Jordan Lewis can understand why Dale Thomas felt the negative way he did about football during his career.
The former Collingwood and Carlton star revealed on reality TV that he at times hated the game he had previously loved so much, such were the pressures of life as a professional footballer.
“You get paid really well and it’s a good job but there’s so much pressure and expectation that comes with it,” Thomas said on Channel 10’s I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!
“After 14 years, I had times where I was like, 'this is all I ever wanted to do and I genuinely hate this'. You're like 'what is wrong with me for feeling like that?'
“(But) the last couple of years I got to fall back in love with football and leave on a note where I felt like I had given everything of myself, not have any regrets as to how my career panned out.”
Responding to those comments, four-time Hawthorn premiership player and recently-retired Melbourne veteran Lewis called on his own experiences of dealing with pressure to side with Thomas.
“When I got drafted there was no social media so the avenues people had to actually give you feedback weren’t there,” Lewis said on SEN Drive.
“What you get as a player now, you get feedback from people you don’t know, you get judged on games more so than kicks and marks.
“You are in an environment where it’s high pressure, you are getting watched every move you do. For me there was no escape.
“I was a subscriber to the Herald Sun, The Age, all those newspapers, but I unsubscribed from those within the footy season because it just became too much football. Harsh comments, no matter how resilient you are, they do affect you in some way.
“I know multiple players who have got off social media or don’t read papers during the season. They’ve become better players and they’ve become happier.
“Very rarely you get someone on social media who goes, ‘Hey Jordan, great game today, I can’t believe how well you are playing’, all this really rosy sort of stuff. You don’t get that, it’s more the negative stuff.
“Daisy was a higher profile player than I was so he may have dealt with it differently.
“I totally removed myself from any feedback during the season.”
Lewis, who played 319 AFL games, also referenced his time spent in the VFL late in 2019 that allowed him to really see a brighter side of the game he loved since he was a kid.
“I played some VFL this year and so did Roughy (Jarryd Roughead). We’ve both spoken about this,” he added.
“What it gave us, which might sound funny, it gave us the love for football back. It was at suburban grounds, it wasn’t highly critical.
“It felt like football when we were growing up as kids. We really enjoyed that.”