Three AFL greats, including recently dumped TV star Sam Newman, have cast doubt on Nicky Winmar’s iconic stance against racism in which he was captured lifting his jumper and pointing at his dark skin – declaring it was really about the club having ‘guts’.
A week after Newman caused outrage by labelling dead black American George Floyd a ‘piece of s**t’, the controversial commentator has claimed Winmar’s gesture was hijacked by activists.
Photographer Wayne Ludbey captured the iconic moment after a Collingwood versus St Kilda game while working for The Sunday Age newspaper in 1993.
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.
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
Former footy great Don Scott said he could understand why police behaved the way they did against George Floyd. He also believes Nicky Winmar was not standing against racism at the time
Sam Newman (left), Mike Sheahan (centre) and Don Scott chew the fat in their podcast ‘You Cannot Be Serious’
The iconic photograph has since been immortalised by sculptor Louis Laumen in a bronze statue, which was unveiled at Perth Stadium last year.
Newman – who was let go from the Sunday Footy Show after his Floyd comments – chimed in on the subject during his podcast ‘You Cannot Be Serious’ alongside former Hawthorn champ Don Scott and AFL presenter Mike Sheahan.
‘I was at that game at Collingwood. I think there was a misrepresentation here,’ Scott began.
Scott, who was a 300-game veteran for the Hawks in the 60s and 70s, appeared to be annoyed that Winmar had appeared in recent news coverage wearing a George Floyd t-shirt.
Floyd’s death under the knee of a white American police officer inspired the Black Lives Matter movement.
‘Maybe Nicky’s dining out on it now about lifting his jumper because I reported on that game at Collingwood,’ Scott said.
‘St Kilda played Collingwood and my recollection was that St Kilda won and Nicky lifted his jumper saying “That was a gutsy effort. We have got heart”. Now it’s been misconstrued.’
While Sheahan, who hosts Fox Footy’s Open Mike on Tuesday nights, acknowledged only Winmar himself would know what the gesture meant, he believed at the time it was about guts, not racism.
‘He now says that he was pointing to the colour of his skin and making a political statement,’ Sheahan said.
‘(Scott) has some validity. Because at the time lots of people were thinking that he was actually talking about guts.’
‘Have a listen to you dancing around this. You’re treading on egg shells,’ Newman laughed.
Sam Newman branded George Floyd a ‘piece of sh*t’ during a rant on his podcast last week
Nicky Winmar poses with his statue during the Nicky Winmar statue unveiling at Optus Stadium on July 06, 2019 in Perth
Mike Sheahan accepts his Most Outstanding Sports Entertainment Program award during the 12th ASTRA Awards at Carriageworks on March 20, 2014
‘Unlike some of the people I work with, I’m going to consider it before I give an answer,’ Sheehan said.
‘I was at Victoria Park that day … and I reckon I left the ground thinking he was talking about guts.’
The response heard Newman glee with delight
‘Well done. And then it just morphed into all that other by activists,’ Newman said.
While Sheehan questioned the motive behind Winmar’s stance on the day, he said it would go onto be for the greater good.
‘Where we’ve got to because of what Nicky Winmar did, I think is a major step forward because it brings the issue of racism into play,’ he said.
Winmar, who played 251 games of AFL football, donned the Floyd t-shirt and dropped to his knee to support the Black Lives Matter movement during a segment on the Yokayi Footy show earlier this month.
‘You see the heartaches and hurts of the people around the world at the moment,’ Winmar said.
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
George Floyd died under the knee of a Minneapolis cop. His death saw the beginning of the Black Lives Matter movement, which has gone global
George Floyd was a 46-year-old black man who was killed by police in Minneapolis, Minnesota during an arrest for allegedly using a counterfeit bill
‘It’s gotta be stopped, and we’ve gotta make our point across to people. Our next generation, what are they going to think of this?
‘To our mob back home in Australia….we see that happening, it’s pretty sad, and it’s got to be stopped as well.’
Newman’s latest controversial discussion took place within the same podcast that he claimed to have received death threats and was warned his family would be ‘raped by felons’ following his comments a week earlier.
Newman was dumped from Channel 9 days after his attack on Floyd hit the mainstream press.
‘You know who George Floyd is? He has been in jail five times, he held up a pregnant black woman with a knife, he’s a drug addict, he’s a crack head and he’s a porn star,’ Newman said in his previous podcast.
George Floyd died after an arrest on May 25 in which a police officer knelt on his neck for eight minutes, during which Floyd was complaining that he could not breathe.
Records showed Floyd had been arrested nine times for mostly drug and theft offences, and served several short prison sentences.
Newman’s initial rant came out in defence of an earlier tweet that criticised AFL footballers for kneeling before the Collingwood versus Richmond clash.
Former AFL footballer Don Scott is causing controversy on a podcast he does with Sam Newman and Mike Sheahan
Pictured: Players take a knee to support the Black Lives Matter movement before the 2020 AFL Round 02 match between the Collingwood Magpies and the Richmond Tigers at the Melbourne Cricket Ground last Thursday
The Black Lives Matter movement has gained momentum across the globe following the death of black man George Floyd, who died in Minneapolis police custody last month
Newman had only recently returned to television on the Sunday Footy Show when he claimed the players had not knelt in a stance against racism, but against police brutality.
‘George Floyd, who is a piece of sh*t incidentally,’ he began before his co-hosts attempted to intervene.
Newman went onto clarify that he was totally against the way Floyd had been treated by police.
‘And it should never have happened, but I’m just telling you who George Floyd is and they’ve made a monument to him and he’s a piece of sh*t,’ he said at the time.
Scott backed Newman.
‘He should not have been handled in the way he was, but I can understand – to a degree – why the police were doing it,’ he said.
Scott’s response appeared to shock even Newman.
‘No Don, you can’t understand that,’ Newman said.
‘It’s inexcusable … the whole of the American nation … was absolutely at one saying this is a disgrace and it was. No matter what his reputation or who he is.
The 74-year-old said the ‘mutual decision’ to leave Channel 9 ‘affects me not one iota… I don’t need to be on television.’
‘Do you think at this stage of my life, having been on the television for over 30 years, do you think I want to put myself through the things that have been said about me … that they hope I die, hope I’m murdered, hope I’m shot, hope my grandchildren get raped by felons?’ Newman said.
‘Do you think I want to put myself through that for the sake of saying a very accurate statement about a man who shouldn’t have been killed, but is a very ordinary person?
Newman said he says ‘controversial things’ in order to make his podcast a success.
‘I’ve done it on the television because I tried to make that a success. You know who I am away from this,’ he said.