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Wayne Carey's public penance could well have him back in the goal square sooner than you think, writes Peter Brent

March 28, 2002

`MATE, you must be really hurting inside right now," said the interviewer tenderly, briefly touching the knee of a tearful Wayne Carey on the Fox Footy Channel's White Line Fever on Monday night.

The King flinched (Was it the physical contact or simply the raw emotion?) before opening up his bleeding heart.

Actually, the above may or may not have happened because I didn't see the show and so made it up. But on Monday night Carey threw himself at the mercy of the Australian court for an hour on Foxtel. What follows are his actual quotes.

Sleeping with Kelli Stevens, his vice-captain's wife, was "the stupidest thing I've ever done".

"I'm disappointed at myself. It has been the hardest two weeks of my life... I've always thought that the club was bigger than any individual ... I'm not angry - I'm just disappointed in myself. I've let a lot of people down, my family, my friends, my club."

And this one: "Football is the furthest thing on my mind, it isn't a consideration at this stage."

So this was serious penance, self-flagellation, tightly scripted, choreographed and produced by some Harry M.Miller or other.

Let me make this declaration: I don't follow any football. I wouldn't have known Wayne Carey from that motorbike rider called Wayne until two weeks ago. So when first discovering this great Victorian soap in the paper I went, as you do, straight to the pickies.

The woman was blonde and pretty spunky. The bloke was tall, dark and boofy with long lashes on eyes that were too close together. Perhaps not central casting but talent that Days of our Lives would have been proud of.

Aussie Rules is not all it seems. Subsequent research revealed an astounding fact - football players and their fans are deeply moral people. They live by a strict and complex set of rules and are easily outraged.

This is why the industry counts among its number role models such as John Elliot, Sam Newman and that guy who overdosed on the methadone a prostitute had slipped him in a Sydney hotel a few years ago. Mate, that low mongrel Carey is bringing the game into disrepute. Broken the back of the team, broken his best mate's heart, let down his wife.

Journalists, who we know are never promiscuous, have been reporting the story deeply and with meaning. Even federal Opposition Leader Simon Crean, also employed in an industry known for its fuddy-duddiness regarding matters of the trouser, felt obliged to comment.

So on Monday night, Carey gave a sorry to the nation on Foxtel. (Foxtel, incidentally, is also full of goody-two-shoes, like that bra fancier before the courts last year.) "I haven't really done much [in Wagga since the story broke], just sat around on the couch a fair bit and did a fair bit of soul searching," he said.

Carey is obviously depressed, which is another way of saying he's feeling sorry for himself. And it is a cheap and easy shot to say he's really only sorry he got caught, which is why I've just said it.

But those who say Carey is only human are correct. Let he who is without sin, and all that stuff.

Most people who have experienced utter despair and self-loathing from their appalling behaviour - that is, most people - know he'll be back on his feet again some time soon, probably back in the game, and able to put the whole episode in perspective.

Onwards and upwards. He's only human, after all, and humans are resilient. The King will be his old self again in no time.

Peter Brent is editor of mumble.com.au.

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