AFL

COMMENT

Why there is no problem with Essendon recruiting Ryan Crowley

Let us test the case against Ryan Crowley and Essendon for suspect arguments.

Ryan Crowley a Bomber

Former Fremantle Docker Ryan Crowley signs with the Essendon Bombers. Vision: Bomber TV

1. He's a drug cheat? No, he is a player who was suspended for taking a specified substance. That suspension has expired. He is free to play football again. If you disagree with that, then you must also have disagreed with Collingwood's signing of Andrew Krakouer in 2011 after a jail term. You must have disagreed that Ben Cousins was allowed to play football again after being stood down by the AFL for 12 months.

Strictly speaking, you must disagree with the return of any banned player as long as the stigma of his offence remains. You must have demurred that Luke Hodge captained Hawthorn to the premiership again last season after serving a late-season two-week suspension for a dangerous bump on Chad Wingard.

Ryan Crowley
Ryan Crowley Photo: Essendon FC

Crucially, you must hold not only that Crowley cannot play for Essendon, but nor can any of the other banned 12 Bombers once their suspensions are up, nor the five ex-Bombers for their new clubs. No justice system in the world, sporting or civil, works that way. You lost points for your last traffic offence, but after a time, you got them back.

Test result: negative.

2. It's a bad look, for the club and competition. But is that not what we the football constituency condemned the AFL for in the case of the Essendon 34, for concentrating on image? On "the optics"? Even the CAS judgment had a crack. The future of Essendon now is about substance, if that word may be used, and substance will be proved by a sustained whole-of-club mission, not one instance of image consciousness. If image was so important, why was there not an outcry about the appointment of John Worsfold as coach? He's a pharmacist.

Test result: negative.

3. Crowley's an irritating footballer. So is Hayden Ballantyne. So, depending on who you ask, is Joel Selwood, and Buddy Franklin, and Brent Harvey. But an irritant is not a banned substance, and "who you ask" is not burden of proof. Fortunately.

Test result: negative.

4. Twitter says so. Presently, that is about as sophisticated as the anti-Crowley argument runs. "Twitter has lit up." "Crowley's gone viral." Not for the first or last time, that cesspit of banality, ill-will, ignorance, provocation, menace, schadenfreude and generally unfocused anger is being allowed to set the agenda. We're better than that, or should be.

Test result: negative.

Executive summary: Crowley has done his time, and is eligible to play and Essendon is free to pick him

Player Crowley, you are free to resume.

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