Infotainment Factory: Why million-dollar man Boyd was worth every cent

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Thursday, 16 May 2019

Why million-dollar man Boyd was worth every cent


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Individuals at football clubs spend lifetimes chasing premierships.

If you’re privileged to be at a club such as Geelong, Hawthorn or the early 2000s Brisbane Lions, sometimes you’re lucky enough to witness multiple.

But dynasties in the AFL are that few and far between that any move you can make towards winning just one flag is often worthwhile.

When the Western Bulldogs made the decision to trade club captain Ryan Griffen to the GWS Giants in the 2014 trade period, no one at the club could have foreseen what would occur inside three seasons.

Griffen’s trade request, which came around the time the club had sacked its senior coach Brendan McCartney, frankly rocked the Bulldogs.

Prior to 2016, the Bulldogs had one of the most storied premiership droughts in league history, having won just one flag in VFL/AFL history since 1925.

The late 2010s had seen perhaps the greatest collection of talent come through the club’s doors only for the majority to leave with not even a single Grand Final appearance to show for it.

Tom Boyd

As Tom Boyd calls it quits today on perhaps the most eventful 61-game career in AFL history, the final haul the Bulldogs paid for him includes Griffen and the 6th pick in the 2014 Draft which turned into now-Carlton defender Caleb Marchbank.

Boyd had just nine games and eight goals under his belt when the Bulldogs threw a seven-year, $7 million deal the way of the then 19-year-old.

Yet, while he managed just 52 games for the Bulldogs, that legendary four-game stretch for the club in 2016 makes it all worth it.

Boyd is such an indelible part of what is perhaps the league’s most unlikely premiership win, that it is remarkable to think he did not play a single game between Round’s 5 and 16 in 2016.

Players who make a million dollars per season do so because they are match-winners, and that is exactly what Boyd did in the 2016 Grand Final.

With the game in the balance at half-way mark of the match, Boyd turned into an instrumental part of the triumph, kicking three goals including what was the virtual sealer from the centre square after dispossessing Sydney’s own million-dollar man Lance Franklin.

Boyd may not have had the brilliant early-career seasons of fellow young stars in Tom Lynch and Jeremy Cameron, but he did what neither stars have done to date: dominate a Grand Final at 21.

Ryan Griffen

Boyd’s impact and worth for the Bulldogs was not lost on senior coach Luke Beveridge after his Grand Final heroics.

“He can graduate, and he can go and throw his hat, and he can never come back and not play another game,” Beveridge told reporters.

“I challenge anyone in the room to knock back the contract we offered him.

“You wouldn’t knock it back. When we needed our players to find their very best performance he found his in a Grand Final. That was amazing.”

While we were lucky enough to witness a glimpse of what the 200cm, 103kg behemoth could have been, Boyd’s retirement is no doubt a sad story given his immense potential.

There was a reason he was drafted first overall in 2013, ahead of one of the AFL’s current premiere players in Josh Kelly.

Mental health struggles may have cut short his AFL career, but Boyd’s current status as a spokesman for mental health makes him an invaluable part of society.

Speaking to PlayersVoice, Boyd discussed the depths of his struggles which occurred during his premiership heroics.

Tom Boyd

“Throughout 2016, clearly we had an amazing year and managed to win the flag which was an incredible experience but from my point of view it probably covered up a lot of the cracks,” he said.

“I was struggling with quite a bit of stress that I didn’t know at the time and a bit of anxiety.

“I started suffering from quite insomnia and spent a month to six weeks without really sleeping at all.”

Boyd’s early retirement is no doubt a cautionary tale, but not one of unfulfilled talent like you might think so.

Instead it is a cautionary tale for the AFL community to stop thinking of players as numbers on a club’s financial balance sheet, but as humans who hurt like all of us do.

Boyd leaves the game at just 23 years of age with his entire life ahead of him which he will no doubt use to improve his health and to serve a bigger purpose than kicking a ball around a field.

He leaves with a final tally of 61 games and 50 goals spread across two AFL clubs between 2015 and 2019.

But most importantly, he leaves having played a vital role in delivering a club starved of success its biggest moment in half a century.

He leaves having given an entire generation of fans a moment they will hold onto until their last breath.

For that, he is worth every single cent of the contract handed to him.

Individuals at football clubs spend lifetimes chasing premierships.

If you’re privileged to be at a club such as Geelong, Hawthorn or the early 2000s Brisbane Lions, sometimes you’re lucky enough to witness multiple.

But dynasties in the AFL are that few and far between that any move you can make towards winning just one flag is often worthwhile.

When the Western Bulldogs made the decision to trade club captain Ryan Griffen to the GWS Giants in the 2014 trade period, no one at the club could have foreseen what would occur inside three seasons.

Griffen’s trade request, which came around the time the club had sacked its senior coach Brendan McCartney, frankly rocked the Bulldogs.

Prior to 2016, the Bulldogs had one of the most storied premiership droughts in league history, having won just one flag in VFL/AFL history since 1925.

The late 2010s had seen perhaps the greatest collection of talent come through the club’s doors only for the majority to leave with not even a single Grand Final appearance to show for it.

Tom Boyd

As Tom Boyd calls it quits today on perhaps the most eventful 61-game career in AFL history, the final haul the Bulldogs paid for him includes Griffen and the 6th pick in the 2014 Draft which turned into now-Carlton defender Caleb Marchbank.

Boyd had just nine games and eight goals under his belt when the Bulldogs threw a seven-year, $7 million deal the way of the then 19-year-old.

Yet, while he managed just 52 games for the Bulldogs, that legendary four-game stretch for the club in 2016 makes it all worth it.

Boyd is such an indelible part of what is perhaps the league’s most unlikely premiership win, that it is remarkable to think he did not play a single game between Round’s 5 and 16 in 2016.

Players who make a million dollars per season do so because they are match-winners, and that is exactly what Boyd did in the 2016 Grand Final.

With the game in the balance at half-way mark of the match, Boyd turned into an instrumental part of the triumph, kicking three goals including what was the virtual sealer from the centre square after dispossessing Sydney’s own million-dollar man Lance Franklin.

Boyd may not have had the brilliant early-career seasons of fellow young stars in Tom Lynch and Jeremy Cameron, but he did what neither stars have done to date: dominate a Grand Final at 21.

Ryan Griffen

Boyd’s impact and worth for the Bulldogs was not lost on senior coach Luke Beveridge after his Grand Final heroics.

“He can graduate, and he can go and throw his hat, and he can never come back and not play another game,” Beveridge told reporters.

“I challenge anyone in the room to knock back the contract we offered him.

“You wouldn’t knock it back. When we needed our players to find their very best performance he found his in a Grand Final. That was amazing.”

While we were lucky enough to witness a glimpse of what the 200cm, 103kg behemoth could have been, Boyd’s retirement is no doubt a sad story given his immense potential.

There was a reason he was drafted first overall in 2013, ahead of one of the AFL’s current premiere players in Josh Kelly.

Mental health struggles may have cut short his AFL career, but Boyd’s current status as a spokesman for mental health makes him an invaluable part of society.

Speaking to PlayersVoice, Boyd discussed the depths of his struggles which occurred during his premiership heroics.

Tom Boyd

“Throughout 2016, clearly we had an amazing year and managed to win the flag which was an incredible experience but from my point of view it probably covered up a lot of the cracks,” he said.

“I was struggling with quite a bit of stress that I didn’t know at the time and a bit of anxiety.

“I started suffering from quite insomnia and spent a month to six weeks without really sleeping at all.”

Boyd’s early retirement is no doubt a cautionary tale, but not one of unfulfilled talent like you might think so.

Instead it is a cautionary tale for the AFL community to stop thinking of players as numbers on a club’s financial balance sheet, but as humans who hurt like all of us do.

Boyd leaves the game at just 23 years of age with his entire life ahead of him which he will no doubt use to improve his health and to serve a bigger purpose than kicking a ball around a field.

He leaves with a final tally of 61 games and 50 goals spread across two AFL clubs between 2015 and 2019.

But most importantly, he leaves having played a vital role in delivering a club starved of success its biggest moment in half a century.

He leaves having given an entire generation of fans a moment they will hold onto until their last breath.

For that, he is worth every single cent of the contract handed to him.

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