In early March, legendary commentator Bruce McAvaney, who has called everything from footy to the Olympics, announced he was giving up his role as footy commentator with Australia's Channel Seven. Other than a five-year absence between 2002 and 2006 (when Seven lost the TV rights), McAvaney has been there with the free-to-air coverage. He has notched over 1000 games, including 20 Grand Finals; and formed a great partnership with the equally legendary Dennis Cometti (who retired several years ago). Although he is bowing out of football, he will continue with Seven's horse racing carnival and the 2021 Tokyo Olympics - his specialty is track and field.
In January, Collingwood president Eddie McGuire announced that he would be stepping down from his role at the end of year. However, he has decided to step down immediately after calls for his resignation and criticism of comments he made after a report of a "culture of racism" at the club was leaked to the media prematurely. The club had commissioned an independent investigation last June after former defender Heritier Lumumba (aka Harry O'Brien) told of the racism he encountered during his time at the club. He said on social media that he was subjected to racist jokes and nicknamed "Chimp". He also said Coach Nathan Buckley failed to support him. He was eventually traded to Melbourne where he saw out his career.
The AFL has announced their annual life members and the winners of the Jack Titus Award for service to the game. The life membership awards will officially be presented at the league AGM in March. Nine players and coaches qualified automatically by reaching the total of 300 games as either player or coach, including preseason games and international rules.
The Australian Sports Brain Bank has revealed the late Shane Tuck had a severe case of CTE, making him the third AFL player - after Graham "Polly Farmer and Danny Frawey - to have suffered from the crippling neurological disorder. The former Richmond star died in July last year at the age of 38 after a lengthy battle with mental health issues. Tuck’s family agreed to donate his brain to the Brain Bank and it was revealed he had stage three CTE. Neuropathologist Michael Buckland said, “It’s the worst case I’ve seen so far.
St Kilda defender Dylan Roberton is taking some time away from the game to contemplate his career. Robertton, 29, collapsed during a game against Geelong in 2018 due to a heart condition. He returned for the 2019 preseason but suffered another incident during a game and sat out the entire season. He came back for the first round of the 2020 season but again missed the rest of the year.
Hawthorn released a statement to announce the passing of club legend Graham Arthur on January 11 at the age of 84. He was a star forward, playing 232 games and kicking 201 goals 1955-1968. He captained the Hawks to their first premiership in 1961.
Researchers at Monash University in Melbourne conducted a study between 2017 and 2019. The study, published in the journal Biomarker Research, carried out baseline blood tests on between 100 and 200 Melbourne University Blacks players in the preseason each year. They then followed up with more blood tests and MRI scans on 28 players who had suffered concussions. Blood samples were then collected at two, six and thirteen day intervals. The researchers found a biomarker protein called Neurofilament light (NfL). Elevated levels of NfL is an indicator for damaged brain cells.
The AFL has released the 2021 schedule but with only confirmed dates and times for the first six rounds. After the entire 2020 season was hugely impacted by COVID-19, the League opted to continue flexible scheduling in 2021 in case of another outbreak in Australia, and to ensure the season would be completed. Exact dates and times for the remaining 17 rounds will be released in four-to-six week blocks with four weeks’ notice. The schedule for Round 7 is expected to be announced at the conclusion of Round 2 on March 28th.
In mid-December during an online forum for members, Collingwood president Eddie McGuire made the shock announcement that he would be stepping down at the end of the 2021 season. It was reported that he was choking back tears when he made the announcement. McGuire said, “I have given everything I have to this position. Now it is time for me to set the platform for the club going forward ... I will ... spend the rest of my time ... setting up a new era ... In conjunction with the change in direction of my media life and the timing of my son’s schooling ending, the time was right and the future strong for our club for me to make this call.” During his time as president, he never once was challenged for the role when he was up for re-election.
The preseason and rookie drafts were held about a week after the National Draft. The rookie list was primarily used to officially relist senior players as rookies. They included Grant Birchall (Brisbane), Sam Reid (GWS Giants), Marty Gleeson (Essendon), Dylan Clarke (Essendon), Roarke Smith (Western Bulldogs), Daniel Venables (West Coast) and Bailey Banfield (Fremantle).