never blessed with great speed so I had to try and use my physical force and attack on the ball to get the best out of myself.
“The shame for me was the body was quite sound the last month. I felt I got a bit of the mojo back.
“The competitor inside was saying ‘you have some footy left in you’ but that (third) head knock was a wake-up call.”
Brown admitted the 17th-placed Lions’ current plight also made it hard to leave.
But he made up his mind by halftime of Saturday’s 83-point mauling by Fremantle.
“I said to (wife) Kylie ‘I can’t leave the boys like this’,” Brown said.
“It’s been a hard pill to swallow, even though deep down inside I knew that was the right answer.”
Brown followed in the footsteps of his father Brian – a former Fitzroy player – when he burst onto the AFL scene in 2000.
Back, hip and facial injuries hampered the forward as the club went into a post-2004 grand final freefall, last making the top eight in 2009.
But Brown still enjoyed building AFL’s profile in a rugby league heartland, joking that when he first arrived everyone thought the Brisbane Lions were a soccer club.
Leppitsch admitted a “huge hole” had been left at the club by Brown barely 12 months after fellow legend Simon Black’s retirement.
“A lot of players have to step up, fill the void and continue their legacy,” he said.
Brown will be farewelled at halftime of Saturday night’s Gabba clash with North Melbourne.