Off the Wall

This has hardly been the best week for the CEO of the NRL.

He received a hostile reception when he presented the JJ Giltian Shield - which goes to the minor premiers - to the Melbourne Storm last Sunday.

That was hardly surprising. And as one who has witnessed some very hostile crowd reactions to VIP's over the years I have certainly heard much worse.

It would have all ended there but for his poorly constructed comments in a radio interview when he linked "passion" - which Storm supporters say was behind the hostile reaction - to terrorists as well.

Given the proximity to 9/11, not to mention the inappropriateness of the comment as a whole, he has been roundly criticised.

The problem with the way the NRL is run is that on so many issues the CEO is judge, jury and executioner - or that is the perception.

On the one hand the CEO is charged with being the game's public face, while at the same time he exercises wide powers over clubs and players. When the penalties were handed out to the Storm last year, penalties that took away two premierships and made their 2010 season useless, the perception was that David Gallop alone was responsible for them.

He has to be the one, under the current structure, to hand out the trophies and the plaudits, as well as the penalties!

Once the independent commission is in place the Commission's chairman, John Grant, can share the honours with the CEO. Had the Commission been in place now John Grant would have lowered the temperature in Melbourne last Sunday.

But there is another issue that continues to trouble me, and further justifies the establishment of the IC immediately.

The leniency that David Gallop has shown towards Todd Carney has been both extraordinary and troubling.

I cannot recall any player in recent history being treated so leniently, especially given his troubled history.

And what I wonder is whether that leniency has done Todd Carney any favours at all.

There is another Roosters player who went off the rails, but was treated perhaps more harshly than Todd Carney. And that player is Jake Friend.

This season, and for the best part of last season, Jake Friend turned his off field behaviour around.

He did so clearly under the threat that if he didn't he would be shown the door.

This year he has been the standout player, admittedly in a disappointing team. But that should not detract from his achievements.

At the Roosters presentation night last week Jake Friend won the club's most prestigious award - the Jack Gibson Player of the Year Award.

Jake Friend did not ask for any favours. There were no excuses or denials.

He copped his punishment, and turned his career around.

I know that a seeming addiction to alcohol is a part of the Carney story.

But you have to wonder if a tougher line from the Roosters, and the NRL, might not have led to a better situation than the one Carney funds himself in today?

There is too much power, and responsibility, vested in the game's CEO.

The weekend saw how that can be a disadvantage for the game - and its CEO!

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