I’d never considered how others perceived me until halfway through the 1993 season, when I learned I’d been lumbered with the uncomplimentary nickname FIGJAM. For the uninitiated, it stands for “F--- I’m Good, Just Ask Me”.
I was ropeable. Horrified. All my anger was directed at one person, Herald Sun journalist Jon Anderson, who wrote the offending tidbit. I thought: “This bloke doesn’t even know me. I’ve been playing AFL footy for three months. Why would I be strutting around so arrogantly when I’ve proved nothing? It defies logic.”
Yes, I was confident in my abilities and I enjoyed testing them at every opportunity, but I’d just graduated from a Port Adelaide culture that was all about understanding your place in the scheme of things. No one person was any more important than the next and I believed that, and felt like I lived it as well. I’ve never been one to spruik my own qualities. I prefer my actions to do the talking.
The FIGJAM tag hurt me because I just didn’t see myself like that. But obviously someone did. Regardless of their motivations or agendas, that was the indisputable truth. I hadn’t heard a whisper of it in Brisbane. No one had even jokingly called me FIGJAM. If people had been saying it, they never said it to my face. I don’t have the slightest idea where it came from; to this day I still don’t. The only guy who knows is the reporter and even now he won’t say.
I could imagine a journalist being informed about this so-called nickname and thinking: “Oh, that’s a good one, there’s a high-profile name, I’ll whack that in,” without stopping to consider the consequences. I certainly didn’t see the humour in it at the time and, sure enough, after it appeared in print it exploded. Everyone thought it was funny. Worst of all, they believed it was true.
Even though there’d been a lot of focus on me leading up to that, it was a harsh thing to happen to a kid who’d been in the AFL for less than a season. There weren’t many people in the AFL system who knew me at that stage. How well can you get to know someone and the way they go about their life in just a few months? When you’re a public figure, a lot of people think they know you because they read a lot about you, but that raises the question how much of what is reported as fact in the media is actually true?
Some time later, when I was in Melbourne, I fronted Jon Anderson about the story.
I was angry with him, but I didn’t show it. I know some blokes who would’ve expressed their anger in a physical way, but I thought I was fair and reasonable. I asked him: “Why did you write that?” “Well, someone told me about it,” he said.
“Look, I don’t hold a grudge against you,” I said. “You’re just trying to do your job and it makes for a good story. I just don’t think that you needed to write it, and I don’t think it was appropriate. It actually has a pretty big impact on the way people view me.”
Source : https://www.theguardian.com/sport/live/2021/jun/14/afl-2021-melbourne-vs-collingwood-live-scores-queens-birthday-teams-demons-v-magpies-premiership-season-round-13-fixture-team-news-time-start-footy-updates?page=with:block-60c53bbb8f089956fec8a7d5588