Footy legend Tim Watson has faced criticism for comments he made on radio after it emerged Adam Goodes had rejected an offer to be inducted into the AFL Hall of Fame.
The Sydney legend was the victim of unacceptable racism and booed out of the game, and told the AFL he didn’t want to be part of the Hall of Fame because of the way his career ended.
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Speaking about Goodes’ decision on SEN Breakfast on Tuesday, Essendon great Watson said he was “surprised that he (Goodes) had rejected it” and bridges hadn’t been mended.
“I’m trying to put myself in his shoes, which is always a difficult thing to do because of the journey that he’s travelled, where he was in the last couple of years of his career, the reception that he received when he played, the fact that he didn’t feel like the game itself — being the administration of the game — supported him around that period of time,” Watson said.
“(I’m surprised) because I would have thought … he’s been retired for five years, I would’ve thought in that five years repatriation had taken place and that the damage that occurred at that time I thought it might have eased on him mentally and he might have been able to repair some of those bridges between himself and the game and feel differently about his time and then just appreciated all the great things about the game that were delivered to him and that he earned for himself.
“We always say time is a great healer, I just thought that the time may have healed all those differences. Clearly, it hasn’t.
“It’s his right, it’s his entitlement not to accept an induction if that’s the way that he feels. I’m saddened by all that though. I’m sad that it cut him so deeply that five years on, he still feels like he doesn’t have a place in AFL football.”
In 2019 the AFL finally issued an apology to Goodes and admitted it didn’t do enough at the time to stamp out the racist booing and despicable treatment of one of the finest players the game has seen.
Watson acknowledged what happened was unacceptable, but came under fire for appearing to suggest he was surprised Goodes hadn’t been able to mend relationships that had been broken by his traumatic saga.
Adam Goodes deserved better.Source:AAP
Journalist Greg Jericho tweeted: “‘We always say time is a great healer, I just thought that the time may have healed all those differences. Clearly, it hasn’t’. Wait? You mean you can’t just sweep it under the rug and wait??”
Reporter Robert Lusetich replied: “As if Adam Goodes is the one who needs to be repairing bridges that were nuked by those hiding behind other reasons to boo him. Adam is the only one with his pride and integrity intact in that entire mess.
“The AFL, and Australia, let down Adam Goodes, not the other way around.
“What happened to Adam Goodes is a travesty. Anyone who can’t see that needs to look in the mirror, not wonder why he hasn’t repaired bridges.”
Journalist Maddison Connaughton responded to Watson’s comments by writing: “This really sums up the attitude that ‘he might have been able to repair some of those bridges between himself and the game’ as though the AFL has no role to play.”
Replying to Watson’s take, sports commentator and former radio and TV personality Francis Leach tweeted sarcastically: “Just forgive and forget, because, you know, it’s footy! They still don’t get it.”
Former Socceroo Francis Awaritefe added: “Yep, they still don’t get it. Many just don’t get how harmful the impacts of racism on the likes of Goodes, Lumumba, Wilkinson and many many Indigenous players over the years. The wounds go deep. In some instances, some never fully recover.”
Speaking on Fox Footy on Tuesday night, Eddie Betts — who has called out racial abuse during his career — said time doesn’t heal all wounds.
“It leaves a scar and when you talk about racial abuse and would time heal that, time can’t heal racism, that sticks with you forever,” Betts said. “When I think about it, I think about every time I’ve been racially abused and it cuts me deep, it really does, it still cuts me to this day and I think it’s going to hurt for the rest of my life. I think what happened to Adam will hurt him for the rest of his life.
“I think people out there have to respect his decision and understand his decision, I know it’s been out in the media today and I know there will be a lot of comments about Adam and his life but I just believe that people need to respect Adam’s decision, this is his decision, he’s been racially abused.
“If you haven’t been racially abused, then you don’t know what it feels like, it cuts you deep and obviously it cut Adam really deep and hopefully people out there can respect the decision that Adam doesn’t want to accept that.”
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