Norm Smith Medallist
- May 18, 2008
- AFL Club
Welcome to Way Too Early, I’m Kasey Hunt, and, at Way Too Early, we like to know why you’re up way too early. Flicker, from the Inner West, says she’s not up way too early because she’s in Australia - so a big shout out to all our international viewers. And, speaking of Australia, it’s bye round in the Australian Football League and we’ve got it all covered. Don’t go anywhere, Morning Joe starts right now.
It’s Monday, June 14. Along with Joe, Willie, and me, we have president of the National Action Network and host of Politics Nation the Reverend Al Sharpton and NBC News Capitol Hill correspondent and host of Way Too Early Kasey Hunt. The Richmond Tigers are the back-to-back premiers and we’re going to talk all things AFL. Seriously, whose idea for a show was this?
You know, Mika, I’m just a dumb Southern lawyer ...
Oh, here we go ...
But if I wanted to beat the Tigers, I wouldn’t be looking at rule changes. I mean, how stupid are these guys at AFL House? Steve Hocking, this is the guy they appointed as head of football. And the chief executive, Gillon McLachlan, he went to Stanford - the Cornell of the west - and represented the state in polo. Don’t get me wrong, I love these schools. I’ve had Ivy League graduates working for me since I was 24-years-old. But the Tigers, they won their first premiership in 37 years and they all lose their minds. They bring in this six-six-six rule. Then they bring in a stand rule. It’s such a bush league move. It was meant to increase scoring but it’s done the exact opposite. You see teams kicking one goal after quarter-time. But here’s the thing, Mika: The Tigers were the Washington Generals of the AFL. They’d gone through a string of coaches, they hadn’t won a final since 2001. Two-thousand-and-one! They appointed Damien Hardwick as their head coach. I mean, this is the guy that went for a job interview at the Bombers and couldn’t get his laptop to work. Then they used their top draft pick on a guy who was twice rejected by the Demons. And their captain. His nickname - and, before people get offended, the guy’s White - his nickname is “Chimp.” Help me out here, Willie, how did these guys win three premierships?
That’s such a great question, Joe, but this is a great team. They’ve been up and down this season but those two players you allude to, Dustin Martin and Trent Cotchin, they’ve both won the Brownlow Medal, the senior competition’s equivalent of the Heisman Trophy. Martin’s won the Norm Smith Medal for best on ground in the Grand Final three times. That’s never been done. And Cotchin, he’s captained the Tigers more times than anyone in the club’s history and he’s led them to those three premierships. This is the most successful team since Hawthorn.
Hawthorn? I mean, really, Willie! Hawthorn? How many premierships did Hawthorn win in the two decades that FDR and Harry Truman were reshaping the modern world? They didn’t win any! They didn’t win their first premiership until JFK was in the White House. But what does it say that all the Tiger premierships - all their recent premierships - came under Donald Trump? What’s that telling us, Rev?
I wouldn’t read too much into that, Joe, because this is a diverse team. They’ve got some great Aboriginal players. Daniel Rioli - from a great family of footballers - he’s been instrumental in those three premierships. He kicked four goals in the penultimate game in 2017 and put them into that first Grand Final. And Marlion Pickett. Another great story. This is a man that has turned his life around and now he’s played in two premierships. And one of their best players is a Muslim. We know that Muslims are great athletes, such as Muhammad Ali, but they’re great in team sports, too. Kareem Abdul Jabbar - the inventor of the skyhook - and the great defender Hakeem Olajuwon. Bachar Houli’s been a great player at the Tigers. And he’s a great person, too, Joe.
You know you’ve got a great team when you’ve got those players with character because it’s not just the on-field, it’s all the off-field stuff that’s going to make or break a club. Kasey, what’s your reporting telling you about the Tigers?
That’s such a great point, Joe, and the Tigers have been great off the field, too. They appointed Peggy O’Neal as president - the first woman ever to serve as a president. Imagine that, a woman as president! And she’s been critical in that success. And Brendan Gale as CEO. People laughed when the club announced their ten-year, 3-0-75 plan. But they did it: Three flags, no debt, 75,000 members.
Thank you very much, Kasey. Still to come on Morning Joe. We know that Melbourne fans love their cheese platters.
And the snow season!
But could this be the year that they have something more to celebrate?
You know, Mika, plenty of people are saying that the Demons are peaking too early. I mean, they win their first nine games and then they lose to the Crows. We all know these guys that peak too early. That good-looking kid you went to school with, who got a truck for his 16th birthday. You see him a few years later, you’re in the House of Representatives and he’s working on the checkout at Costco.
Okay, we’ve totally missed the break at the top of the hour ...