Former AFL players have expressed relief that Adelaide Crows midfielder David Mackay escaped suspension following a landmark tribunal case, although some believe a reckoning could still be coming for hard contact.
- The commentary among past and present players has supported the tribunal’s decision to clear Adelaide defender David Mackay of rough conduct
- Crows premiership player Rod Jameson told ABC the fact the case went to the tribunal was “clearly driven by the AFL and Steve Hocking”
- Essendon great Matthew Lloyd said he has “a great sense of relief for the game that McKay got found not guilty”
Mackay was cleared over a collision that left St Kilda’s Hunter Clark with a broken jaw, in what was widely seen as a test case in the league’s bid to mitigate concerns about concussion.
During a lengthy hearing, the Crows successfully argued the contact was accidental and a “pure football collision” between two players engaging in a contest.
“I think the commentary across the landscape from past greats, past players and even currents players, has been that David Mackay attacked the football as any player should in this day and age, even if you appreciate the need to protect the head and avoid concussions,” Crows premiership player Rod Jameson told ABC Sport.
“It was clearly driven by the AFL and (football operations manager) Steve Hocking that this one had to go from the MRO up to the tribunal, because there was no rule in place that he’d broken – so that was clearly evident and the outcome came accordingly.”
Essendon great Matthew Lloyd echoed the sentiments of many across social media by questioning Hocking’s intervention.
“I have a great sense of relief for the game that McKay got found not guilty,” Lloyd posted.
“I can only imagine how he is feeling. Would love to know who Steve Hocking consulted before getting this to the point that it did.”
Whether the tribunal’s repudiation of Hocking’s direct referral will slow the league’s push for change is doubtful.
“I wouldn’t want to be doing this exact same thing next week,” former North Melbourne player David King told Fox Footy.
“Players accept that there’s a shift. It may not be legislated, it may not be in print just yet, but I think we will get there.
“It might be three years, might be five years, but we’ll get there because the cost is too significant.”
But Jameson has urged administrators not to tinker with the fabric of the game.
“Protect the head, protect the player – I get it. But keep the contest within our sport,” he told ABC Sport.
“If you’re going to take out that genuine, fierce contest, respectfully you might as well play basketball or netball, where it’s a non-contact sport. That’s not how we play our game.”