Well, it was bound to happen. Finally, an out-of-control Aussie Rules footballer has combined their prized on-field aggression with contempt for the paying public and unleashed a storm of fury that has seen at least one teenager with a busted up face. Port Adelaide's star Dean Brogan (known as The Ogre due to his enormous two metre frame and inability to control his fists) copped some mild heckling at Adelaide Airport on Saturday, 3rd of June. Specifically, he was told by 19 year-old Dale Mortimer "You're playing for the wrong team, you dickhead!". Hardly the worst or most provocative abuse for someone paid hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to put up with such slights.
Dean "The Ogre" Brogan challenged and confronted the frightened teenager:
"I thought he would be able to take it, but unfortunately I was the one who took it this time."
Dale said 2m-tall Brogan, a former professional basketball player, yelled for him to "Come back and say that to my face".
"I just kept walking but he followed me," Dale said. "I turned around and said, 'What do you want?'
"He said, 'What did you call me?' I said, 'You want me to call you a d---head to your face?' and he flicked my hat off with one hand and punched me."
Witnesses said Brogan turned around and walked to the plane, leaving Dale bleeding profusely from the nose. He also sustained a head injury when his hat was knocked off. (News.com.au, 4/6/2006)
Dale claims he was was thrown back 3m by the force of the unexpected punch, which broke his nose.
Teenager Dale Mortimer nurses his broken nose after being king-hit by Dean "The Ogre" Brogan.
Naturally, the police are investigating the king-hit, but Dale is unhappy with the progress. I can hardly blame him; if the Victorian police are anything to go by, the South Australian police will be too star-struck - or worried about stuffing up their tips for the weekend by benching a star player - to properly investigate. Sadly, there is no justice in this world for people attacked by AFL footballers. In the eyes of the media, courts and public opinion, they are Gods among insects - Nietzchean übermensch if you will - and have carte blanche to bash, rape and snort as they see fit.
Still, if we had any shred of public decency, here's what should happen. (While I don't think any of this will eventuate, it's still worth noting so that, at some future time, a civilisation may rise from the ashes of this one and know that some of us still new right from wrong.)
1) Criminal law. The police should collect witness statements, physical evidence and charge Dean Brogan with a series of offenses, not least of all assault. He should appear before a magistrate, plead guilty, be convicted and sentenced. This sentence should depend on his prior convictions but probably not involve jail time.
2) Civil law. Dean Brogan should publicly apologise to Dale Mortimer and pay a large settlement - equivalent to say three months of The Ogre's income - as compensation and punitive damages.
3) Club response. Port Adelaide should sanction Dean Brogan through fines and suspensions. They must make it clear that he has shamed their club and they are not willing to have him represent them on-field owing to the disgrace. He should also agree to some sort of good work involving promoting anger management in the wider community.
4) Public response. Failure to realise any of the above should see a ground swell of public outrage - led by the tabloid media - demanding the sacking of police, censure of magistrates or non-payment of club memberships dues (as required). Further lack of action should see the boycotting of footy matches and the threatened toppling of the State Government unless it cleans up the way these complaints are handled (ha ha).
Of course, I doubt any of these things will happen. Already, the club is spinning it hard ...
[ABC journalist Peter Walsh reports that] " ... they have people, they have counsellors there at the footy club who would talk to Dean about this sort of behaviour, about it not being acceptable.
" ... it may then mean that Dean faces some sort of punishment away from the realms of the Port Adelaide Football Club, but we'll have to wait and see what happens. (ABC, 5/6/2006)
Yeah, right. No doubt some dodgy backroom deal will see the criminal, civil and club sanctions get traded-off - a bit of cash here, a po-faced press conference there, and the whole thing will get swept under the carpet. Public interest will focus on someone-or-other's groin. Nothing - and I mean nothing - is allowed to interfere with an AFL club fielding its best (ie most violent) players.
As long as the players abstain from bashing or raping the immediate relatives of police, magistrates, politicians and journalists, they can continue to unleash a wave of self-indulgent and unrestrained violence on the rest of us. It disgraces our entire society that we are all complicit in this.
*** UPDATE ***
Port Adelaide has decided to fine Dean Brogan $5000 (about a week's pay) and abjectly refused to suspend him:
Brogan will also be required to do 20 hours of community service and will undertake counselling, while the matter is still to be examined by the police.
[AFL Football Operations Manager Adrian] Anderson said it was important for clubs to handle in-house matters and that ultimately the case would be handled by police.
"We prefer the clubs as the direct employers to deal with these instances where possible and not to come over the top as the paternalistic AFL," he said.
"I think in this case Port Adelaide has dealt with this responsibly and the matter is still to be played out in terms of what (other) action may be taken."
"We have worked closely with Port and the matter is still in the hands of the police.
"The incident was unacceptable and the police are investigating that and he is probably subject to the laws of the land like everyone else." (AFL Press Release, 11/6/2006)
So, Dean Brogan will be signing footballs for school kids somewhere - or pulling beers in the club room - for his sins. What a joke. The AFL is plumbing new depths with the claim that it would be "paternalistic" to signal that it actually matters that footballers don't behave like childish thugs. It was magnanimous of this AFL apparatchik to declare that Dean Brogan is "probably subject to the law of the land". I certainly hope the SA police pull finger and remove any lingering doubt. I wonder if these people even read their own press releases?
*** UPDATE ***
The horrible Dean Brogan story just go worse. In addition to breaking a teenager's nose and getting off without serious sanction from his club or the league, new info has come to light about past infractions from the uncontrollable Ogre:
The Sunday Mail has learned the ruckman was reported for assault occasioning actual bodily harm in connection with an incident last October in which he allegedly repeatedly punched a doctor.
Brogan was reported for the serious offence in March following an intensive investigation by Sturt CIB detectives. The investigation file was reviewed by a senior commissioned officer before the decision to report him was made.
Sturt commander Superintendent Paul Dickson yesterday confirmed Brogan was facing action over the October incident.
"He has been reported in relation to that matter," he said. "The matter is pending adjudication in the Adelaide Criminal Justice section. Where it is in the process, I can't say at present."
The incident happened last October when Brogan, 28, was walking his dog in the grounds of the Goodwood Orphanage. His dog was involved in a fight with two dogs belonging to Hyde Park surgeon Dr Zahi Khouri. As a result, Dr Khouri, 41, made a complaint to police which alleged Brogan assaulted him. Brogan was initially reluctant to co-operate, but was later interviewed by the detectives. (Adelaide's Sunday Mail, 11/6/2006)
Unbelievable. How did this slip under the radar for so long? Does the AFL Players Association now have a "You have to get caught bashing three times before we can name the player" rule? I hope this silences those who claim that footballers are subject to complete scrutiny by their friends and buddies in the media.
It seems that Dean Brogan has a habit of bashing people to deal with conflict or strife. Lashing out like that from a petulant child is a worry. Coming from a huge, physically-imposing, two metre thug is a public danger. At a bare minimum, Port Adelaide should be require to ensure that Brogan can only appear in public with a muzzle, cuffs and two marksmen with tranquiliser darts on stand-by. They can let him out of the cuffs and muzzle in the club rooms before the match and to train, and not a minute sooner.
On the plus side, the underwhelming response from his club and the league at these outrages has goaded some footy insiders into a frank reassessment of the way players are feted and protected. Most notably The Age's Carolin Wilson penned a stirring call to arms against the disgusting pandering and lapses in judgement by the players' handlers. Good on her for highlighting the warped values and sickening culture of cover-ups.
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