Jason Akermanis in 2007
|Full name||Jason Dean Akermanis|
|Date of birth||24 February 1977|
|Place of birth||Mildura, Victoria|
|Original team||Mayne (QAFL)|
|Draft||NAT Zone Selection, 1994, Brisbane Bears|
|Height/Weight||177cm / 85kg|
|Position(s)||Midfielder / Forward|
325 (421)38 (44)
|Representative team honours|
|International team honours|
1 Playing statistics correct to end of 2010 season.
Jason Dean Akermanis (born 24 February 1977) was an Australian rules football player. He is a Brownlow Medallist and triple premiership player who played for the Brisbane Bears, Brisbane Lions and Western Bulldogs. He played for Glenorchy Football Club in the Tasmanian Football League in 2011.
- 1 Early career
- 2 AFL career
- 3 Off field personality and controversy
- 4 References
- 5 External links
Akermanis was born in Mildura, Victoria and is of Lithuanian descent on his Canadian-born father's side. Akermanis grew up in Victoria, moving to Queensland in his youth where he was educated at Wavell State High School then at St. Joseph's Nudgee College and played football with the Mayne Football Club where he was spotted by Brisbane Bears talent scouts. He completed year 12 at high school (aged 18) during his first year with the Brisbane Bears.
Brisbane Bears (1995–1996)
Akermanis was a solid contributor to the Brisbane Bears midfield (wing), with his pace and skills evident even early in his career.
Brisbane Lions (1997–2006)
It was after the Brisbane Lions formed that he began to shine, bulking up significantly, and a move to the forward line enabled him to make the most of his opportunities and develop a reputation as a goal sneak.
Akermanis became one of the Brisbane Lions' most talented players. His flamboyant talents and bleached-blonde hair and contrasting black beard make him easy to identify on the field. At the Lions he made his name as a speedy midfielder or on-baller with blistering acceleration and an uncanny ability to kick exceptionally well with either foot, talents which helped him win the AFL's coveted Brownlow Medal in 2001.
Akermanis is also known for his goalscoring abilities. He was a winner of the AFL Goal of the Year 2002 award and has an ability to kick goals from acute angles. In a match in 2005, he kicked two goals within minutes of each other from almost exactly the same spot: deep in the right forward pocket on the run. Early in the 2006 season, Akermanis was dropped from the Brisbane Lions side for Round 7, playing a game with the Suncoast Lions. This coincided with inflammatory comments that he made about the coach, Leigh Matthews, during the week and there was speculation that his time at the club was up, only a few months after he had won the 2005 club best and fairest award. However, Akermanis was soon recalled to the side and responded with 22 disposals across half-back in the game against Port Adelaide and a post-match interview with Channel Nine showed him smiling and visibly happy with his performance. On 27 July 2006 it was reported that the coaching panel and senior playing group had voted unanimously (12–0) to not allow him back into the club.
Western Bulldogs (2007–2010)
On 6 September, it was reported that the Western Bulldogs were leading in the race to sign Akermanis for the 2007 season. On 15 September, Akermanis confirmed that he wanted to join the Bulldogs. It was then down to the Lions agreeing on the trade price, which they did on 9 October, when Brisbane Lions football manager Graeme Allan announced that the team had agreed to trade Akermanis to the Bulldogs.
At the end of the 2008 season, Akermanis made a statement that he would retire at the end of 2009 when his three year contract expired, however he displayed excellent form at the start of the 2009 season, and later retracted his earlier comment about retirement. Western Bulldogs coach Rodney Eade said he had not ruled out the possibility of extending Akermanis' contract, depending on his performance for the rest of the season. He then signed with the Bulldogs for another year, hoping to play in a fourth premiership side. It is assumed his contract would be for substantially less pay than his previous deal, which is estimated at between $350,000 and $400,000 a year.
In July 2010 it was announced that the Western Bulldogs had terminated Akermanis' contract due to the club's judgement that the two were on different paths.
Post-AFL: Beginning of Tasmanian State League career
Akermanis began playing with the Glenorchy Football Club in the Tasmanian State League in 2011. Living in the Essendon area, Akermanis has chosen Essendon District Football team Aberfeldie as the local club to train with during the 2011 season. He made a solid Tasmanian State League debut against Clarence when he scored one goal and had 23 possessions.
Off field personality and controversy
Off the field, Akermanis is often very outspoken on issues concerning the Australian Football League and other codes.
His brash, overconfident demeanor makes him a favourite target for abuse by some supporters of other clubs, although others regard him as a colourful character and an antidote to most footballers who speak in a politically correct way. He often appears on The AFL Footy Show. He co-wrote a book with Gary Smart titled AKA – The Battle Within, which was released in 2004. He released his autobiography named Open Season in mid-2011, which further details his messy departures from both the Brisbane Lions and the Western Bulldogs.
Some of his controversies include:
- Threatening to switch codes to rugby union if the Lions signed former Kangaroos Football Club star Wayne Carey
- Revealing to the media that teammate Nigel Lappin had broken ribs before the 2003 Grand Final
- Ongoing criticism of his coach at the Brisbane Lions, Leigh Matthews and
- Claiming "an opposing player" was using performance-enhancing drugs; a comment that was linked by the media to West Coast Eagles' Michael Braun (though Akermanis never said who he was referring to), who was cleared after an investigation by the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority, which led to claims that Akermanis had lied.
- Claiming Jim Stynes was "a nasty man in his day", was treated as a "demi-god", and questioned his deservedness to receive a state funeral just two days after Stynes' death.
"Stay in the closet" remarks
In May 2010, Akermanis wrote in the Herald Sun newspaper that he believes "locker room nudity and homoerotic activities are normal inside footy clubs", but advises young gay players who are "thinking of telling the world [about their sexual orientation to] forget it." The story quickly went international and Akermanis attracted considerable criticism for his statements. In a subsequent clarification on the Nine Network program The Today Show, Akermanis stated: "the homoeroticism around football clubs ... what workplace would you be able to see 20 men nude all the time if you wanted to? When you're slapping blokes on the bum and just having a bit of fun, what would that do to a man in there when you actually work out, 'Oh wait a second, wait a second. I don't know if I can handle that guy'". In a related interview, he stated that he himself was not homophobic, but merely believed that "it would cause discomfort in that environment should someone declare himself gay."
Numerous other AFL figures have publicly distanced themselves from the claims of Akermanis, including Western Bulldogs coach Rodney Eade, Sydney Swans coach Paul Roos, AFL Players Association general manager of culture and leadership Pippa Grange and the CEO of the AFL, Andrew Demetriou. In the week following the publication of the column, Akermanis twice met with other players and club officials of the Western Bulldogs and was told that he was on the team "to help the club win games of football – not to make off-field headlines and, by extension, create massive headaches for everyone else". However, in a radio interview on Melbourne Talk Radio on 31 May, Akermanis stated that he had not lied to his club about the article and that he had the support of his club "from the top down".
It was stated on The AFL Footy Show and elsewhere that, rather than Jason Akermanis being homophobic, he was in fact standing up for the rights of homosexual footballers in his statements, which suggested his perception of an aura of homophobia around football clubs. This was particularly emphasised by Sam Newman, whose statements supporting Akermanis on this topic were used by the Western Bulldogs as justification for his sacking.
Akermanis is married to Megan Legge, a speech pathologist. They have two daughters, Charlotte and Sienna. Akermanis learned Auslan in order to communicate with his wife's hearing-impaired parents. He also speaks Spanish.
Swine flu fears
In early June 2009, Akermanis triggered fears within the AFL of a swine flu outbreak when it was revealed he had had contact with Ben Hannant of the Queensland State of Origin team just before Hannant was diagnosed with the virus. Akermanis himself was recovering from a cold and joked briefly on radio in Melbourne that he had made half the Queensland team sick. Akermanis tested negative for swine flu, alleviating fears of a swine flu outbreak in the Western Bulldogs team.
- Speaker Jason Akermanis Full Biography – Speakers Bureau @ ICMI
- A solo Akermanis gave the Bulldogs no choice, The Roar, Retrieved on 22 July 2010.
- Multicultural team of champions – Australian Football League. Published 27 June 2012. Retrieved 27 June 2012.
- "Aka shows he's far from finished". The Age. 18 May 2009.
- "Akermanis to decide his future at season's end". AAP. 12 June 2009.
- Wilson, Caroline; Lane, Samantha (21 July 2010). "Trust issues: Bulldogs sack Jason Akermanis". The Age (Melbourne).
- Smith, A., Herald Sun, "Jason Akermanis signs with Tassie team Glenorchy", 18 November 2010, Retrieved, 18 November 2010.
- "Akermanis welcome at Queensland rugby". Australian Rugby Union Ltd. 24 June 2002.
- Monteverde, Marco (7 June 2007). "Banished Lion will talk". Fox Sports. Retrieved 29 June 2010.
- Hamilton, Andrew (22 May 2009). "Akermanis speaks out against Leigh Matthews again". Courier Mail (Brisbane). Retrieved 29 June 2010.
- "Braun cleared by ASADA". Fox Sports. 20 August 2007. Retrieved 29 June 2010.
- Jason, Good (21 March 2012). "Akermanis: Stynes was a 'nasty man'". 3AW. Retrieved 21 March 2012.
- "Stay in the closet, Jason Akermanis tells homosexuals". Herald Sun News. 20 May 2010.
- "Jason Akermanis column goes global". Adelaide Now. 20 May 2010.
- "Stay in the closet, Jason Akermanis tells gay players". Herald Sun. 20 May 2010.
- Redford-Hunt, Amy (21 May 2010). "AFL distances itself from gay claim". Melbourne: The Age.
- Wilson, Caroline (26 May 2010). "Doggies battling to get Aka back on the leash". Melbourne: The Age.
- Brodie, Will (31 May 2010). "Jason Akermanis defends his honesty". Melbourne: The Age.
- "Sport: Jason Akermanis". State Library of Queensland. 3 July 2009. Retrieved 29 June 2010.
- Brodie, Will (1 June 2010). "Jason Akermanis, a colourful life". The Sydney Morning herald. Retrieved 29 June 2010.
- "Eade allays Aker's swine flu fears". AFL BigPond. 11 June 2009.
- Jason Akermanis's profile on the official website of the Western Bulldogs
- Jason Akermanis's statistics from AFL Tables
1999 (shared with Justin Leppitsch)