Josh, Josh, Josh….
You know, Canberra Raiders fans don’t ask for much from you. They kinda know what the deal by now.
Basically, you’re a good fullback, but every time you get tackled you get up slower than Apollo Creed in Rocky II. You’re more injury prone than Mr Glass from Unbreakable. Hell, you missed a game with a boil!
So today you and Blake Ferguson got stood down for breaking the Canberra Raiders booze ban, a booze ban that I myself called ridiculous. For most Raiders players, they don’t need a booze ban, they just need a new coach. However, some Raiders players have form when it comes to issues with alcohol.
Yes, I’m talking about you.
Now, had you copped your suspension from first grade on the chin, few would have paid too much attention. After all, it isn’t exactly shocking news that you aren’t turning out for the Raiders, you spend more time on the sidelines than you coach does!
No, instead of just copping it sweet, you had to go and Tweet this:
“I’m remorseful for my actions. And anyone who knows me personally would know that. For all you know it alls who have your opinions..”
“They are unwanted and mean jack shit to me. Keep your shit comments to yourself. Because you have no idea what its like to be a sportsperson”.
Now, granted, you deleted the second Tweet because the chances are someone at the Raiders got on the phone and once again had to tell you to modify your behaviour, something they have become used to having to do these days. Still, to play the old “You’re only a fan” card to a supporter base that ultimately pays your salary was pretty stupid.
Sure, most people don’t earn $500,000 to play a few games every year for the Canberra Raiders, but setting yourself up as some sort of pariah (Google it!) because you’re a professional football player will get you off side with your fan base quicker than Sonny Bill Williams changes his mind on what career path he wants to take after signing a new contract!
Some players might get a pass, putting it all down to stress or a brain fart. The problem is Josh that, you have form.
You recently faced court after being caught doing 45kmh over the speed limit while having a suspended licence. You claimed you didn’t know your licence was suspended at the time.
The thing is, in 2010 you pleaded guilty to driving recklessly with a suspended licence, so surely, you knew how the licencing system works, if not the road rules!
Between the off field issues, the fact you take up a huge chunk of your teams salary cap, the fact that you are injury prone and you like holding a gun to the clubs head every time you’re off contract, have set yourself up as the least liked person in Canberra that hasn’t got red hair!
You see Josh, you earn a lot of money to occasionally play a sport that you love. For the average punter who works their arse off to earn enough to live off, you have a pretty good life. Most people would swap their working situation for yours in a heartbeat.
So after being suspended by the club, again, for not being able to keep away from booze, and then telling people “you have no idea what its like to be a sportsperson”, you come off as looking like an out of touch whinger who simply attacks people that try to make him see sense.
Maybe you have been surrounded by “yes men” for too long. There is no doubt you have talent, and maybe after years of being told “Its OK, don’t worry about anything else, just play football son” it has made you lose all touch with reality.
If most people went out and acted like you did, they would lose their jobs and end up in jail. They certainly would have their boss turn up to court with them!
So Josh, next time you think about attacking people that are simply disappointed in your behaviour, take a deep breath and realize that maybe, just maybe, you are accountable to fans. That the salary that gets deposited into your bank account every month is an incredible amount of compensation to receive to not only play football, but to also try to carry yourself in a way that makes your club and its fans proud of you.
Being a professional sportsman isn’t a burden Josh. It is actually a dream job.
If you don’t think so, thats OK, you don’t have to do it. No one is forcing you to play football. Just walk into work tomorrow, sit down with your boss and tell him that you’re going to give up the life of a professional sportsmen for a more simple life of say, a laborer, because with your record and those next tats, you can’t expect to aim to high.
Hell, this time next week you could be throwing bricks, earning a much more reasonable wage and living a life of complete anonymity. That is always an option for you Josh, and you should never, ever forget that.
So this weekend you will once again sit on the sidelines and watch your team mates run around and trying to win a game without you. I know its not a stretch, you’re used to it by now.
As you’re watching the match from the side lines, why don’t you have a look around you at the people that have paid to get into the game. Sure, they aren’t sportsmen, but they took the time and effort to turn up to watch the team they love play the game.
Those people were doing this before you arrived, and they will be doing it long after you have left the sport to embark on the life of a former sportsman. They will remember you though Josh, and what you have to ask yourself is, what memories will you leave them with?
You see, in your head, I know you have an image of yourself. The problem is, we are all defined by our actions, and lets face it, for the great games you have played for the Raiders, there are plenty of negative things you have done off the field as well.
Willie Mason can support you all he likes on Twitter, but ask him, for the incredible career he has had, what is it like to be widely regarded as “trouble” and to be disliked by the vast majority of people who know you for doing one thing, playing football.
Willie Mason won a Premiership and was the man of the match in a Grand Final. He played numerous games for New South Wales and was at one time a walk up start to play for Australia. Off the field, Willie never actually has been in that much trouble at all, in fact, the worst he ever really did was have a piss in public.
You ask him though, what happens when the fans turn on you. What is it like to have a great body of work, and having made a lot of money doing something you love, and then one day you’re on the outside looking in, begging for a run where ever you can get it because you want one last chance to try and change negative attitudes people have about you.
Compared to you, Willie Mason is an angel!
One day, this will all be over Josh. I know you’re a young bloke, and right now, you are living the dream. One day though, and it could be sooner than you think, this will all be over.
One day they will be cheering your name from the stands. The next…you’re just Josh. Unemployed, looking for work, looking for a new direction in life, and struggling to come to terms with a lack of discipline, structure and with a bank balance that will quickly drain away as you struggle to cut back from your previous lifestyle.
When that happens, the one currency you will have is your reputation. The reputation you built during your football career.
If you manage it well, you can stay involved, and you can use that reputation to build yourself a tidy career after football. However, if your reputation is mud, things will be a lot harder.
So this weekend while you are watching your mates play, ask yourself, what does the future hold for Josh Dugan. It’s easy to dream big, but look at your past, look at where you find yourself now, and ask yourself where you want to be when this is all over.
Oh and Josh, don’t bag the fans. After all, they are the ones that pay good money for you to be a professional sportsman.
A well known Rugby League writer, League Freak has established a reputation among supporters of the game for his fearless commentary and unmatched insight. With a reach that spans both sides of the globe, League Freak has produced an independent network that allows him to distribute content to his many thousands of followers. He is the owner and main author of LeagueFreak.com