Uncomfortable truth about Ben Cousins’ appearance at Brownlow Medal red carpet
Ben Cousins made a glamorous return to the AFL scene on Sunday but it glossed over an important truth that can’t be forgotten.
While the footy world fawned over Ben Cousins’ glamorous return to the AFL scene this week, an uncomfortable truth remains.
Cousins, clean-shaven and wearing a stylish suit, walked the red carpet at Sunday night’s Brownlow Medal and the overwhelming reaction from footy fans was how great it was to see the premiership-winning captain looking so good.
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The 43-year-old’s life has been badly affected by drug addiction and he has spent time in prison for stalking his ex-partner Maylea Tinecheff — the mother of the pair’s two children.
But this was Cousins as we haven’t seen him in years and the reaction on social media was largely positive. Legendary AFL coach Kevin Sheedy tweeted: “Great to hear an absolute champion of our great game Ben Cousins is alive and well and is attending this year’s Brownlow Night and back in the AFL arena where he belongs.”
Port Adelaide great Kane Cornes told SEN radio catching up with Cousins and seeing him doing so well was the “highlight” of his night.
But speaking on Tuesday night’s episode of The Back Page, football presenter Tara Rushton said we couldn’t forget Cousins’ past behaviour as the media romanticised his return. She added it was important not to ignore the experiences of his former partner as AFL fans were quick to voice their joy at seeing the 2005 Brownlow Medallist doing so well.
“I guess the thing that’s really interesting is it ended up being one of the biggest headlines from the night, that Ben Cousins walked the red carpet,” Rushton said on Fox Sports.
“I mean, it is great to see someone get their life back on the straight and narrow, you would hope. He’s had a long battle with mental demons, drug abuse, he’s been in jail. The media really fed into this story.
“I just worry sometimes that we can romanticise the return and forget about … the stalking charges that he had against him. I’m just thinking from the perspective of his partner and the kids that he has.
“So, first and foremost, mental health and to be fighting those battles, that’s a good thing — but I think we in the media really tried to romanticise that return and that homecoming as such.”
Western Bulldogs champion Brad Johnson said all eyes would now be on what Cousins does next and if he can keep his life on track after his well-documented issues.
“I agree with Tara. He looked good, it’s the best that we’ve all seen Ben Cousins in a number of years now so I think it goes beyond this, and I think that’s where Tara is leaning towards as well,” Johnson told The Back Page.
“Yes, we enjoyed the moment of seeing him back I suppose, but it’s what’s next. That’s the biggest challenge for anyone in this position let alone a Ben Cousins who has that spotlight on him continually.
“It’s what happens over the next days, the next weeks, the next months, the next years for Ben Cousins.”
Since his release from prison, Cousins has reportedly been working in construction and made a return to Aussie rules earlier this year, playing for the Queens Park Bulldogs in a local Perth football league.
Cousins said on Sunday he was “absolutely” excited to be at the Brownlow and hinted at the work he has done to get his life back on track.
“A little bit behind the scenes, but that’s part of it,” he said. “You know, we find ourselves in different situations along the way. So just great to be here tonight.”