Chief executive Gillon McLachlan admits the AFL erred in its handling of Reece Conca's "appalling" hit on Devon Smith last weekend.
Richmond's Conca received a two-match ban for his elbow to the back of the head of the GWS midfielder.
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Reece Conca's 'appalling act'
AFL chief Gillon McLachlan says Reece Conca's incident should have been referred immediately to the tribunal.
Boxer and one-punch campaigner Danny Green lashed the AFL for its handling of the incident, saying it sent a poor message to the community.
"The AFL had a real chance to make a real stand against this kind of violence, which the whole of society is trying to abolish," Green told 3AW on Friday.
"The AFL should have taken a stand and said, 'You know what, son, we know you are sorry and you didn't mean it and wouldn't normally do it but we have to make a stand and stamp this type of behaviour out'."
McLachlan said the incident should have been referred directly to the AFL tribunal, which would have allowed more scope for punishment.
"I thought it was an appalling act and I feel the match review panel (MRP) is constrained by it," McLachlan told 3AW later on Friday.
"I think probably the right outcome here was to put this straight to the tribunal because if you look at the rules, the application in this case was right of the MRP.
"But when you've got a guy, out of anger, running after a guy and hitting him from behind ... I just think it's a terrible, terrible act and I understand Danny Green's comments."
McLachlan said nothing could be done about it now, with no place for the AFL Commission to step in.
He said he had spoken to the MRP and AFL football operations boss Mark Evans, who is reviewing the citing process.
"I think we need to learn from it and understand what could have been done better if we feel that an outcome isn't right."
But Richmond’s general manager of football, Dan Richardson, told SEN on Friday night that he didn’t know why McLachlan needed to raise the Conca issue again after it had been dealt with, ‘‘rightly or wrongly’’, by the match review panel.
‘‘Gil doesn’t want us to comment on the tribunal but it seems to be OK for him to comment, so is he going to fine himself? I’m not too sure,’’ Richardson said. ‘‘I think there’s some double standards there.’’
Meanwhile, the AFL will begin monitoring the health of Essendon players. Testing led by the chief medical officer Dr Peter Harcourt will start next week.
The players were involved in the Bombers' controversial supplements program in 2011-12.
"It's a proper process being worked through with the club led by Peter Harcourt, and it's an appropriate response," McLachlan said.