Parton / What’s behind the boofheads?

“Wayward players and off-field misdemeanours have had a major impact on the fortunes of the Canberra Raiders,” says columnist MARK PARTON

I HAVE a theory about boofhead footballers, the ones who can’t seem to get their heads out of the newspapers.

Mark Parton

Mark Parton

I’m from WA, so I played AFL… badly. I wasn’t a great footballer for two main reasons: (A) I didn’t have any natural talent or ability, but (B) – and probably more important than (A) – I had far too much regard for my own safety and wellbeing.

I was averse to risking harm, would think twice before launching myself for a big pack mark and unlikely to run back with the flight of the ball and keep my eye on it (I heard footsteps all the time).

Most of the great footballers, and I’m talking AFL, NRL and Union, are risk takers.

They begin to shine at juniors because they have natural talent and because most of them have no fear. Eventually they get so good at it they’re able to ride the bumps, take the tackles and avoid the hits, but the risk is always there.

While playing on the big stage, they’re encouraged to keep on taking risks and they’re rewarded for doing so. When you get a bunch of twentysomething, testosterone-driven young men whose professional lives are built around extreme risk-taking behaviour, why are we all surprised when these boys continue to take risks after the game?

I’m not defending or trying to justify the actions of Todd Carney, Ben Cousins, Josh Dugan and the like, but saying it shouldn’t be a big surprise that some elite footballers struggle to see the boundaries.

Wayward players and off-field misdemeanours have had a major impact on the fortunes of the Canberra Raiders.

I had the pleasure of catching up with the legendary Ray Warren, who was promoting his new book, “The Voice”, and we got talking about the NRL’s bad boys and why there are so many of them.

“Rabs” believes that the immediate future of the Raiders depends on our ability to make the capital attractive to star players and then getting them to stay focused.

Risk-taking footballers are great for the game because they’re wonderful to watch. Let’s hope that more and more of the Raiders players can learn to see the difference between football and life.

 

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