AFL player Elijah Taylor has won The Frownlow Medal in 2020 after also earning a Wife Beater tattoo for assaulting his ex-girlfriend. Taylor earned two separate nominations in one year and this helped him defeat rivals Jarryd Hayne and Jack de Belin and become the first non-NRL player to win the award.
Taylor pleaded guilty to physically assaulting his ex-girlfriend and was sacked by the Sydney Swans as well as being fined $5000. He had already been suspended earlier in the year for breaching strict COVID-19 protocols to sneak the same woman into the Swan’s team hotel in Perth. 2020 was the 19-year-old’s debut season, and he looks unlikely to play AFL in the future.
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, while NRL player Ben Barba is the most recent recipient.
Taylor’s rivals included the three alleged rapists, as well as another suspected wife beater in Collingwood player Jordan de Goey. He also saw off challenges from 50 other footballers, and 30 fellow COVID-19 breachers including Nathan Cleary and Lachie Hunter.
During the awards night for The Frownlow Medal and The Frownlow Medal Hall of Fame, Taylor paid tribute to the ingrained misogyny of professional football in Australia and the confidence it gave him to physically assault his ex-girlfriend. He thanked his fellow nominees and also thanked the judicial system for failing to reach a verdict in the sexual assault cases of Hayne and De Belin.
“I knew they were my toughest competition, and I have to give credit to them for their performance this year, but I’m just glad the judges saw that I put in the hard yards and I’m lucky to come away with the win.”
The AFL has finally lifted the award from the NRL, which had taken the honours every year since 2015. Former AFL player Karmichael Hunt won the award in 2018, but he also played NRL and Super Rugby.
Ironically, Taylor was later caught trying to sneak someone into the awards venue, until judges reminded him that this is the Frownlow, so anything goes. Taylor can now spend the 2021 AFL season admiring his shiny new medal and staring at his Wife Beater tattoo.