The AFL may have just handed The Frownlow Medal to the NRL in 2019.
Reports suggest that AFL players are using a mental health loophole to avoid punishment for the use of illicit drugs. Without punishment, players will not receive a Frownlow nomination and a Rugby League player could be in line to win the award for the fifth year in a row.
The Frownlow Medal is awarded to the player whose off-field demeanour epitomises the values of the modern-day footballer and draws attention to the status of footballers as role models to young Australians. It covers Australia’s four major football codes; the National Rugby League (NRL), Australian Football League (AFL), the A-League (Football) and Rugby Union’s Super Rugby competition. NRL player Shaun Kenny-Dowall won the inaugural medal in 2015 and code-swapper Karmichael Hunt was the most recent recipient.
Illicit drug use is extremely widespread in the AFL, according to recently retired player Nick Riewoldt, who claims that players are using the mental health loophole to avoid being punished for breaking the rules.
This situation will make it impossible for AFL players to compete for The Frownlow Medal against NRL players who are yet again dominating the nominations. Already in 2019, and even before the AFL and NRL seasons begin, 13 Rugby League players, and one club, have been nominated.
Six of the players are being investigated for alleged violence against women, two for fighting with taxi drivers, one for drink driving, two for fighting and two for videos leaked on the internet – one of which involved a budding porn star. An entire club, the Cronulla Sharks, even got itself banned from a licensed premises in The Shire.
In response, only four AFL players have earned a nomination, and for relatively minor incidents. Without illicit drug scandals, the AFL faces a tough challenge winning The Frownlow Medal.
Then again, as they say in footy, anything can happen.I