James Hird did wrong. As head coach of the Essendon Football Club, he should have had more control of what was going on at Essendon during the period that lead to the doping regime saga. A dark time in both the history of the Essendon Football Club and the AFL. It was a time where everybody questioned even their own clubs to determine whether such blatant mismanagement was possible.
Now I do not proclaim to know exactly what went on behind the doors at Windy Hill in 2012 or thereabouts. The truth is that I have no idea. If we are being completely honest, I am not sure there are too many people who do have any idea either, other than perhaps Hird himself and the infamous Stephen Dank. I am not sure even the players completely know. Day after day there was a new leak or story in regards to the saga and honestly by the end of it, I think we had all simply had enough.
What we do know though is that last week a sick James Hird was taken to hospital with a suspected drug overdose. I say suspected, because despite the over reporting of this news, I am not sure we really know. When the story initially broke it was reported that James Hird had simply gone to hospital in an ambulance. Newsworthy? Probably not? Later on further details emerged and the media all seemed so baffled that health officials would not be more specific with a diagnosis. They even broadcast from outside hospitals he was no longer staying at and tried to get pictures from his house. Disrespectful and wrong on so many levels.
Who cares? Lots of people were rushed to hospital today. Doesn’t mean that it is news. https://t.co/TuRVJ9wovR
— Thomo (@liamthompson1) January 5, 2017
Just in: Former Essendon coach James Hird is believed to have been rushed to hospital after a health scare https://t.co/CXMTBl88EH
— The Age (@theage) January 5, 2017
We can all join the dots and work out that Hird most probably has not had the best of times since he left the AFL world. He has fought court battle after court battle and along with the players, has endured suspensions and more uncontrollable twists and turns in his AFL career than most of us could ever expect in a life time. Whether this lead to Hird’s illness, we will probably never know and neither should we. It is not any of our business.
What we do need to remember though is that as much as Hird has been painted as a villain, he is still most certainly a person. At home he is James or Dad to a wife and four children. Imagine your father becoming ill and then having to read all about how awful a person he is on social media. In 2017, people who sit behind their keyboards and abuse others on social media are almost the lowest of the low. I went on Twitter to find a few examples for this piece, but as you can imagine, a fair proportion are not fit for publication and I did in no way want to draw attention to the trolls of the world.
When the story broke last Thursday afternoon, it was another mad rush from news networks to be the first to break the news. I understand this is the job of a journalist and it gets people to tune into the news, but sometimes, just sometimes I feel we forget that humans have feelings and as such stories are then sensationalised to the point of silliness.
Back in reality, the relevant appeals have wrapped up and the suspended Essendon players have returned to the Club or to their respective lives after serving bans. While many will not ever be able to fully recover, life must and has to go on. It is time the media, us as fans and the social media world let Hird and everyone else involved in the saga do what they need to do to get back on the right track. James Hird is a human being and quite frankly, it is the not only the right thing to do, it is the only thing to do.
Life is short and everybody makes mistakes. Some bigger than others, but everyone, everyone, deserves a chance to make amends and a chance to be able to live without fear of opening their front door or logging onto their computer.
This story is already a devastating one for so many people, please, just please, do not let it become a tragic one.
Bring on season 2017.
Picture – Essendon FC