AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan insists his frustrations with the AFL appeals board has nothing to do with Patrick Cripps' Brownlow Medal win.
Cripps took out thE AFL's best and fairest honour by a single vote over Brisbane's Lachie Neale, courtesy of his best on ground performance in round 23 which unfortunately coincided with Carlton's finals hopes being doomed by Collingwood.
His win was a controversial one though, owing to an incident against the Lions back in round round 21, in which Cripps was eventually cleared of a rough conduct charge against Callum Ah Chee following a marathon four and a half hour hearing at the AFL appeals board.
Cripps would have of course been ineligible to win the Brownlow Medal had his suspension stood.
The Blues skipper initially received a two-match ban for the bump, which was upheld at the AFL tribunal, before finally being overturned by the appeals board.
In an interview in the grand final AFL Record that was published the day after the Brownlow Medal ceremony but recorded two weeks ago, McLachlan reiterated his frustration with the appeals process.
Following Cripps' Brownlow Medal win on Sunday night, McLachlan was called out for the remarks with some fans viewing it as a direct attack on the Carlton captain.
However, the AFL boss said his grievances have nothing to do with Cripps, who he insisted was a "worthy and popular winner" of the Brownlow Medal.
“I am not sure I can remember a more worthy and popular winner than Patrick Cripps,” McLachlan said.
“Not one part of that diminishes his win last night. He is tough, he is brave. Look at that game in round 23 against Collingwood.
“I haven’t seen a player want to get the ball more. He is an incredible, worthy Brownlow Medal winner.
“Anything related to the appeals process is separate. You know what I thought of the decision. I thought it was confusing at best.
“It is a comment on the appeals board’s decision and that decision has nothing to do with Patrick Cripps.
“He is entirely eligible, he was cleared and he’s a fabulous footballer, person and worthy Brownlow Medallist.”
AFL boss wants appeals process looked at
McLachlan's previous frustrations about the appeals board centre around the notion it is inadvertently undermining the league's crackdown on contact with the head in the game.
“People are aware I was very agitated by that (Appeals Board) decision,” McLachlan said.
“It made no sense to me in any way and it is frustrating to have a legal view about due process or procedural fairness - a complete nonsense - really affect a clear mandate to protect the head.
“We confused our supporters and set ourselves back and that really frustrates me.
“When you can have something that is so important, which is protecting the head, and a clear statement from the MRO and backed up by the Tribunal, and then the player getting off because of a legal technicality and nobody really understanding what the hell happened, I find that challenging.
“So, I have asked the guys to review the system and we will see where that lands.”
Cripps played a straight bat when asked about what McLachlan had said about his successful appeal.
“He called my name for the last three votes, so I’ll just leave it at that," he quipped on Monday afternoon.
The Blues captain did say that the man he pipped for the Brownlow Medal - Lions star Neale - was among the first to congratulate him on the triumph.
"He said 'welcome to the club," Cripps said of Neale, who won the count in 2020.
"I was hoping for a tie to be honest - I'm good mates with Lachie so that would have been awesome.
"But he said he was happy for me and said he'd come and give me a big hug - he's a ripper."
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