Patrick Dangerfield has broken the mould. The Geelong star and 2016 Brownlow Medalist has done what AFL players rarely do in the face of a distasteful Sam Newman tirade -- fight back.
Typically, when Newman says one of the countless distasteful or plain nasty things he's said on The Footy Show over the years, AFL players are silent. That includes players who are caught in the crossfire as guests on the panel -- who to be fair, are usually too stunned to know how to respond.
But Dangerfield just couldn't cop it after Newman grievously insulted transgender people by referring to U.S. television personality and former athlete Caitlyn Jenner as "it".
First, on his regular weekly slot on Melbourne radio station KIIS FM with Matt Tilley and Meshel Laurie, Dangerfield said he didn't think much of Newman's comments. That was a week ago. The 71-year-old TV veteran had a predictable crack at Dangerfield on The Footy Show a week later (June 29). Then Dangerfield again returned serve.
Here's how this played out in its entirety:
As mentioned, Newman made a lot of people a week ago when, in reference to Jenner, he said:
"Oh well what is she? Is it a he or a she?"
Dangerfield didn't think much of that. On KIIS FM last Thursday he called Newman "irrelevant", and also said:
I thought Sam was out of line, well off the mark... you certainly don't want to be part of an episode that has commentary like that because it puts you in a really uncomfortable position as a player sitting on the panel when crap is spoken like that.
During the week, Newman jumped through some public relations hoops. He met with Angie Greene, the CEO of Stand Up Events, a charity dedicated to fighting sexual and gender discrimination in sport and in life.
After speaking to Billy Brownless @billybrownless And the producer of The AFL Footy Show, I'm glad that Sam Newman asked if we could meet for coffee and talk about last weeks appalling comments towards the Trans Community. I have always said that an apology is fine, but igniting change and taking action is really all that matters. After speaking to Sam today, he needs to deliver what he promised - this week @aflfootyshow Thank you so much again to @stepping_stone_newport for staying open for us.
But on the Footy Show, Newman fired back at Dangerfield. You knew he was always going to fire back:
"If you're going to have a go at me for not understanding the political correctness of the era we live in, don't call me old didn't. I don't mind if you call me old but that is an ageist comment and it reflects badly on people in the workforce who are my age, who are still hanging on to a job.
He said the only person you watch on this show is this woman here, that is sexist in itself, and so let's be consistent instead of coming on here like a perfumed dwarf."
None of that made a whole lot of sense.
For one thing, Dangerfield never called Newman old. Nor is it clear how his respect for the work of a female presenter is inherently "sexist". As for the "perfumed dwarf" slur, Dangerfield is 189cm tall and we know nothing of his penchant (or otherwise) for fragrances.
Dangerfield's turn again. To his credit, he began this week's slot on KIIS in an apologetic vein.
"I went a bit far last week to be fair... I think I let my anger on Sam's comment spill over into a bit of a tirade about the show, which was off the mark and doesn't really reflect my views."
He then turned directly to Newman.
"My anger stems from... comments like Sam's that were broadcast last week. That's what kills me because I think football and footballers have such an enormously positive influence in the community."
There was more, but that snippet sums up the gist of Dangerfield's very simple, very human, very calm argument, which is that a little respect goes a long way, and that people in the public eye should do their best to help engender that respect -- if you'll excuse our pun.
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