Adelaide forward Taylor Walker admits his playing future remains uncertain as he looks to repair the damage he caused Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders when he used a racially derogatory phrase to refer to North Adelaide’s Robbie Young during a quarter-time break of a match played at Prospect Oval on July 17.
In his first appearance before the media since he was suspended for six matches and fined $20,000, an emotional Walker again apologised for his comment and said he needed to repair his relationships with many people in the industry.
Taylor Walker has many relationships he needs to repair.Credit:Getty Images
He admitted he initially panicked and denied using the racial slur after an Adelaide official reported him but eventually realised he had to own what he said and face the consequences.
“When I first was pushed on this, I was in denial. I panicked, and I was scared, and I thought about myself,” Walker told reporters in Adelaide.
“I let time go, and I said to myself, ‘This is not about me, it’s about Robbie and the Adelaide official and the pain I caused to them’, and that’s when I said I’m coming forward to own this. And I want to get better for it.”
He said the Indigenous players on Adelaide’s list had been open and honest in communicating to him the hurt he had caused and the significance of what he said.
“I am just so remorseful for the things that I said, and we have had some really open and honest conversations, and they’ve expressed the pain and hurt it caused. That hurts,” Walker said.
“I have apologised and for me now I want to be judged on what I do from hereon in.
“I’m ashamed of what I said, and I have got some work to do.
“It’s now up to me to repair that relationship and reconcile and get some more education for myself because clearly I am not at the level.”
The 31-year-old is contracted to play next season but said a decision on whether he would continue was not uppermost in his mind.
“To me at the moment, playing is not my priority. Repairing relationships with the people that I have hurt is my main priority,” Walker said.
He said all parties to the conciliation process which occurred under the AFL’s racial vilification rules had signed confidentiality agreements.
He said he had spoken to former teammate Eddie Betts, the Carlton champion who expressed his devastation at Walker’s conduct after the incident came to light and spoke about the constant racial abuse directed towards him and other Indigenous players during their career.
“I have caused so much hurt and can’t say how sorry I am,” Walker said.
“I have got some work to do to repair the relationship with Betts. I have hurt him and his family and community like I have for all the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, so I have got some work to do, and I am going to go to work.”
Walker became emotional when asked about the affect his conduct had had on his immediate family.
“That’s been the hardest thing, how I have let my family down,” Walker said.
“The impact it has had on them … I have got some work to do with them.”
He confirmed he wants to attend the Crows’ best-and-fairest count with the club yet to decide on whether that would be appropriate.
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