Love him or loathe him, Sam Newman was all class in a heartfelt farewell speech on Thursday night’s Footy Show.
The controversial host kicked off the show with an emotional monologue about how this would be his final year.
Newman has been a regular on the program since 1994, but with uncertainty surrounding the show’s future, he decided to send a message to fans.
“I will not be continuing,” Newman said, taking his time to find the words as he appeared to choke up.
“It’s opportune that I end my association with this show and the network on the off-chance that this is the final show that we do.
— The AFL Footy Show (@AFLFootyShow) September 20, 2018
“I want to thank you very much for putting up with me or enjoying me.
“There’s been tremendous speculation about this show and me.
“So, on the off-chance, listen to those words, on the off-chance this show is not on next year, this is the opportune time to say what I’m about to say because it’s no good doing it next week when the grand final show is on, because that’s about revelry and merriment, gaiety and laughing.”
Newman has polarised footy fans over the years with his opinions and antics.
“I’ve probably been the most criticised … person in the media in Australia for probably two decades … I wouldn’t have it any other way because you are what you are.
“I know who I am, I know what I am. I take it with a grain of salt that people have a right to say whatever they like about me or this show or people on it.
“So, as I say to you, I really appreciate the fact that you have taken the time to tune in, sometimes in big numbers, sometimes in lesser numbers.
“You have got to experience the lows in life to appreciate the highs. I am one of those people. And so this is probably it for me as an in-house Footy Show contributor and next week it will probably be it for me as a grand final Footy Show participant as well.”
Fans and colleagues flocked to social media after the speech to heap praise on the footy great.
— Ashley Browne (@hashbrowne) September 20, 2018
My great friend Sam Newman speaking from the heart tonight. He IS The Footy Show. Some will find this hard to believe but he’s been my no 1 supporter from Day 1.
— Rebecca Maddern (@RebeccaMaddern9) September 20, 2018
Compelling from Sam Newman. Like him or loathe him, at least that was real. And pretty emotional.
— Sam Edmund (@SammyHeraldSun) September 20, 2018
I’ve been alive for 26 years and for as long as I can remember I’ve watched & enjoyed Sam Newman on @AFLFootyShow! Thanks for the great memories @Origsmartassam #thefootyshow #afl https://t.co/Jq8nWe2Kl3
— Dylan Brown (@drbrown92) September 20, 2018
— ron reed (@reedrw) September 20, 2018
If anyone is deserving of a standing ovation next Thursday for 54 years of involvement in our game it is John "Sam" Newman. Those words just aired were humbling and deeply moving.
Football owes you a debt @Origsmartassam. THANK YOU.
— Rob Parry (@PazzaDons2012) September 20, 2018
Sam is the only one on the footy show willing to tell it like it is. He’s honest to a fault and while I don’t agree with everything he says, the show won’t be the same without Sams footy opinions and perspective.
— Kerrie (@BomberKez73) September 20, 2018
Well said..no PC crap from Sam..
— Soraya Tsemtsidis (@suri1993) September 20, 2018
Sam, you will be missed mate. #9AFLFootyShow
— Jake Bozinovski 🐝⚫️⚪️ (@TheRealBozza1) September 20, 2018
Emotional speech that takes guts & determination from a unique, intelligent & brilliant raconteur. Fingers crossed you’ll be back with the show next year. Nothing like live entertainment.
— Philippa (@Bonjour_Pippy) September 20, 2018
Great speech Sam. Footy show not complete without Sam. His fine line is why I watch the show. Speaks his mind as he should be able to! Keep @Origsmartassam
— Sean Wise (@mad_leprecaun72) September 20, 2018
On Friday morning, Footy Show host Eddie McGuire said he was still hopeful Newman would be back next year.
“I am very very hopeful the great man will be part of Channel 9,” he told Triple M Hot Breakfast.
“You know my absolute love and respect for Sam it would be absolute madness for him not to be part of Channel 9 next year.
“I’m still very hopeful and confident, and I’ve got no inside mail on this because the decisions haven’t been made.”