I want to look at this from two angles. The first being from a humanitarian point of view and the second from a football only point of view.
First off we have to remember that Brendan Fevola is a human being and like most of us, he has his failings and flaws. The problem is that his are right in the eye of the public with the media eager to pounce onto any indiscretions. That makes it hard to begin with.
When I make a mistake, mostly I make the mistake in anonymity to the public and only answer to my friends and family. Professional sports people answer to the public, media, sponsors etc. You could argue that if it wasn’t for the media broadcasting these stories that hardly anyone would know about them. Other than a select few who saw Fev arrested would know so perhaps the media sometimes make a story somewhat bigger than it actually is.
Fev is in this trouble due to football. I don’t think there is any doubt about that. Of course we don’t know if he wouldn’t have had similar issues if instead of being a professional footballer he was a chippy or a real estate agent or a doctor. Football pays and pays well. This contributed to his gambling issues. Plus the drinking and the Lara Bingle issue where an everyday Joe who looks like Fev, would have no chance of picking up someone like her. Ok, that’s a stretch but you get where I am coming from.
So if football caused these issues, then isn’t up to football to also fix these issues? It starts back at Fev’s first club at Carlton. They had a very loose leash on him and more often than not, he got away with so much. They finally had enough and orchestrated a trade to Brisbane. Brisbane knowing the troubles Fev has had, still signed him to a 3 year deal with no behaviour clauses in his contract. That means Brisbane either thought that Fev would behave or they would work with him when he didn’t.
As history now shows us, he didn’t behave though it could be argued that a lot of his issues in Brisbane were not his fault or were sins from the past. Lara Bingle happened years ago but the photo in question appeared last season. The gambling addiction began in Melbourne. The lewd charge was dismissed due to a lack of evidence, and I doubt he did it anyway. His passport and other documents were found in a park and the kind guy who found them also thought it best if he called Channel 9 and have them broadcast him returning it. It was the lead story that day! He was drunk on New Year’s Eve, made a dick of himself and got arrested. Probably along with 100 other drunken fools that night anyway, but due to his high profile his arrest ends up as the top news story for the day, again!
So Fev goes into rehab for seven weeks and within days of coming out, the Lions sack him. If football caused all of these issues, then the Lions should have kept him close to the club. Given him a goal to return to footy after round 8 or something but placed very strict conditions on him doing so. They should have continued his counselling and given him the tools to overcome his addictions and troubles. They should have done a lot of things but instead they chose to sack him, but with the promise they will continue to support him. What rubbish! They have washed their hands of him and will be glad to see him board a flight to Melbourne and never come back.
Football caused the issue and it appears as though football won’t solve the issue.
Now from a Brisbane Lions football point of view I have some issues.
I am a long time Lions fan and have supported them since day one. I am a Lions tragic and when Fev was being offered up for trade and Brisbane threw their hat in the ring, I was pissed. Really pissed off because I didn’t want him to come here. We already had a good forward line with Brown and Bradshaw and I thought that his off field dramas would cause issues, which of course now has proven to be right. The trade which brought him to Brisbane initially involved a Lions legend in Bradshaw and quality mid fielder, Michael Rischitelli being used as trade bait. The deal never happened with both Bradshaw and Rischa refusing to go to Carlton but it left a dirty taste in both their mouths and Bradshaw quit the club immediately and went to Sydney while Rischa played out his final year and couldn’t get to the new Gold Coast team quick enough. We also lost the up and coming forward Lachie Henderson and an early round draft pick for Fev. We paid a HIGH price for Fev and we got 17 games and 40 odd goals from him in one season.
The issue with sacking him is that the Lions will still need to pay out his contract, believed to be about $1.5 million over the next 2 years of Fev’s contract. The 2011 list is complete and therefore we will be without a quality forward for the entire year. So essentially $750,000 for season 2011 of Fev’s salary is gone. Poof. Up in smoke. We get zero return on investment for it.
Sure we can trade again after the end of this season and pick up another forward if that is where the list manager wants to go, but we will still have $750,000 less to spend next year paying out the third year of Fev’s contract. So chances are we won’t be targeting a high profile forward for 2012 either.
It gets worse. Due to the high value placed on Fev’s contract it is likely we will not be able to afford to keep some off contract (2011) players such as Daniel Rich and Mitch Clark. Both were in the media during the last trade period about leaving Brisbane due to not getting the money they are probably entitled to, so due to having $1.5 million dollars already accounted for in the salary cap, we will most likely lose these two quality players as well.
It is likely this decision to sack Fev and indeed recruit him in the first place, will have team and results ramifications for a few more years yet. It might be 5 years before we can recover from it.
Brisbane should have stuck with Fev. They should have put him out on the paddock and trained his arse off. They should have given him all types of conditions, which I understand Fev asked for on Sunday anyway. If he screwed up again, then sack him. Get him into the 2nds for 6 weeks to get him some match fitness and then around round 8, bring him into the team and let him do what he does best. Kick goals!
He would have too I reckon.
Seven weeks in rehab is a long time to do a lot of thinking. He had never done that before and I reckon he would have weighed it all up and worked out that he loved footy. I reckon he would have pulled his shit together and finished his career on top. Now unfortunately his AFL career is over and he will always be remembered for the negatives, not for the freakish ability he had as a footy player. He deserved better and I expected better from my footy club as well.
Queensland has shown this year how it responds to natural disasters but when it became to hard to deal with Fev, none of that Queensland spirit was on display. He was punted and abandoned and we will never know if Fev was ever worth the price we paid to get him.
I’ll always love the Brisbane Lions but my pride in them has been dented in the last two seasons. Firstly by how they handled the whole trade period at the end of the 2009 season which got Fevola to the Lions in the first place, but also by how they have kicked a mate while he is down. There is no Queensland spirit in this decision and that makes me sad.
I wish Fev the best of luck and hope he sorts out his issues soon. His young family needs him to. Fev needs to for himself as well.