Kane Cornes has declared "it's time" Ben Cousins was inducted into the AFL Hall of Fame amid the former Brownlow Medallist's fall from grace and subsequent redemption. The former West Coast Eagles captain has been eligible for the league's Hall of Fame since 2013, but his chequered history and off-field behaviour has worked against him.
The 45-year-old is attempting to get his life back on track after a tumultuous decade since his retirement from AFL in 2010. He has battled a well-documented drug addiction and spent time behind bars.
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But according to Port Adelaide 300-gamer Cornes, Cousins has done enough in the last few years to show that he's put that behind him. “It’s time," Cornes said on SEN radio on Monday. "There are others in the Hall of Fame who have had chequered history off the field and it’s time." Journalist Sam Edmund said he agreed whole-heartedly with Cornes in regards to Cousins.
Speaking last year, AFL great Glen Jakovich expressed his hope that league bosses would change their minds on Cousins. “I spoke to him yesterday about a few things. The biggest question was whether he could reintegrate back into community life, hold down a normal job and be a normal contributor to society,” Jakovich told the Herald Sun.
“West Coast has just had a Hall of Fame event which he didn’t make. They wanted to wait another 12 months. So if not this year then next year from an AFL perspective.
“He has had a bloody good 18 months. He works for Channel 7, he works for a mining company and he goes to a lot of mining sites and speaks to them and basically says don’t end up like me. His biggest commitment is to his kids. He has gone from no access to good access and has had to tick boxes with the authorities. So that is a really big tick for ‘Cuz’.”
Fans and pundits have been divided over Cousins' place in the game for years. And on Monday it was no different after Cornes' comments.
Ben Cousins ✅
Wayne Carey ✅
Life is full of challanges
a simple cycle
2 of the very best
— 🌲👨⚕️ (@Nf_Treedoc) January 15, 2024
It would be a redeeming moment for him and a healing moment for the club and it’s supporters.
— 🪦Tommy (@TommyCarullo) January 15, 2024
For me he's in the Ablett catergory.
Never to happen.
— Chris (@thecuttysark76) January 15, 2024
The impact his recovery has had on people struggling with addiction can't be underestimated.
He should be in for his footy alone, but his very public fall and recovery inspired countless people.
Put him in. Please
— SèánoSerious (@MovedOnNotice) January 15, 2024
Hall of fame! R u joking? Continually put the game into disrepute. Played football will addicted to drugs. Great section and really setting a good example for the younger generation. Disgraceful this is even considered.
— redfoxpunk (@redfoxpunk) January 15, 2024
Ben Cousins previously overlooked for AFL Hall of Fame
The Hall of Fame committee looks at a number of criteria when indicting past players into the Hall. Those include integrity, sportsmanship and character, which Cousins hasn't exactly met. Gary Ablett Sr - another controversial figure - had to wait a number of years before he was finally inducted in 2005, while Wayne Carey was overlooked twice before getting his nod in 2010.
Cousins was one of the AFL's top midfielders during his prime and played a crucial role in West Coast's premiership triumph in 2006. He played 238 games for the Eagles, but off-field troubles cost him the captaincy in early 2006 and he was sacked by the club after the 2007 season.
He returned to the AFL in 2009 and played 32 games for Richmond before he retired at the end of 2010. His life then spiralled out of control as he battled drug addiction, and he was sent to prison after being convicted of stalking his ex-partner.
But he seems to be getting back on track in the last two years, and attended his first Brownlow Medal ceremony in Melbourne since 2005 last year alongside his sister Melanie. When asked how he's been going, the 45-year-old said: "Really well actually. Life’s good. And super stoked to be in Melbourne. I really enjoyed my time here, but particularly grand final week. It’s an amazing time of the year.
"It’s been a long road, it really has. I wish it hadn’t needed to run its course like it did, but life’s great at the moment. When you strip everything back and assess your life, for anybody, it really is in its simplest form, goes back to what makes you happy and for a long time I wasn’t. But, you know, I very much am these days.”
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