First of all, I’m sending you wishes of a speedy recovery in the hope that you return to full health. I’m sure I’m not alone in wanting to see you back on field soon and was relieved to hear this morning that you’re out of Intensive Care.
As a fellow sandgroper who like you – grew up in the southern suburbs of Perth but have moved interstate to fulfil lifelong dreams avoid unemployment, I wanted to tell you what we – you’re supporters, are thinking… besides for you to get well.
Truthfully, if I had written to you ten years ago, the letter would have gone something like this:
You’re hot. Marry me.
Oceans of Love, Cindy
If I had written 5 years ago, it may have gone more along the lines of:
You’re a legend, an absolute bloody champion! You may have noticed the enclosed 76 West Coast Eagles Guernseys. These are for all my foster children in Africa and I would LOVE it if you could sign the FRONT of all of them, so I can pass them on. That would be great. DON’T WORRY about telling your management, just remember it’s 100% legit and for a good cause. The orphans thank you and will be chanting your name in harmonious celebration and ceremony.
Love your work. Cinders.
I’m only kidding Ben. I would NEVER be able to afford 76 foster children. It would be more like 30.
But footy seasons come and footy seasons go, and before you know it, life resembles nothing of the past. Things have changed. Like… you’re not an Eagle anymore. You’re a Tiger. A very flexible one by the look of it too.
I don’t know if you’ve heard, but this year is NOT year of the Tiger. Not in China, not in golf, and not in footy either.
Look don’t get me wrong, I STILL think you’re a champion, but HELL I DO NOT want to marry you.
And those Guernseys? I’d be a bit reluctant to sell those on eBay now. Not only because of the eBay police. But because…. Well you know.
I remember like it was yesterday the enormity of your very public demise. I felt sad for everything. Sad for the Eagles, sad for your gorgeous family, (who I have met… I organised your mother’s 50th and your brother’s 21st), and sad for you. Well I felt sad for you, until I saw you get arrested with your shirt off.
Mmmm.. That day – women Australia wide stopped being sad for you because how can you feel sad for someone who is totally FRYING YOUR BURGER!
I’ll say this. Being a champion sure does suit you… But so does being a bad boy. You must know this. I mean, secretly you love it right? Being one of AFL’s bad boys? Because you’re not doing anything to lose the image.
Not that I would put you in the ranks of someone like Fervola. He might get called ‘bad,’ but he’s not. He’s just a damn good footy player with no social etiquette and about as appealing to women as a feral wild pig. And Barry Hall? He’s considered bad but he’s not. He’s just stupid. A brainless chunk of macho carcass with a head more suited to ten pin bowling. Not the sport, the ball.
You are a ‘bad boy’ because nothing you’ve done is that unusual for a highly successful bloke you’re age. You’re extraordinarily talented, particularly good natured and very well spoken and well mannered. Plus you’re a hot spunk. But you’re mischievous.
So why can’t you shake the bad boy image?
Why is everyone presuming that this last trip to hospital was a result of more deceptive and illegal behaviour? “Suuuure it was a reaction to a prescription pill…” I’ve heard.
“Suuuure he just happened to shave off all his hair right before a drug test….” Was another one doing the rounds.
Can giving a camera the middle finger be that damaging to a reputation? I think moving to Melbourne was the start of shaking the rumours and negative image. Any underworld figures who lured you into their schemes and deals, any cohorts who participated in drug binges, any journalists who had it in for you… well they’re not so close now, and taking a side step into your old ways – even just for a weekend, is not so easy when it’s far away.
But Ben I think there’s more work to be done. Every time there’s a story on you, the drugs come up. An act for which you have self-confessed but do not even hold an offence for. In fact the ONLY offence you have against your name is a traffic offence for an unsafe U-turn. Like who’s never done that before?
But they add the car accident to their list of “Why Ben is a Bad Boy.”
“Oh he must have been driving under the influence of drugs.”
See what I mean? You have not shaken your past, despite doing your toxology tests, and coming through all clear… But I am going to tell you how you can.
Following your traffic offence, you were ordered to participate in community service and donate to charity. I think you’ve done that, by playing for Richmond.
However, I think you should do more!
Currently you do not support or back a charity. You should. (If you do, then why don’t we know?)
Get involved in your community and give of your money and time to those who will never have the opportunities you have had. Children who are forced to take drugs to survive.
There are DOZENS of celebrities who’ve been busted for drugs. Unfortunately we are much more hesitant to give our sporting celebs a second chance. But I think if Mickey Rourke can get nominated for a an Oscar, you should at least be in the running for another Brownlow before your footy career is over. But you guys who play footy are meant to be role models and heroes. So stop being a ‘fallen’ hero, and go be a fully upright one!
You’ve had a hero moment, when you won the Brownlow. How did it feel? You must’ve felt such a sense of accomplishment and worth. And then again when you won the Grand Final.
Did you know you can feel like that any time, by helping to support and encourage young kids? Or sick kids? Or sick adults? Or drug addicted teens?
I understand you’re probably a really busy guy. I know you have to commit a lot of time and physical energy to your sport, passion and career. But I think when the media and community at large see you giving of yourself and serving others, the rewards will outweigh the cost to you.
I should mention in closing that in some ways you are already providing a great service to parts of the community by keeping fit, and doing photo spreads in GQ magazine. Because I’m not alone is saying you really do sizzle my schnitzel, smoke my camembert, and char grill my chicken.
Yep. Meats and cheeses – you are rocking my deli baby!
I realise you have a lot to get through in the next week or so, concentrating on recovery and fitness, so I’ll understand if I don’t hear from you right away. But please give me a buzz before the off season, preferably before Mad Monday. (Let’s face it; you’re not winning any premierships this year…)
Oh well, SUCH IS LIFE hey Ben… there’s always next year.
Yours ever so admiringly