Silly season turns to sympathy season for Fevola
The most remarkable Brendan Fevola-related fact, shocking as it is, is not that he made a clumsy, desperate, albeit half-hearted attempt at suicide after a domestic spat and “three or four bottles of wine”, as revealed at around the three minute mark of his interview on the AFL Footy Show last night.
Neither is it that he was turfed out of Crown Casino yesterday for playing poker, despite the fact he is, supposedly, a recovering gambling addict who once lost $365,000 in a day and who admits he had been visited by tough guy debt collectors.
No, the really surprising thing about the special, warped little corner of the universe reserved for all things Brendan Fevola, is that Fevola is now the subject of enormous public sympathy, if the twittersphere and many other more traditional media outlets are to be believed.
We have duly included all the relevant contact details at the bottom of this piece for anyone with serious self esteem or addiction issues, For god’s sake, and for that of your family and friends, call someone if you’re not coping.
Fevola admitted in the Footy Show interview that he has depression. He also said he has ADD. So OK, Fevola deserves help. No disputes there. But sympathy is something else again.
This, remember, is a guy who has brought on so many of his own problems. He admitted as much to Footy Show interviewer Craig Hutchison, when he said: “I’ve been through a lot of crap but I brought it all on myself.”
Fevola can be incredibly likeable. There’s a great line just after the seven minute mark of the interview when he says “I got arrested for public nuisance, which I am anyway”.
In the old days, people like Fevola were celebrated, to a point, as “larrikins”. They trained hard, played hard, acted up like mad occasionally, and as long as no one else got hurt, that was OK.
Today, their antics are regarded as an outright threat to the very fabric of the all-good AFL (or equivalent sporting body). A great example of over-the-top tut-tutting was the response to the Western Bulddogs’ antics in Hong Kong over summer, which were pretty harmless really.
But the public outcry to most of Fevola’s wrongdoings is not concocted. Fevola has been stupid, many times. And people earning an honest wage - not to mention those earning a dishonest one - find it hard to stomach.
Many footballers hate being automatically called a role model. That’s understandable. The flipsides is that footballers get a leg-up in life in ways most people can only dream about.
After their careers, employment if often easier to find. Whether it’s a commentary box or a panel beater’s, who doesn’t want an ex-full forward brightening up the place by spinning old war yarns at morning tea?
Sports stars also get the best seats at all kind of sporting and other events round town. And they get access to the best facilities, when in need. Your everyday drug addict wouldn’t be whooshed off to a state of the art LA clinic like Ben Cousins was. In Fev’s case, he had a saloon passage to Brisbane’s New Farm clinic.
So the fish bowl is constricting but it is also a place where your needs are taken care of, and you are safe from sharks. If you’re smart enough to stay in the fish bowl and behave.
Fevola wasn’t. Never was. Whether it was wearing enormous pink dildos to Mad Monday or a string of weird dalliances with Lara Bingle, he was always out there, begging to be mocked, beckoning trouble to come closer. It usually did.
So there he was in Crown casino yesterday, being escorted from the poker tables. Fevola says he was betting small stakes. There is no reason to disbelieve this, although the fact his Brisbane Lions payout came in one lump sum was hardly ideal, as Fevola’s manager Alastair Lynch pointed out.
But whether he was betting fives, tens, fifties or thousands, you’d struggle to maintain your serious face if a recovering alcoholic told you they “weren’t drinking scotch again, just having a couple of beers.”
We should all be glad that Fevola’s kids still have their dad. But as some point, it’s really stretching it to see this guy as a Capital V Victim.
There is a pattern to sports star victimhood, a cycle. You go off the rails, you hit whatever version of rock bottom you hit, then you fess up and all, supposedly is good again. Worked a treat for Cousie, and it worked a treat for NRL player Todd Carney in 2010, though after his third DUI two weeks go, the jury’s out again.
While Fevola was open, honest and reflective enough in the Footy Show interview, the scenes after he was busted at Crown yesterday erased every ounce of sincerity in an instant.
The penny’s finally dropped, mate.” Fevola told Craig Hutchison.
Has it Fev? Has it really?
Help yourself Fev, then maybe the public sympathy will be more than lip service. And if you need a second opinion, read Mike Sheahan’s column.
Anyone with personal problems can call Lifeline on 131 114. Anyone with gambling issues should call the National Gambling Helpline – 1800 858 858
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