Patrick Dangerfield fronted the media on Tuesday. This was not unusual. A quick check of emails from the Geelong Football Club show that Dangerfield has fronted five formal press conferences since the Cats departed Victoria in early July, and that's just the tip of the iceberg.
Dangerfield has done countless more interviews for television, radio and print outlets this season – including one with this masthead only last week – and plenty for the club's own website. As president of the AFL Players' Association, he has shouldered an enormous public load in a year of unprecedented workplace unrest. Dangerfield is second-favourite to win the Norm Smith Medal at the Gabba on Saturday night. The man ahead of him on the line of betting is Dustin Martin.
Patrick Dangerfield and Dustin Martin are both stars on the field but take very different approaches off it.Credit:Getty Images
As footballers, Martin and Dangerfield are comparable. Both powerful, explosive beasts, they can be both centre clearance machines and deep forward destroyers. They are both Brownlow medallists and combined have won six AFL best and fairests awards, two Norm Smith Medals and been in the All-Australian team 12 times. The prospect they could go head-to-head this weekend, even briefly, is tantalising.
But in terms of their public presentation, the pair are as different as their haircuts, from Dangerfield's slightly schoolboy effort with a part to Martin's famed mohawk varieties.
Recalling a Martin press conference is like trying to remember him playing a poor final. They have been few and far between. Generally Martin's only mainstream media appearances in recent years have come when he's won an award and has essentially been mandated to speak. Outside of that, it's pretty much zilch, especially since the ill-fated March 2017 press conference in which Martin wanted to promote a Sherrin with former Tigers assistant Mark Williams but wouldn't answer questions about his contract situation.
Martin rarely makes media appearances outside of compulsory post-award press conferences.Credit:Justin Ridler
Journalists barely even bother requesting to speak to him anymore. Last year, Richmond sent out an email on the Saturday following the Tigers' preliminary final win over Geelong saying he was due to join his close mate and captain Trent Cotchin for a joint appearance two days later. But then on the day of the scheduled press conference, Martin pulled the pin and was replaced by Tom Lynch.
So why the discrepancy? A large part of it comes down to personality. Dangerfield is naturally gregarious and has a healthy sense of theatre, even to the extent he has been accused of exaggerating injuries. In classic Dangerfield style, his response in 2017 to that claim from football's provocateur-in-chief Kane Cornes was to wear fake bandages to a press conference. Dangerfield has been comfortable putting his wife Mardi and children George and Felicity into the public spotlight. Hell, they even enlisted master voiceover man Craig Willis to help make the announcement that Mardi was expecting. Dangerfield also hosts a fishing and outdoor adventure radio show.
Meanwhile, Martin is naturally much shyer and scarred by some negative headlines in the past. He has also had to deal with the coverage of his father’s deportation from Australia and the ensuing saga.
Dangerfield is managed by veteran AFL player agent Paul Connors, part of Connors' enormous stable, which features many of the stars of the game. Martin, conversely, is taken care of by manager Ralph Carr, who has only a handful of footballers – including emerging Tigers gun Shai Bolton – and for whom the music industry takes up the majority of his business.
Perhaps this explains the distinction, with Carr seeming to be guided by the scarcity principle when it comes to steering Martin and his corporate interests, which have extended to lucrative deals with companies such as Bonds and Jeep.
Dangerfield makes many more appearances in the media than Martin.Credit:Getty Images
"We seriously started to plan Dustin's career at an early age – having been a manager [not an agent] for 20 years plus put me in the best position to manage Australia's David Beckham," Carr said on Tuesday.
"His career from the management side was planned from day one, using marketing skills from business and entertainment, and not taking the conventional approach. After all football for the punters is entertainment.
"Dustin is special on and off the ground and understands our plans and strategies as managers … and is involved and participates in decisions and direction."
Little is known about Martin's private life in Melbourne, which adds to the mystique. It is part of the reason tongues were wagging last year when Martin showed up on Serena Williams’ social media page, and why his severing of ties last year with Puma was deemed newsworthy.
Whatever you make of their off-field status though, ultimately it is no good if they can't get it done on the park. Here, Martin and Dangerfield stand apart from most of the pack.
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