1 December 2011
Over several years of calamity and sordidness, Brendan Fevola has proven himself to be the fool of the AFL.
Fevola has plummeted from the echelons of the game that has sustained him, and in fact made him. Through nothing short of abominable behaviour and the perils of addiction, Fevola has lost it all; plummeted to the basest of scenarios for any athlete.
He cannot train, cannot play. No club wants him. The once most feared forward in the AFL has become a pariah.
Despite all of this, there is little doubt Fevola could be an important player for an AFL club 2012.
A falsely framed element of this argument is whether Fev deserves a shot at redemption. Deserving matters little here. Truth be told he's effectively burned all his rope after the implosion in Brisbane.
What a prospective club needs to know is based on three things. One is ability, the second is mindset, and the third Fevola's impact on the playing group and its culture.
When it comes to the latter, plenty of younger sides will baulk at the prospect; that fear is enough to scratch Fevola off their To Do lists. The developing Lions were stung when they ignored his perilously recalcitrant nature. Fevola's negative influence on the Lions cannot be understated, they are still walking wounded.
Despite this jaded history, others clubs with stiff regimes might feel they can mould Fevola into a more respectable member of their outfit. They have plenty of good reasons for trying.
The man is clearly special on a football field.
Put Fev on the minimum playing wage, something he's already expressed willingness to do, and he's guaranteed to draw a crowd even at the VFL level. His form playing in the seconds at the end of last season was impressive, 43 goals in six games is nothing to sneer at.
Show his attributes but not his name and Fevola would be snapped up by any club.
Granted, the demands of top flight footy would be a far different proposition. Every element of the game is faster and tougher, and a key forward can be easily found out if his pace is off. That would worry many coaches, but they'll acknowledge the fact Fevola was so dominant and effective in front of goal despite having been unfit and unaccustomed to playing.
The pressure and scrutiny on Fevola would be monumental, but it needs to become something he thrives on. For years now he has come out looking like the bully with no bravado, suddenly being squashed by a bigger kid. The media has been relentless, the fans unforgiving. His ego has been belted, his reputation left flailing in the gutter.
Yet, there is still a warped sense of fascination with his story. Plenty of footballers have fallen by the wayside, but it seems the community at large is pushing Fevola with one hand, gripping him with the other. It's a tragic tug-of-war that Fevola started himself.
Naturally, he is a divisive figure who is easily scorned by opposition fans and dismissed by the wider community as a buffoon. Equally, he thrives in the spotlight; whether it be on the MCG or in front of the camera (Brownlow Medal 2009 aside).
It's hard to tell which clubs might take a punt on a character like that in one of the two drafts remaining before the beginning of next season. There are certainly more out of the running than in it. The Bulldogs did the trick for Barry Hall, North Melbourne could dearly do with a heavyweight in their forward 50 to ease the burden on Drew Petrie, while Sydney could be a nice fit.
To attract someone, Fevola needs to adopt a tougher, harder shell and a more professional mindset. He still carries baggage and despite an armoured exterior, has more holes than the Etihad Stadium surface after a busy week. There's remain no solid evidence that his head is right and the comeback is earnest.
Until that time he'll remain the Lindsay Lohan of Australia's sporting fraternity, still enjoying freedom, but through his own misdeeds, still being denied from doing what he loves.
Fevola's current profile image on Twitter is of him standing by a sign that reads “End of the trail”. Only time will tell if it's prophetic.
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The Colonel, Bathurst (19 December 2011 2:33PM) wrote:
Great read - Keep up the excellent work.