NO PLAYER has ever won the Brownlow Medal in a team that hasn't won a game. Only two players have ''Brownlowed'' in a team that has finished bottom, Fitzroy's Dinny Ryan in 1936 and Hawthorn's Col Austen in 1949.
Yet, that very preposterous scenario is being considered by the bookmakers, albeit only as a betting proposition, in 2012. Gary Ablett is ($8) second favourite for the medal, behind Essendon skipper Jobe Watson ($6), in a team that is 0-12.
Ablett has won more than 40 disposals in five of the 10 games he has played. He was injured early in the last quarter of another (round four against Brisbane) in which he was on schedule for 40 touches, then missed the next two games.
Ablett, thus, has had 40 or more possessions in more than half the games he has completed.
If history counts against a second Ablett Brownlow this year, the notion of him winning it in a team that does not win at all, has been put into the marketplace by TAB Sportsbet, which is offering odds of $34 for Ablett to take the medal while the Suns don't win a game.
TAB Sportsbet's Adam Hamilton pointed out that while Ablett had polled well in a bottom team - he polled 23 votes last year, a tally that would often win the medal - this still put him 11 votes shy of Dane Swan, who polled a record 34 votes. He was equal sixth, in what was high polling year for the high performance mids.
The Suns are more likely to win a game than not, though of their remaining 10 games, they would likely start favourites in only one - versus Greater Western Sydney on the Gold Coast in round 20 - though there are a couple of others that shape as winnable.
But the Ablett Brownlow question is more one about how the umpires will view those 40 disposal games. If he were to gain even just two votes in all of them, with another couple of one vote games, he would have a dozen votes to this point, with 10 games remaining.
Last year, Ablett polled three votes in four matches, two of which were won by the Suns. He pulled two votes on a further three occasions. This suggests those 40-plus games will see him poll, though most pundits felt he was bested by direct opponent Dale Thomas in that astonishing 53 disposal effort against Collingwood.
''The difficulty is - can he win it with a lot of twos [votes]?'' asked Hamilton.
In Ablett's favour is the fact that other leading contenders have been injured, in particular Scott Pendlebury, who will miss his second game this Saturday and most likely will not play in round 14 against Fremantle; the bookies have downgraded Collingwood's smooth operator accordingly - his odds have blown out to $9.
While Bobby Skilton won his three Brownlows in teams that were well outside of the finals and there was once an established pattern of medallists from mediocre teams, the odds are heavily stacked in favour of players from winning sides over the past 25 years - no player has taken ''Charlie'' in a team that missed the finals over the past dozen years (Shane Crawford in 1999).
Skilton, who won his second Brownlow in a Swans side that won four of 18 games in 1963, rejected the notion that he was comparable to Ablett. ''It's a little bit overrated how bad our side was,'' said Skilton, noting that he played with greats such as Ron Clegg, Max Papley and Peter Bedford.
''I was not in the same situation as Gary Ablett. This is a new club starting off and he knew what he was getting into.''
Skilton said he admired Ablett's capacity to keep performing week in, week out but his bottom line was that ''it's a big advantage to be in a team that's winning''.
We don't yet know who might emerge from the midfield pack. The likes of Patrick Dangerfield and Trent Cotchin shape as potential high pollers, but unlike Ablett, they are somewhat unknown quantities on Brownlow night.
While history is against him, so are taggers, the lack of seasoned support and everything else.