ROSS Lyon has launched an impassioned plea for Stephen Milne to be viewed at least equal to Eddie Betts when the AFL's best small forwards are debated.
Milne's career as a St Kilda player was saved by Lyon when he was appointed coach at the end of 2006.
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The faith was repaid – Milne finished his career with a stunning 574 goals from 275 games, at an average of 2.09.
Betts has kicked 600 goals from 316 matches (average 1.9).
"I would think (it would), indisputably," Lyon said when asked if Milne's career had him at least on par with Betts on the latest episode of The Coach with Damian Barrett.
"Played a lot of finals, stood up in finals, gave us the opportunity to win finals.
"Eddie Betts is a very good player, very hard to play, as the small forward. He was a strong man, Stephen.
"… in American sports they go straight to the numbers, don't they, and on that, he performed, in 250 games.
"Go the numbers and you don't need anyone else to validate you. It'd be nice for him to have a premiership, but that's not really his problem."
In the fifth episode of The Coach, Lyon also gave compelling insight into the problem of footballers exiting the game without proper life skills.
Premiership coaches Alastair Clarkson and Damien Hardwick have strongly advocated the raising of the age of players entering the national draft, and Lyon believes their arguments are based as much on players leaving the game as it on them entering it.
"They are no mugs (Clarkson and Hardwick), they are seeing young people who have dedicated themselves to footy, don’t make it, but come out of the system without appropriate skill sets to go on with their lives," Lyon said.
"We're probably seeing some disintegrated or dysfunctional people back into the community, with regard to work.
"If we could establish something where they can get some life skills, an apprenticeship, university degree, then hit the AFL at 21, well, then you could give them more time, because they would have something to fall back on.
"There are more mental health challenges for players in retirement. Anecdotally, there are few more out there than we are comfortable with.
"To me, it is as much about personal care as it is they are not ready to come into the system."