Mason Cox was awesome on the weekend and he has a blunt message for his critics — as well as those Aussies mocking his new look.
As debate rages around Mason Cox’s AFL future, the Collingwood star has hit out at critics and pinpointed a feature of Australian culture that has seen him mocked for his unique on-field look.
The American has only played four games this season and earlier in the year came under fire from pundits who suggested it was time for the Magpies to end the “experiment” with their import from the States.
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But an impressive Cox played a key role in Collingwood’s shock win over Carlton on the weekend, delivering 11 disposals, 11 contested possessions and six marks to go with a crucial final quarter goal.
The 31-year-old has undergone five eye surgeries since an accidental eye-poke in 2018 and is sporting protective, prescription glasses this season on the field and the training paddock to prevent further damage.
The unusual look has made him a target of ridicule Down Under but Cox won’t compromise on his safety.
“It’s a medical thing for me. People can talk about it and say this and that and make fun of it, but at the end of the day, if I get poked in the eye again I’m going to go blind,” Cox told AFL.com.au.
“I don’t want to take that risk. I want to have a normal life once I finish footy.
“I think it’s a bit of Australia, to be honest, they don’t like anything that looks a bit different or doesn’t fit inside the box. Sorry I’m a bit too big to fit inside the box.
“If that means wearing sunnies when I play … there is good reasoning for wearing the sunnies.”
The outside noise surrounding Cox, who has played just 11 games across the 2021 and 2022 seasons, doesn’t worry him, with the 211cm giant telling the naysayers their opinions won’t affect how he approaches his ever-evolving journey in footy.
“I know a lot of people like to talk a bit of s**t in the media and what not, but it doesn’t really bother me. It’s not their journey to go through. I’m pretty proud of my career and where I’m from,” Cox told AFL.com.au.
“If people want to talk s**t, they can talk s**t. In all honesty, I think when I end up looking back on my career, I will be pretty proud and happy with how it’s all gone.”
Port Adelaide great Kane Cornes isn’t convinced entirely by Cox’s effort against Carlton, saying his lack of impact in recent years counts for more than a single outing.
“He’s been exposed when he’s been forward and at times has been a liability for Collingwood,” Cornes told Footy Classified.
“If you’re averaging seven touches in your last 10 (games) with three marks and you’re a forward, yeah I think questions over your performance should be there.”
Fellow Footy Classified panellist Sam McClure disagreed, saying Cox has earned the right with numerous game-breaking performances over past seasons not to be relegated to the VFL in future.
“I nearly fell off my chair … when I found out that this man was not in the coaches’ votes (for best on ground against Carlton),” McClure said.
“I thought his impact … was second to none and they really needed him late and he had some key moments.
“He was a real presence and I don’t really understand why he would ever be playing VFL again.
“He’s won two finals off his own boot, I don’t think many players can say that. Not that long ago — one was against West Coast two years ago and the other was in 2018.
“I think they (Collingwood) need to find a spot for him.”