Connor McKenna criticized the treatment by the Melbourne AFL media after being diagnosed with Coronavirus

Connor McKenna criticized the treatment by the Melbourne AFL media after being diagnosed with Coronavirus

Connor McKenna has called on the NFL to consider sanctioning media outlets in Melbourne who speak in an inaccurate or unethical manner after being in the spotlight after a positive coronavirus test in June.

McKenna said there should be “repercussions” and described the behavior of some sections of football media as “disgraceful.”

The Irishman, who has played 79 games for Essendon, retires immediately and returns home after struggling with homesickness for most of this year.

“No matter what job you have in life, there are always repercussions, but the way the media works in Melbourne doesn’t seem to be there,” McKenna said.

“There is just a free option for everyone to say whatever they want.

“If there are no repercussions, they will keep doing it and treat the players like a piece of meat.

“If there are no repercussions, why would they change? I think it’s something the NFL should look at.”

McKenna said the desire to be the first to own the story has replaced accurate reporting.

“It is not running and there are no real consequences for people,” he said.

“They are willing to say whatever they want so that they are the first person to say it, rather than being right. I definitely think they should be held accountable.”

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The analysis of blowing the nose is confusing

McKenna was particularly upset about using footage of him removing his nose during training, which some media outlets have attempted to medically assess.

“They are not specialists in that, so I don’t understand why they are talking about it,” he said.

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“Talk about what you know. If you don’t know anything, don’t talk about it.”

The talented defender was surprised by the lack of reporting on his physical condition.

“They put soccer in the soccer league in front of me. Regardless of who they are, they should never be treated that way … One of the things I will never miss in Australia is the majority of the NFL media. I think it’s cruel and negative and it doesn’t do that.” You have to take into account how people might deal with it. “

McKenna said he feared for the mental health of the young players, who at times faced intense scrutiny without any error on their part.

A football player wearing a beanie sits on the ground during training with hands touching his feet.
McKenna’s diagnosis of COVID-19 took the league by storm – and he was stuck in the middle of it.(AAP: Michael Dodge)

“It’s okay for me because I don’t care what most of the media think about me, but if someone else is in this situation it might affect him in a very bad way,” he said.

The way the media behaved after two or three days [the positive test] Was disgraceful. “

The center did not help

The 24-year-old also opened up on his decision to retire and admitted that this year’s season, away from Melbourne, contributed to his feeling it was time to get home.

The former Gaelic footballer has always been vocal about his battle with homesickness, saying the position made it worse.

Conor McKenna is training with teammates Essendon Bombers AFL.
McKenna says he felt guilty for taking a spot on the team when his heart wasn’t on it.(AAP: Scott Barbour)

“When I return to Melbourne, I enjoy playing football but also my time away from football,” he said.

“I always enjoyed meeting Irish friends on a Saturday night, just to give me that feeling of being home.”

McKenna began seriously considering ending his NFL career this season about six weeks ago, “because I didn’t feel like I wanted to play the NFL”.

He tried to motivate himself by changing his position, from defender to striker, but was unsuccessful and eventually pulled himself out of the competition for selection.

“I enjoyed it in one match and then in the second game, I had no motivation,” McKenna said.

He said he appreciated the support of coaches John Rusfold and Ben Rotten, who did everything they could to support him, including allowing a move to the offensive line.

McKenna spoke to the team’s coaches a few days ago and they all agreed that it was pointless for McKenna to suffer during the rest of the season, especially if he wouldn’t return in 2021.

What’s next for the machine?

Despite his homesickness ending his mission in Australia, he does not rule out returning one day, “in two or three years”.

“I don’t think the book is completely closed, but at the moment I just want to be home and be with friends and family,” he said.

Just like Tudge Kennelly did with Kerry in 2009 – four years after winning the NFL premiership with the Sydney Swans – McKenna is now looking to the All-Ireland title with his hometown, Tyrone.

“It has always been the dream. I hope to do this thing at some point,” he said.

“I will go back to my team first. I will have to quarantine again, but after that I will go back to the Gelik stadium and take it from there.”

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