Addiction almost killed AFL star Rod Owen, but he was hiding the agony of abuse

As evening approached on October 21, 2018, an emaciated, sickly man with hollow eyes and an agitated manner staggered along Bay Street in Port Melbourne, limping and muttering, scattering startled passers-by.

Could it really be him? The once-great AFL footballer? Was it really Rod Owen?

Times had been tough, sure, but everyone still knew the face and the name. In a bayside town of wharfies, dealers and toughs, he could out-drink and out-brawl them all. They knew him as “Rocket”, the perfect nickname for a human missile.

On good days, Owen could hide his problems and carry on like everything was fine. But this was not a good day. He was unemployed, disoriented and angry. Those who still cared about him feared the end was close.

For 36 years…



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