Jason Akermanis has hit out at former Western Bulldogs teammate Bob Murphy and the ABC over a 'Four Corners' episode shining a light on an infamous saga that ultimately spelled the end of his AFL career. Akermanis featured on Monday's episode of the ABC show, in which he discussed a controversial 2010 article he wrote about gay players in footy, headlined with: “Stay in the closet”.
Shortly after the article was printed, the Bulldogs terminated Akermanis' contract. Breaking his long silence on the ugly saga, Murphy told the ABC he was "disgusted, embarrassed and hurt" by his former teammate's stance on homosexuality.
Akermanis insisted he was not homophobic but doubled down on what he wrote in the article after questioning the wisdom of being the first player to come out as gay in the AFL and the spotlight that would put that player under. “Why would you bother. We don’t care, it’s up to you. Why would you want to? Think about it. Is it worth it? he asked. "They’re good questions to ask. You’ve got to weigh it up. It is a heavy burden.”
Murphy said he still had trouble mentioning Akermanis by name but told the program that players should feel free to express themselves in whatever way they want, not dissuaded from doing so. He said he hoped the AFL would one day celebrate its first openly gay player and insisted that person would be fully supported and embraced by the game with open arms.
Jason Akermanis slams 'two-faced' Bob Murphy
Clearly unhappy about the way he was portrayed on the ABC program, Akermanis accused Murphy of being "two-faced" and the network of being "very biased" with its telling of the story. “Just because someone hasn’t come out yet doesn’t mean the AFL isn’t doing enough," Akermanis told the Herald Sun. “I played with (a gay player) at Brisbane and none of us cared. It didn’t worry me, I’ve got gay friends, it’s your business.”
The former Brownlow Medallist also focused his criticism on Murphy and claims he was contacted by numerous people "disappointed" with how his former teammate and the ABC portrayed him. Akermanis - who is now working as a real estate agent - also accused Murphy of helping to drive him out of the sport in 2010, after the initial article was published.
“With his help and the Bulldogs, they made sure the AFL industry didn’t employ me. He was rubbishing my brand and he avoided me until I got sacked," Akermanis added. “Don’t tell us you’re all high and mighty and the reality is the opposite. He sooked it up then and he still is. He’s so two-faced and after all these years he still hasn’t got (the situation) out of his head.”
The Western Bulldogs terminated the contract of Akermanis two months after his newspaper column. Murphy - who was a teammate of his at the time - only this week broke his long silence on the saga. He also said he couldn't wait for the day until the AFL celebrated the first openly gay player in its history.
“I would think that for a player to stand in front of his teammates and say, ‘I’m gay and I’m one of you and I want you to accept me’, like that would be a superpower for your football team and club. I want a gay footballer in my football club so we can wrap our arms around him and say, ‘You’re one of us. We love you. You’re brave. You’re braver than anyone in this league, so that makes us braver than anyone else’. That will help us win. Then we might get change.”
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