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Opinion

The mysterious case of Latrell Mitchell's Mercedes

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4 days ago
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Latrell? Bit a flap about old Latrell isn’t there, since Jimmy Hooper’s yarn about him turning up to Roosters training in a quarter-mill Mercedes?

Critique from the Twittersphere and beyond has, not atypically, run the full gamut: race, age, greed, loyalty.

If Latrell were a drought there’d be types arguing the veracity of climate change.

The fact he’s black… I dunno. Probably not for mine to comment. But I’m gonna anyway. That’s a long and risible bow.

People have drawn a line between Mitchell’s Indigenous roots and reports of him driving a flash Mercedes as an example of the white hegemony keeping the black man down.

And I dunno about that one.

Indeed I believe that it’s bullshit.

I don’t know Jimmy Hooper. Met him a couple of times. Nice fellah.

And he doesn’t write the headlines.

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But it’s nothing to do with his skin colour.

Describing the car as a “mystery Mercedes”, it’s not anything sinister. It effectively means Hoops doesn’t know whose car it is.

But it’s “colour”, as they say. And it resonated. And caused something of a flap.

But about race? Come on.

Here’s the first few pars:

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“Roosters insiders first started to have concerns about Latrell Mitchell’s head space when the Kangaroos centre was spotted rocking up to training in a flash new Mercedes S63 Turbo AMG sports car valued at around $250,000.

“Given the Roosters chairman Nick Politis has amassed part of his $600 million fortune courtesy of the motor vehicle industry, the obvious question was had Uncle Nick helped Latrell find a new set of wheels?

“The answer is an unequivocal no. So where had the mystery Mercedes come from then? Mitchell apparently told teammates it belonged to a friend.”

Now, if you want to glean an inference it isn’t that Mitchell’s black and the White Man wants to remind a black one of his station, it’s that the Roosters were worried that Mitchell was getting full of himself. And if there’s a crime in a footy club it’s being a big-head.

Anthony Mundine never quite copped to that. People still liked him. But all his “the man” bluster was better suited to the singular pursuit of boxing.

As for the Roosters being “frustrated” that Latrell’s testing his value on the open market for 2021… please.

Footy clubs shop extraneous players off all the time. People are still urging Mitchell to stick solid by staying with the Roosters out of loyalty.

Latrell Mitchell

(Matt King/Getty Images)

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It’d be like being loyal to the Commonwealth Bank while the bank is on a constant mission to both replenish their workforce with younger, cheaper workers while shifting older ones out the door after they’ve seen out short-term contracts.

Hard to be loyal to a company that will, one day, it’s certain, in the not-distant future, run you through the ringer of redundancy.

And our Latrell – let’s say he’s the very best financial planner in the bank, someone who’s brought exponential worth to the bank – is just out seeing what other banks think he’s worth.

And a 22-year-old reportedly turned down a personal entreaty from the coach. Takes a little chutzpah, that.

And Roosters Inc. can be as frustrated as they like, and have a dig at him by telling media that he turned up to training in a flash Merc, the inference being that he’s getting above his station and/or making a point which, for mine, again, has nothing to do with his Aboriginality and everything do with a football club worrying a 22-year-old was buying into the hype and getting full of himself, and believing he’s worth a mill a year.

Jamie Soward made a good point when he tweeted that he hasn’t heard from Mitchell himself in any of the media reports.

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He followed it up with a fairly naïve one when he said everyone should let Mitchell just get on with it.

As they say: yeah, nah. And I’ll give Jamie and everyone else the tip – the media has talked to Team Mitchell. That’s largely where these stories emanate – the player managers feed the beast. Clubs do it, too. Plant yarns. Plant seeds.

Some of it’s gossip that becomes fact. Lot of it is. Some of it doesn’t eventuate for whatever reason. Doesn’t make it untrue when it’s reported.

The Dogs were interested in Mitchell. Reports say they’re not now. Doesn’t make the original report wrong.

And if you’re sitting back now, scrolling ever further down across the glass of your very smart phone, and wondering how journos can live with themselves, then you, friend, are rather missing the elephant in the room.

And that elephant is you. And if you see it as a problem the way that media is reporting that the game’s best centre is testing the markets, then you are part of the problem.

Sorry, buckaroo. But it’s true: if you weren’t interested in this stuff, media wouldn’t write it.

The numbers are clear – write the nice, feel-good, player-visits-orphanage and delivers teddy bears dressed as Santa, numbers flatline.

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Report that there’s ructions at the premiers because the game’s best centre is driving about in a “mysterious” Mercedes when the club’s owner is a stupid-wealthy car dealer – and mention Anthony Mundine – then, well… click-click-boom.

Latrell Mitchell

(Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

And it’s you, friend, doing the clicking.

Media is just reporting the machinations. And people are eating it up. Because it’s interesting!

And that’s why Latrell may even be worth $1 million a year, because we find the game and all these internal, Machiavellian manoeuvres bloody interesting.

And fact is, Sow-wow-official, and all you folks scrolling through this gibber, is that the off-season market movements of the game’s best centre is bloody interesting.

That he’s black is sub-text and irrelevant.