Is Gaff a thug?
I'm not a West Coast Eagles supporter, and I don't really watch much football beyond Collingwood games these days, so I don't really have any strong emotional or preconceived reaction to the incident that happened over the weekend
For those that don't know what I'm talking about, here's the vision:
Now it is obvious that there will be a hefty suspension to come out of this.
But all the talk of 12 week suspensions, criminal charges, etc etc are absurd.
It was obviously an extreme incident, especially given the nature of the the injury that Andrew Bradshaw sustained.
But let's break it down for a minute - Did he mean it?
I don't think so.
He isn't a player with a reputation to play "on the edge" so to speak. He is one of the premier midfielders in the competition and was an outside chance for the Brownlow medal this year.
He obviously meant to punch to some degree, but the AFL has almost encouraged that kind of behavior by not punishing players for "jumper punches" to the chest. In this case I think he punched a little higher than intended, and Bradshaw's face was a little lower than it otherwise might have been, and the result was there for all to see.
This isn't a call for him to not be suspended. I think 6 weeks is about right, but no doubt he'll get 7 to ensure he doesn't return this season. The media circus that has surrounded this incident will ensure that. The AFL will want this issue put to bed for the rest of the year.
And it is likely that he's played his last game for West Coast as an uncontracted free agent that was supposedly already keen to come home to Victoria.
Overall this is a big blow to West Coast's season. With Naitanui out for the season, now Gaff, and Kennedy's injury struggles, it is hard to see anybody winning a flag without their best 3 players.
Collingwood is also down due to injuries, so there doesn't seem to be much threat to Richmond's premiership defence. They have been very lucky in that regard. I think GWS is most likely to threaten them.