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McGuire and Folau: Sins and punishment

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Roar Pro
6th May, 2019
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On Saturday afternoon, after getting home from lunch with the wife, I turned on my PC to check and reply to comments regarding my latest Israel Folau article.

The TV was tuned into the Melbourne versus Hawthorn game. I wouldn’t have really noticed until my wife blurted out something unexpected. “Is that idiot still on TV?” she said.

Admittedly, my wife doesn’t know very much about AFL, if at all. But she easily recognised the voice of one Eddie McGuire.

Her comment was particularly apposite given that the highest-profile rugby player in Australia may have his contract terminated for going against Rugby Australia’s values. Yet, here is a very high-profile individual within the AFL who has similarly displayed behaviours contrary to the AFL’s values still front and centre.

Comparing Israel Folau and McGuire wasn’t even in my stratosphere of consideration. But there I was endorsing the termination of a player’s contract, suddenly pondering my wife’s question. Two different codes, but is Rugby Australia dissimilar to the AFL in its values? I would argue no.

So, I think it would be interesting to just put it out there to the aficionados of AFL the following question; why has Eddie McGuire not, at least, lost his AFL media roles?

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Before anyone gets their knickers in a knot; I am not looking to try and create an issue where there is not, or to divert attention. Though, it is nice to be writing a piece where Folau is not totally the central theme.

The AFL, as an organisation, are so endorsing of values regarding the contribution of the Indigenous community, female participation, disability inclusion and advocating for cultural diversity. Just look at their website.

When it comes to McGuire however, and learning more regarding his more notorious controversies. I started to wonder further, regarding the question above. I have some very uninformed theories but would love to hear the opinions from you AFL devotees.

Before you post your comments regarding the above question, here, in no particular order but categorised by who he primarily offended, are McGuire’s offences that go against AFL values.

1. The gay community
When: 2010.

What occurred: Courtesy of ABC journo Andrew McGarry.

“Molloy referred to the costumes being worn, saying: “They don’t leave anything in the locker room these blokes do they?”.

McGuire then chimed in. “They don’t leave anything in the closet either do they?” he said.”

Later in the same wrap of events, McGuire described one costume as “a bit of a Brokeback”, referring to Brokeback Mountain, a movie about gay cowboys.

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Apology: From my research, still forthcoming.

My takeaway: Grow up, Eddie.

2. People of colour
When: 2013.

What occurred: Courtesy as above.

McGuire caused a furore on his radio show. His co-host Luke Darcy mentioned a giant gorilla hand on the Eureka Skydeck in Melbourne, promoting the musical King Kong.

“Get Adam Goodes down for it, d’you reckon?” McGuire said. Darcy tried to downplay the remark, but McGuire continued, saying: “You can see them doing that can’t you? Goodsey.”

“You know with the ape thing, the whole thing, I’m just saying pumping him up and mucking around, all that sort of stuff.”

Adam Goodes

Former Swans player Adam Goodes bore the brunt of a McGuire gaffe in 2013. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

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Apology: Yes, but he did say “people don’t resign for a slip of the tongue,” and later went on to claim in a GQ magazine interview, “I was on heavy-duty painkillers, antibiotics and steroids.”

My takeaway: Make sure you ask your GP if any medication they prescribe has a side-effect that makes you say racist things.

3. All women except his wife
When: 2006.

What occurred: Courtesy of Adrian Ballantyne, News Corp Australia Network.

When McGuire was running the Nine Network in 2006, he became embroiled in an embarrassing public relations controversy surrounding then Today Show co-host Jessica Rowe.

It came about when Mark Llewellyn, Nine’s then news chief, recounted a conversation he said occurred during a meeting himself and Jeffrey Browne, executive director at Nine, and McGuire.

The affidavit stated: “Mr McGuire said: ‘What are we going to do about Jessica? When should we bone her? I reckon it should be next week.'”

Mr Llewellyn states he replied: “Are you sure you want to get rid of her?”

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A year later Rowe, who was on maternity leave at the time, was gone and McGuire left his post not long after to return to Melbourne.

Apology: No, blame Sydney instead. In aforementioned GQ piece, McGuire says, “It [boned] was a word that was bandied about – but it was a Sydney term and it was one that Mark Llewellyn, and others, used quite regularly. I use the term ‘burn’.”

My takeaway: I blame Brisbane for my use of boganisms, Adelaide when I use everyday terms, Perth when I get stuck finding the correct word and Canberra when I lie.

Nathan Buckley Eddie McGuire AFL

McGuire (right). (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

4. Muslims unless you’re friends with McGuire
When: 2015.

What occurred: McGuire was reported as saying in AFL’s AGM in 2015 referring to Victorian Sports Minister at the time, John Eren, as a “soccer-loving Turkish-born Mussie.”

Apology: No, again. One of the statements he later made, “This is how people in the real-world talk to each other with affection”.

My takeaway: Let’s hope he doesn’t have any friends that are African-American rappers.

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5. Multicultural Australia
When: 2011.

What occurred: McGuire responded to Kevin Sheedy’s threats on Radio that he will poach Collingwood players before the 2012 season. “I’ve just a put a team together of your 17-year-olds who’ll be sick of living up in the land of the falafel in western Sydney playing in front of a 12,000-seat stadium that’s still not put up.”

Apology: Yes but no, as he later said, “To be perfectly honest, this is just another politically correct beat-up”.

My takeaway: Wasn’t that bad, on the spectrum of McGuire offences.

6. Female victims of violence
When: 2016.

What occurred: Please key into your search engine “Eddie McGuire drown Caroline Wilson” and you will find plenty. To get the full impact of what was said though, you would need to listen to the Triple M Podcast.

Unfortunately, I could not locate it. But what was most apparent, as I have heard it previously, was a lot of malevolence in the tone of the so-called banter. Worse still is that, although McGuire was the chief instigator, a whole panel of blokes bar one voiced approval for McGuire’s pile on of Wilson.

The pile-on included some disturbing acts of violence including drowning.

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Apology: Not at first. Initially, he doubled down pleading the joke defence. However, seven days later – and after much pressure – he made an unreserved apology.

My takeaway: The seven days speaks volumes.

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7. People with a disability
When: 2019.

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What occurred: First Swans game of the season at the SCG. Number one ticket holder Cynthia Banham, a double amputee who lost both legs in a plane crash, tossed the coin.

McGuire witnessed the coin toss and said, “we should introduce a $5000 fine to anybody who’s tossing the coin and can’t do it properly”.

Then continued, “Every week, we have someone dropping it on their foot,” he said. “Come on, toss it up properly, for goodness sake. Practice in the week, you know you’re going to do it. It can’t be that hard can it, guys?”

Apology: At halftime, he made an unreserved apology but included in the statement, “It had nothing to do with Cynthia Banham, who was the coin tosser tonight at the SCG and has a disability.”

My takeaway: The Usain Bolt of apologies. Not much over an hour after said comments, McGuire apologised. But if the comments had nothing to do with Cynthia Banham, then why was he making them?

I call bull. Seems McGuire may have the condition known as unablus takus fullus responsibillus.