AFL presenter Mike Sheahan has sensationally quit a controversial podcast he hosted with former AFL greats Sam Newman and Don Scott over a furore involving Nicky Winmar.
The men last week caused outrage when they suggested an iconic image of 1993 image of the former Saints champion was not a stance about racism, but a show of ‘guts’.
On Tuesday, Newman and Scott apologised for the hurt they had caused indigenous players and Winmar, who last week began legal proceedings against the three alongside photographer Wayne Ludbey.
Mike Sheahan accepts his Most Outstanding Sports Entertainment Program award during the 12th ASTRA Awards at Carriageworks on March 20, 2014
Nicky Winmar lifts his shirt to a feral Collingwood crowd in 1993 after the Saints won at Victoria Park. The image has become iconic in the move against racism in sport
Sam Newman (left), Mike Sheahan (centre) and Don Scott chew the fat in their podcast ‘You Cannot Be Serious’
Newman said they had only attempted to discuss the varying points of view on Winmar’s iconic stance, which would go onto become a powerful stance against racism in the years that followed.
‘We meant in no way to cause any offence to Winmar and his team and now, at this stage, there are lawyers and attorneys and QCs involved standing like the O.K Corral at 10 paces waiting to see what happens next,’ Newman said.
Newman said the team hoped to meet with Winmar later this week to sort the matter out.
‘Because we have no ulterior motive in trying to cause any offence at all,’ Newman said. ‘It was a light-hearted conversation we thought which he has taken exception to.’
Ludbey had captured the iconic moment after a Collingwood versus St Kilda game while working for The Sunday Age newspaper.
In the image, the indigenous player is seen pointing at his skin before a rabid Victoria Park crowd following a hard-fought win against the Magpies on their home soil.
A furious Ludbey told Daily Mail Australia the pair had engaged Leon Zwier of Arnold Bloch Leibler lawyers to bring unspecified action against Newman, Scott and Sheahan.
On Tuesday, Newman continued to defend his recent comments, which have included calling dead black American George Floyd a ‘piece of s**t’.
Newman said if Australians couldn’t openly discuss important matters of race they may as well revert to discussing stories about cats.
‘I get marginalised and cancel-cultured because I speak about it … I have no problem with what I say cos it’s not based on race per se,’ Newman said.
‘And yet you have the deputy health minister (Annaliese) van Diemen saying coronavirus is something akin to Captain Cook arriving. That is more racist than anything anyone has ever said, but she doesn’t get cancel-cultured.’
Sheahan, who hosts Fox Footy’s Open Mike on Tuesday nights, arrived midway through Newman’s rant and dropped a bombshell.
‘I’m not as accustomed as you to the fallout and the public scrutiny so it’s shaken me a bit,’ Sheahan said.
Last week, Sheahan said he believed at the time Winmar’s gesture was about guts, not racism.
On Tuesday’s podcast ‘You Cannot Be Serious’, Sheahan acknowledged his comments had hurt a lot of people in the AFL football community.
Former Swans champ Adam Goodes told Mike Sheahan he would cross the road if he saw him on the street
Former St Kilda Saints player and Western Australian-born Noongar man, Nicky Winmar (right) speaks with photographer Wayne Ludbey before the unveiling of his statue at Optus Stadium in Perth last year
AFL great Nicky Winmar is seeking legal action against Mike Sheahan, Sam Newman and Don Scott
‘It’s shaken me a bit … And I think the thing that has worried me most is I definitely did hurt some people who I regard as football friends – indigenous people, indigenous players who I have a healthy relationship with, and they were hurt and angry ‘ he said.
Sheahan revealed Adam Goodes had called him over the past week to express his disappointment in Sheahan’s comments.
The Goodes ‘booing saga’ sparked a national debate about racism in Australia and became the subject of two documentary films about the former AFL champion.
Sheahan said Goodes was a ‘little angry’ about what he had said as was former Swan Michael O’Loughlin, who had also contacted him.
‘He was the same. He said it won’t affect our friendship but he said the brothers were disappointed with you,’ Sheahan said.
An emotional Sheahan went onto apologise to his indigenous friends for his comments.
‘I am sorry for the pain that I’ve caused you guys,’ he said.
Sheahan said while Goodes was composed, he was ‘certainly decisive’.
‘He said a couple of things that really cut deeply and I thought … you don’t know what these things mean to people until you’re on the receiving end of it,’ Sheahan said.
Goodes had told Sheahan if he saw him on the street he would cross the road to avoid him.
‘That really cut me,’ Sheahan said.
The veteran sports writer said he told Newman he would quit the day Daily Mail Australia broke the news report last Wednesday about the Winmar discussion.
Photographer Wayne Ludbey poses with Nicky Winmar during the Nicky Winmar statue unveiling at Optus Stadium in Perth last year
The 1993 news article that appeared in the Sunday Age which recorded Wayne Ludbey’s version of events at the time
AFL presenter Mike Sheahan has sensationally quit a controversial podcast. He is pictured with his daughter Kate
Sheahan further revealed he had dumped Newman from a planned appearance on his own Fox Footy program.
‘I think Fox don’t think it’s palatable to do it at the moment,’ Sheahan said.
Sheahan said he did not want to be the centre of attention for ‘negative fallout’.
In a bizarre exchange, Scott said he had been subjected to racial abuse while in America, where some African Americans told him to ‘p*** off honkey’.
The comment prompted Newman to attempt to educate the Hawks veteran about the difference between being part of the white majority.
Last week, Scott – a 300-game veteran for the Hawks in the 60s and 70s – threw his co-hosts into hot water when he claimed Winmar had ‘dined out’ on Ludbey’s image, which he claimed had been misrepresented in the years that followed.
Ludbey told Daily Mail Australia he was shocked, disillusioned and angry over the discussion.
He said he had never deviated from his version of events on that day at Victoria Park in 1993, which was reported the following day in the Sunday Age.
‘I’ve never deviated from the line once,’ Ludbey said.
‘What I find extraordinary is that 27 years after the act Nicky Winmar is still having to respond to three stooges sitting up in the stalls pelting him about his race, his heritage and him as a person.’
Ludbey claimed the trio knew what they were doing when they brought the subject of Winmar up.
‘It’s a calculated act on their part to attack a black man who they think can’t fight back,’ he said.
The award winning photographer took special offence to the comments made by his former Herald Sun colleague Sheahan.
Sam Newman branded George Floyd a ‘piece of sh*t’ during a rant on his podcast
Nicky Winmar dropped to his knee while paying his respects to the Black Lives Matter movement during a recent tv appearance. He was wearing a George Floyd T-shirt
Former footy great Don Scott said he believed Nicky Winmar was not standing against racism at the time
‘Will the real Mike Sheahan please stand up. The name of the media centre at AFL HQ – The Mike Sheahan Media Centre – that name needs to be seriously reviewed,’ Ludbey said.
‘I’ll leave you with a last line. Game on.’
Ludbey has always maintained Winmar pointed at his skin and said ‘I’m black and proud to be black’.
He had followed Winmar with his camera as he ran over to his fellow indigenous team mate Gilbert McAdam.
Ludbey said Winmar repeated the phrase again and again: ‘I’m black and I’m proud to be black’.