Fyfe out of Brownlow contention, but should he be?


Fyfe out of Brownlow contention, but should he be?

There seems to be one almost every year. A Brownlow favourite rubbed out for a week or two suspended prior to seasons end making him ineligible to win the AFL’s most coveted award. In some cases, the footballer disqualified goes on to win it aka Chris Grant in 1997 who relinquished his winning total to the second best on the night being Robert Harvey. He was found guilty of striking Hawthorn’s Nick Holland earlier in the season, receiving a one-match ban.

Right off the bat, I think it is a horrible look. To have a player who has collected the most votes and is therefore the BEST player in the league for that year, being subdued to congratulating the second best due to their previous indiscretions, detracts from the night overall and stains the legitimacy of the award. The story turns towards the non-winner rather than celebrating the great seasons of our competitors.

I have no doubt the conversation will reel its ugly head come that Monday night prior to the Grand Final, when the Charlie votes are announced. The cameras will be on Fyfe, as he maintains contact or (heaven forbid) is leading the pack come the halfway mark of the season. The big red mark next to his name and the hushed whispers of those sympathising with the man who flew an elbow clumsily at Levi Greenwood. It’s a horrible look that spectators greedily lap up and I personally think it looks crap.

The Brownlow is awarded to the best and fairest player. Was Fyfe playing unfairly? He made a judgement to jump up and contest a ball while Greenwood decided to remain on his feet and knock the ball forward with his fist. Fyfe was unable to change direction mid-flight and clumsily raised his elbow, collecting the Collingwood player in the face. The contention here was whether the act was deemed careless or intentional. Careless means no weeks and a possible Brownlow, intentional demotes him to a spectator on the night. On that decision alone it all rides. The act is found to be intentional, after all a raised elbow is probably going to collect some part of Greenwood’s head, therefore its intentional. I can live with that. The one-week suspension, I can live with that too. Deter players from raising an elbow.

Was the act unfair though? Should he be ineligible?

For me it doesn’t add up. The punishment doesn’t fit the crime.

I’m not saying that Brownlow medal favourites should receive special treatment… Perhaps there needs to be reform though so certain acts punishable at the tribunal don’t have any further repercussions past the suspension. I’d love to see a process at the tribunal where the player can apply for some sort of exemption from Brownlow ineligibility some sort of ‘spent conviction’ for the footy world. Let the tribunal rule upon the action and then the opposing club argue its’ case that the player should be able to contest the award. Maybe incidents that are ‘in play’, where the margin for error is so small and players reaction times are within microseconds, don’t affect the Brownlow standings.

It’s just a thought, we seem to be able to change every other rule of the game right now, why not something that doesn’t detract from the on field spectacle, something that is fairly simple to change.

Eagles fans, you might be throwing your head and laughing heartily at Fyfe’s expense, but what if it was Nic Naitanui who was nearing on the Brownlow medal and he was banned from winning because of that hard tackle against Port Adelaide. Imagine the uproar then!

Sean spoke about this issue on his Breakfast program Sean for Breakfast, for the full interview and more go to the Catch Up link below!