A year ago it was reported that James Hird was being considered for an analyst role with the Fremantle Dockers.
Eventually nothing transpired in what would have represented the first involvement for Hird at AFL level since he departed the Bombers as Senior Coach in 2015.
James Hird damaged goods?
When the link with Fremantle was made public, the opinions from the general public were varied on whether the 46 year-old was deserving of another chance at AFL level after the supplement saga that resulted under his watch at Essendon.
A year later it seems nothing has changed. The debate was reignited again last week when AFL legend Kevin Sheedy backed his former champion player to make a return to AFL ranksEmbed from Getty Images
“He has said sorry. How many times do you have to say sorry? I know people will jump at shadows because of what happened and that’s unfortunate.”
“But he is one of the most intelligent football thinkers I’ve met. I think he is prime, ready to coach at an AFL club (again).”
Finding a role
Obviously an AFL club is not going to appoint James Hird as a senior coach or supplements advisor at this point in time.
Any appointment regardless of the role would be met with media scrutiny and likely some backlash from club members and potentially even sponsors which might be enough to scare a lot of clubs away.
But more than four years since leaving Essendon, does time heal all wounds? Do people deserve a second chance? Brownlow Medallist Jimmy Bartel like Kevin Sheedy certainly believes so.Embed from Getty Images
“If he wants to come back, I have no doubt he’d make a good assistant coach to start with. Sheeds is spot on, he’s one of the smartest mind in football. I’m all for it – we crossed that bridge when he presented the Norm Smith Medal (in 2017). I think everyone in the football community will be fine with it.”
The reaction on social media in the last week would probably suggest not everyone is fine with it. Perhaps the players would be a little more open minded. It has recently been revealed that Hird spent time in 2018 mentoring Bombers midfielder Kyle Langford with the midfielder enjoying a career best season.
For many the stigma attached to James Hird will not go away but will there ever be a time the man gets a chance to rebuild his reputation at the top level?