IT'S A FIELD jam packed with titans of the game.
Lance Franklin, Adam Goodes, Michael Long, Graham 'Polly' Farmer, Andrew McLeod and 11 more, all with a claim to be The Deadliest – the Greatest Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Player as voted by fans on AFL.com.au in 2020.
And if you think deciding the winner will be tough across the 10-week competition, picking the 16-man shortlist for The Deadliest was every bit as challenging.
How were the 16 chosen?
In the lead-up to the 2020 season, AFL.com.au approached some of the game's greatest to form a selection panel.
The 50-strong selection panel was drawn from:
- Original selectors for the Indigenous Team of the Century
- The Indigenous Players Alliance
- The Aboriginal & Torres Strait Advisory Council
- Past and current AFL players
- AFL senior coaches
- AFL umpires
- Other senior AFL figures
Among the selectors were current senior coaches, Indigenous Team of the Century players, AFL Commissioners and no less than eight AFL premiership players.
Who made the starting 16?
These 16 players, in alphabetical order, received the most votes:
Graham 'Polly' Farmer
Sir Doug Nicholls
Who was unlucky to miss out?
In all, 29 players received multiple votes. Among the unluckiest was Noongar and North Melbourne champ Jim Krakouer, who received the 17th most votes overall.
Dual Carlton premiership player Syd Jackson perhaps suffered from half a century having elapsed since he took the VFL by storm in the 1960s and '70s. And few on the panel would have seen Tiwi pioneer David Kantilla's best work in the SANFL in the 1960s.
Three-time Brisbane premiership player Darryl White was another to miss out despite being named in the backline in the Indigenous Team of the Century.
"You look at all of those in the final 16 and there was only one player who played in the backline and that was Wanganeen," says White, who will help analyse the votes as they unfold on the new NITV show Yokayi Footy each Wednesday night.
"Chris Johnson was stiff to miss out. A bloke like David Wirrpanda, who played 240-250 games – they played backline, won premierships and grabbed a few All-Australians."
Should White himself have made the cut?
"When I saw it I was a little bit dirty, they could have just put me in and chucked me out in the first round," he said with a chuckle.
"I don't think they had their thinking caps on, the panel.
"I had the opportunity to play in one of the greatest teams of all time so that helped pump my career up, but I didn't have many personal achievements.
"That didn't bother me because I was always very team-orientated."
What did the selectors consider when making their choices?
Says White: "I don't think they picked them on their stats and accolades, I think there was more to it.
"It's a diverse group, there's a few older ones.
"There's Stephen Michael who didn't play VFL/AFL, so people outside Western Australia, none of them would rate him. Stephen Michael is the greatest player not to play VFL/AFL.
"I think he's definitely in the conversation if you ask me.
"Sir Doug Nicholls, I'm not too sure – is his VFL/AFL career too short?"
What happens next?
Fans will now be able to vote for their player of choice as the top 16 go head-to-head each week on AFL.com.au.
The weekly winners will be revealed on the Yokayi Footy show each Wednesday night.
"We'll have our expert take on it on the Yokayi Footy panel, and then throw it to the audience to vote," White says.
"It's a bracket situation, so one against one and then the loser goes out and the winner goes forward into another bracket.
"By week 10 in the lead-up to Sir Doug Nicholls Round we'll have an answer on who's the Deadliest Indigenous footballer."
You can watch the launch of The Deadliest on the first episode of Yokayi Footy on Wednesday, March 18 at 8pm on NITV, AFL.com.au, the AFL Live App, SBS Viceland and SBS On Demand.
Head to afl.com.au/deadliest to cast your vote for the greatest Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander player.