AFL: Football legend launches verbal attack on host during television interview

It was an ambush.

In 47 years of reporting on the AFL, veteran footy personality Mike Sheahan says he has never experienced anything like the level of hatred controversial footy legend Mark "Jacko" Jackson directed at him during the filming for Tuesday night's Open Mike episode.

Jackson launched an incredible verbal barrage on the former Herald Sun chief football reporter in one of the most extraordinary and painful footy interviews ever televised.

The outspoken former Melbourne, St Kilda and Geelong star said he has hated Sheahan for more than 30 years.

During the interview, filmed on Thursday, he let all the anger out.

Jackson's father George died the night the colourful character was suspended for eight matches for a hit he landed on Leigh Matthews in 1985.

Jackson insinuated the veteran scribe was partly to blame for his death because of the "stress" his reporting caused after the heated Geelong-Hawthorn clash.

"Anybody, after their father dies, after a tribunal hearing and then blames you for bringing on the stress, do you reckon you'd have anything nice to say about any of these journalists," Jackson said.

"The Leigh Matthews incident. He's the one who got charged by police for assault for breaking a bloke's jaw. He's the one who went to court and dogged me and said it was my fault. Well, listen I wouldn't do that to somebody."

Sheahan pointed out earlier that match Jackson had also whacked Chris Langford twice, Gary Ayres once and Chris Mew once.

"It doesn't matter who I whacked, they were all looking at me," Jackson responded.

"It doesn't matter. I don't blame any of the blokes I hit. They all had it coming. It was Hawthorn."

He still has personal issues with Sheahan from his reporting 30 years ago and accused him of being a "company man" that followed the AFL's directives.

"Is this job your pay-off from the job you did by poisoning everybody out of the game," Jackson asked.

"Writing the filth that affected everybody's families? Come on Mike. Grow up."

Sheahan told SEN on Monday he resented Jackson's accusation.

"He said that he hated me," Sheahan told SEN on Monday.

"That no one in football liked or respected me. And it just went on from there.

"I tried several times to argue this with him. His father died after that tribunal hearing in which he got eight weeks. Remember, from that Geelong-Hawthorn game in 1985? And he sort of loosely attributed some of the blame to me for that. But, I know I've seen a story quoting Jacko and Jacko said that the 40 cigarettes and 20 beers per day were probably a major factor.

"He did insinuate that though. And I didn't like that at all because I didn't want to think I'd contributed at all to the demise of someone."

Jackson has questioned the role women play in modern football.

He appeared to insinuate there were many football clubs across Australia that are more deserving of the attention and status the developing inaugural AFL national women's league has attracted.

The eight-team women's competition begins next year.

"I respect women, but I don't think they should be inseminated at the top level of Australian rules football," he said.

"I don't think they should be inseminated on a ladies-and-gentlemen card. I think they should earn the right.

"There's been plenty of leagues right around Australia that have been in football since its inception that deserve a better right to be at that top level because they've been in it so long.

"I'll put something to you. What if one of these league teams has a girl who gets really badly hurt out there? Where does that leave the AFL? What will that do to the game?"

Jackson also re-called how he once hoped the award-winning footy scribe would develop cancer.

"You're a pollutant. You're a toilet trained AFL jerk media journalist. That's all you are. I hate you. You're a disgrace. You're a pubic hair," Jackson said.

"You are the most disliked toilet trained journalist from the AFL that has ever sucked up a breath from God.

"I hope you have cancer of the finger so you couldn't write another poison interview like you did. If you think the show (Open Mike) is going well, you're 70-years-old. Go and pray that you get to 71."

Jackson confirmed Sheahan was once on his "hit list" of people he wanted revenge on.

He said he had around 12 people on the list when he was playing for St Kilda and kept it in his locker at the football club.

"I really have no respect for you," Jackson said.

"I hope you got cancer."

He said he still blames Sheahan for ending his career in 1986.

"You're one of the poison pens that finished it," he said.

"You're a disgrace. Mike, you're a disgrace. You've got no idea how many footballers I talk to going around that have got no respect for what you did to football. You might get all the media awards in the world being carefully trained as you were, but you've got no respect. No respect.

"I'm telling you the truth. I don't like you."

Sheahan told SEN Radio on Monday Jackson's hatred was too fierce to have been an act.

"He was too angry for that," he said.

"This wasn't mock anger. This was genuine. Towards the game largely and certainly towards the AFL and I think to the fourth estate. I don't think there was anyone in the media that would get a tick from Jacko. The odd thing is, he's probably generating a living now out of all the publicity that was generated by the media."

Jackson also took a shot at Sheahan over the fact the journalist never played football at the highest level.

"You sit there and you have the gall to come and question me about me and about my career and the blood and guts and the hours I put in at training," he said.

"You're kidding me aren't you?"

Sheahan wasn't the only person to attract Jackson's wrath.

The full-forward also fired several shots at current footballers and the state of the game.
"These guys that are playing now - these false alarmists and impostors - should be charged with fraud," he said.

"They are not playing the game in the true essence of Australian rules football. They are cheats. If you are going to talk Australian rules football talk about the old blokes who built the game."

"You've got all these players on big cash that will sign and have a front lobotomy. They'll have no personality to the crowd, apart from growing big muscles and being able to run fast."

He said he has no respect for modern footballers who are unable to kick accurately in front of the big sticks.

"When I see these punks. These false-alarmers. They take a mark 40m out. Turn their back on the goal. It's just insulting to the blokes like the (Jason) Dunstall's and the (Tony) Lockett's and the (Gary) Ablett's. It's insulting."

The 56-year-old's career ended when he was sacked by the Cats in 1986. He finished with 308 goals from 82 official appearances.

Jackson famously had a brief acting career in the United States, appearing in police drama The Highwayman and was the star in a series of Energizer battery advertising campaigns.

Jackson now lives on the Gold Coast but travels Australia on the public speaking circuit.


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