MASON Cox ran into his usual army of detractors in last Saturday night's elimination final in Perth, but this time he silenced them.
Sledges ranged from stock-standard ones telling him he was no good, to one West Coast cheer squad member hoping Cox contracted coronavirus "like your president", Donald Trump.
They were significantly quieter after Collingwood's American Pie snatched three contested marks and kicked goals from all of them in the first quarter to inspire an upset victory.
FINALS PREDICTOR Who will win the 2020 premiership?
"That didn't sit too well, so I kicked the second one, then I looked back at them again," Cox said of the Trump reference.
"Then I kicked the third one and I think they were all sitting down by that point, so it's enjoyable for myself just to shut people up every once in a while.
"West Coast supporters are very passionate and insanely supportive of their team, which is awesome, but at the same time you've got to thrive off it at times."
That's the route Cox chooses to take.
Asked if being a lightning rod for criticism gets to him, the 29-year-old showman instead spoke of his pride at succeeding in a sport he knew nothing about six years ago.
He also understands playing as a key forward for one of the biggest clubs in the AFL is always going to leave him as a target if he's out of sorts.
"I'm pretty proud of my journey and if you don't enjoy it or hate what I do, that's fine," Cox said.
"It's not a reflection on me, it's probably a reflection on yourself. I'm not too stressed about it, but it does kind of entertain me at times."
Cox's three-goal binge last week swelled his tally from his past three finals to eight, starting with his incredible 2018 preliminary final performance and the Grand Final a week later.
He played pretty well last season, kicking 18 goals in his first 11 games, but what initially seemed like just a poke in his left eye in round 20 against Gold Coast was actually far worse.
Doctors discovered he'd partially detached the retina in both his eyes and he underwent three surgeries in barely a month.
WHO'S MOVING? All the latest trade and contract news
In an interview with AFL.com.au in April, Cox described that period as "one of the hardest moments in my life".
The trouble didn't end there. He had to wear special contact lenses in the surgery aftermath, but was still struggling mid-season this year with his eyesight.
That coincided with Cox losing his spot in the senior side for a number of weeks.
"It was a bit frustrating not being able to see straight every time you're trying to mark a footy coming at you," he said.
"But eventually I saw a few doctors and we were able to get some contacts and sort out a few medications to be able to fix the problem – and we're kind of back to normal, which is good."
Cox guessed he'd been on the improve from about a week or two before he regained his AFL spot in round 13 in late August.
Meanwhile, his fellow Magpies are yet to coin a phrase for those times during games when he morphs into 'Coxzilla', but he has a big fan in star teammate Taylor Adams.
RE-SIGN OR LET GO? Your club's out-of-contract players
Adams sees the hard work Cox puts in behind the scenes and is thrilled to see the rewards following.
"I think he just loves a moment. He's a guy who's really confident in his ability and that comes off the back of putting in time and effort and working on his game," Adams said.
"He hasn't played a whole heap of footy (68 matches) and he's done some pretty extraordinary things on the footy field.
"We love what Mason brings when he's got that edge to him – a bit of swagger – and I reckon his head was a little bit larger leaving Optus Stadium at the weekend, which was good for him."