Since last week, since the news that James Hird had been admitted into hospital for a suspected overdose, I have thought quite hard about commenting on this, on a subject that I have very mixed and conflicting thoughts about. I have read what others have had to say and taken all of them on board. But this is my view and it is one that for good or bad, is how, and probably how some also feel.
I have not been a fan of James Hird although I do think that as an elite AFL player, he was a great talent. But he always comes across to me as a bit arrogant, even when he was a player, but I still respected his ability as a player, even if I was not a huge fan of the club he represented. When he joined Essendon as a coach, I really had no position on his ability, although I did not think and still don’t think for anyone for that matter, that a player such as he was, would make a good coach of a club that he played for without some sort of break from such club. Of a time at another club to see what other clubs and coaches offer. Yet for all of that, I still viewed him as quite arrogant and self-conceited.
When the “Essendon Drug saga” evolved and plummeted a club and a code into “disrepute” I watched and even commented with vigor and an opinion or two. Through all of that, I am of the strong view that everything that goes on in a club as in a ruling government, the head of such club must take responsibility of its greatness and its downfall.
Throughout the long haul of the Essendon saga, James Hird was of the firm opinion that he should shoulder no blame or responsibility. Sure he apologised, but to me and to a lot of people, it was not a real-heartfelt one and it still isn’t as he is still trying to clear his name for the sake of clearing the players. Sorry I don’t believe that.
James Hird came across as self-indulgent, conceited and arrogant. Maybe he is not that person after all or maybe he is or was, I don’t know and I don’t really want to and I don’t think the sporting public wants to know, what they really want to know is his acceptance of what happened at Essendon and his role in this.
Arrogance has always been the downfall of many great sportsmen and women, but it is those that recognise this and accept it, and try with all their being to change this. Though there is no real examples that can compare to Hird and Essendon’s situation, there are some examples of players coming to terms with their arrogance and overcoming it.
LeBron James left Cleveland to Miami and even if he did win an NBA ring at his new club, he stated last year that he wanted to give back to Cleveland what he took away, hope. He cried as the final siren went and Cleveland won, as he knelt on the floor realising that he poured his heart and soul on the court to achieve this. Brendon Fevola through his arrogance at Carlton, destroyed his own career which he even admits was the sole reason that he left Carlton the way he did, but by admitting this to the public and doing all he can to redeem himself, he has a newfound respect.
Admitting that you were wrong takes courage and humility, doing something to restore a faith lost takes a deep seeded need to show this. Some people do have that inner need to achieve this, some just can’t and take the only way out they see in front of them and this is where I will probably be viewed in a negative way, but hear me out.
James Hird is a troubled man because he cannot understand why the AFL world turned against him. His glorious role as an AFL player has been tainted and will always be tainted, over-shadowed by his role as an AFL coach in a drug scandal.
James Hird tried to wash away a professional mistake by overdosing. We are told we should wish him well in coming to terms with his issues and overcoming them, and I do for the sake of his children, and it is them that I hope he does overcome his present low self-worth. That’s it and that is the only wish I wish for him. If he had admitted from the start of what he did was wrong, irrespective of what it may have cost him professionally, the sporting world would have allowed him to try and regain some respect, but he didn’t.
I hope for the sake of his children he gets the help he needs and becomes the man his children need him to be, but for me and for a lot of AFL fans, he is not a great AFL legend, he was, but he is no more.