How do you solve a problem like Todd Carney?

Filed in NRL by on June 30, 2014

Todd Carney – where do I even begin?

Just over 24 hours after the Cronulla Sharks had posted just their third victory over the year over the Brisbane Broncos, Todd Carney decided it would be clever to get a mate to take a photo of him attempting to urinate in his own mouth.

With friends like that, who needs enemies?

Today, the Cronulla Sharks sacked Carney and have cancelled his reported $650,000 per year contract.  In their statement, the Sharks said “we are committed to building a successful club, a club with strong values and a club which sets and respects high standards in all aspects of its operations and activities. When Todd was first signed to the Sharks he was made well aware of his responsibilities both on and off the field, to himself, the club and to the game in general, however the photograph that appeared last night on social media does not meet the values and standards the club is looking to uphold and take into the future.”

Bravo, Cronulla, bravo.

There is plenty of debate about this issue and I thought I would just make a couple of comments.

The first debate is around whether the punishment is too harsh considering the punishment which has been handed out to other players over the years. For example, many out there are making comments like why should the Sharks terminate Carney’s NRL contract when players like Robert Lui are still running around. For those, unaware, Lui was the player who assaulted his pregnant girlfriend following Mad Monday celebrations.

I understand the frustration. Every time I see Lui running around in a Women in League jersey I feel sick to my stomach. However, despite Lui and Carney’s actions not even being comparable, in order to be taken seriously as a code, the NRL needs to look forward, not backward.

This is Carney’s third club. He was sacked by Canberra in 2008 after he apparently urinated on a patron’s head at a Canberra nightclub.  The next club he went to was the Roosters where he was sacked for breaking a club-issued alcohol ban. Now, following another alcohol fuelled incident, Carney has once again brought his club and the game into disrepute and its not good enough anymore.

This all comes back to the age old question of whether we want footballers or role models.

This is not the first issue regarding player behaviour which the NRL has had to deal with this year and it raises the question of what we expect from the men who play NRL in Australia.

On the one hand is the view that winning is everything. What flows from this idea is that the men selected to play for each team every week should be judged solely on their ability to play and other factors should not be considered.

It will be interesting to see what happens with Carney.

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