The top 5 AFL figures that hated the media before working in it

SEN - Fri, 12th Jul 2019 - 0 Comments

The relationship between the AFL media and AFL players has been topical this year and it’s more common to see players hitting back at the media.

Prominent examples were an online stoush between Richmond’s Jack Riewoldt and Channel 7 reporter Tom Browne, Luke Hodge hitting out at criticism from Damian Barrett and Todd Goldstein referring to media as a “necessary evil”.

Sometimes, as Tony Jones explains on this week's edition of The Sounding Board, many or a lot of these athletes that call out the media end up relying on it to make a living.

Tony's not prepared to give his top 5, but I am, because it's what I do.

My top 5 AFL figures that hated the media but ended up working in it:

5. Mark 'Bomber' Thompson

Most great coaches will go into bat and stick up for their players when they are criticised but Bomber took it to a new level when he was asked about his star recruit Brad Ottens when he crossed from Richmond to Geelong.

When he was grilled in a media conference, Thompson said: "For some silly reason, you people want to assassinate him. All of you, all of you people, leave him alone."

Thompson also took exception with the media's handling and treatment of Essendon where he was an assistant coach during the supplements saga.

When he finished coaching, Bomber regularly appeared on Fox Footy’s AFL 360 and did special comments for 3AW among other things.

4. Cameron Mooney

When doing my research for this topic, every single person I asked mentioned Mooney.

During his playing days he was said to have had utter contempt for the media which is strange because you couldn’t meet a nicer guy.

Now has a successful TV career on Fox Footy.

3. Chris Judd

During his playing days Judd self admittedly harboured a negative attitude towards the media.

“I did really go out of my way to avoid consuming any media,” he wrote in an article for the AFLPA.

“I remember when I was 18, I had an article written about me that was really complementary and (left me feeling) really good. (I remember) thinking ‘if a positive article can make me feel good than the inverse of that is a negative one can make me feel bad’.

“I guess I wasn’t comfortable handing over control of my emotions to journalists I didn’t know, who largely didn’t know me.

“So I made an effort to avoid all media. If a story came on about West Coast or, later on Carlton, I’d just change the channels for a few minutes, wouldn’t read the papers other than the Financial Review where footy wasn’t overly prevalent, but I changed that in the last couple of years of my career and was more comfortable."

Juddy went out of his way to void the media but is now a staple of Triple M's commentary and a panellist of Channel 9's Footy Classified on Monday nights.

2. Mick Malthouse

Had countless run-ins with the media in his coaching career and his post-match press conferences became compulsory viewing by the end.

Once took exception to a journalist wrustling a pastry wrapper too loudly.

In the 90’s during his time as coach of the Eagles, e asked veteran Herald Sun journalist Darryl Tims if he was deaf as well as stupid. Channel 7's Mark Stevens also made a name for himself for his frosty exchanges with Mick.

But this response to a question from Jay Clark asking "if the team had come to play" is my favourite.

“I reckon they probably come here thinking we’d have a real bad one today in the first quarter," said Malthouse in response.

“What do you honestly think? That term ‘come to play’, where does it originate from? Do they reckon they’ve come to play marbles or do you think they didn’t come to play? Do you think they sat in their cars waiting for the game to start and then go out there?”

Malthouse now sits in the commentary box for the ABC and also writes a weekly column for the Herald Sun.

1. Jack Riewoldt

In 2014, Riewoldt banned himself from making any media comment after the media put attention on his omission from Richmond's leadership group.

"This is off my own bat," he said. "If I can't be portrayed the way I want to be portrayed, then I will give it a bit of a miss."

What followed were the comical scenes where Riewoldt tried to hide from the media behind a parked car before scurrying to catch a train all with the goal to escape a few photographers and microphones.

I do find it ironic that Riewoldt is basically the face of Fox Footy’s AFL coverage and he seems to jump behind a camera or a microphone at every opportunity. He appears in promo after promo and is in front of the camera more than any current player in the game.

How ironic.

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