Yet the Brownlow still fails to honor the diverse talents of the best AFL players.
Weitering has only received three votes in his eight-year career. His young team-mate, Sam Walsh, amassed 30 in 2021 alone. We know Walsh will have every chance to bring Charlie home, but Weitering – no matter how he performs – will do well to get five or six votes.
Compare the top six in 2022 and the past two decades to the Brownlow tally from 30 years ago, when Scott Wynd won the medal, Jason Dunstall second, Ken Hinkley third, Stewart Loewe fourth, Wayne Carey and Darren Jarman tied for fifth: that’s , in order, a ruckman, a full-forward, a running half-back flanker, two central half-forwards and a midfielder with silky delivery.
Former Fremantle coach and ex-demon Chris Connolly argues that the AFL needs to change the voting system to recognize non-midfielders on either side of the field, such as May and Moore, or key forwards.
The main forwards fared slightly better than the rearguard in 2022, with Jeremy Cameron getting 19 votes and Tom Lynch 14. Cameron’s number would have been enough to win in some past seasons. This year, Cripps polled 29 and voted inflation for the best handful, meaning recent winners have regularly crossed 30.
“It’s an embarrassing thing,” Connolly said of the referees’ rejection of key players, adding that he “didn’t want to take anything away from Patrick Cripps”.
Connolly is an advocate for handing the ballot to experts, in the form of coaches, rather than the always controversial, yet unique system of the umpires casting the votes. He says that if players like May and Moore can’t get votes, the vote in those matches will be distorted in favor of midfielders.
“The coaches need to be involved… and the votes need to be collected on a Tuesday night when the game is parsed.” The umpires, he said, had too much on their plate to vote accurately.
However, like the players’ most valuable player award and any media award, the coaches also favor the midfielders, although the coaches placed Jeremy Cameron seventh, Shai Bolton 11th, Lynch 13th and James Sicily 14th.
The game, as Connolly explained, has evolved into one where the midfielders have no direct opponents – they play within a “structure” that includes defensive measures – but the key attackers and defenders have that responsibility.
It is noteworthy that player salaries, such as those for Buddy Franklin, Tom Lynch and increasingly long backs (Moore is Collingwood’s highest paid, aside from Brodie Grundy), paint a fairer picture of how clubs value players than the medal, the MVP or even club championships. . The Brownlow, whether the best player, is not the fairest.
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