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Monday, August 6, 2018

Andrew Gaff hit: Spare me the ‘good character’ arguments

It’s all well and good for people to say an incident is out of character.
But once you commit the incident, it becomes part of your story, and like it or not your good character will mean nothing to the victim, their family, their teammates and their friends.
There are no excuses for what Andrew Gaff did to Andrew Brayshaw in the western derby on Sunday.
The justifications flying on social media and on talkback this morning just make you shake your head. Being body-checked at stoppages is not an excuse. Aiming at the chest is not an excuse.
Gaff threw the punch, an 18-year-old had to undergo surgery overnight and won’t eat solids for four weeks, and now both teams are set to be without a key player for the rest of the year.
It’s the most extraordinary mistake of Gaff’s career, and perhaps his life, but while his clean record on and off the field may help lessen his penalty slightly, it still doesn’t count for as much as some people would like to think.
The entire incident was ugly. First the punch, then the reaction of the crowd - who, granted, did not see a replay on the big screen, but the corporates booing Ross Lyon in the press conference don’t have that excuse - then the footage and images of Brayshaw’s mangled mouth, Gaff on the bench, the on-field scraps, and particularly the aftermath and barbs between the supported groups.
Anyone who’s played football at any level has likely seen this kind of thing happen to teammates before.
The instant reaction is often the wrong one, more violence, but once that’s passed you want the book thrown at the perpetrator. You don’t know their history, you don’t know whether they’re a ‘good bloke’ and to be honest, you don’t care.
And I can say firsthand that you rarely forgive and certainly never forget.
Good people make bad decisions every day. Andrew Gaff is to be commended for fronting up and apologising publicly after the game, and was clearly shocked by his own actions. He even looked uncomfortable dropping the ‘character’ line into his post-game interview.
But reputation is shaped by action, and a moment of madness means Gaff has put a black spot on his.
He’ll have to live with what he did. He’ll have to take his whack. He’ll have to front up to Brayshaw’s brother Hamish at training today. And character arguments won’t help any of that.