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This next sentence is difficult to write because Mitchell Pearce is a good man who – let's face it – has been the game's preferred punching bag because he never made the NSW halfback jumper his own.
Mitchell Pearce and his actions
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Mitchell Pearce and his actions
Fairfax's Andrew Webster shares his opinion on the Mitchell Pearce video.
The Roosters have no choice: they have to sack him. Time to let him go, as much for his sake as theirs.
Mitchell Pearce is a good man. The sober Mitchell Pearce.
The other one needs to join the club in which you can't drink alcohol. Not one, because one is too many and one more is never enough. There's no shame in it. It's a big club.
On Thursday morning, I stood in line at a Surry Hills cafe waiting for a coffee.
Two men stood next to me, thumbing The Sydney Morning Herald, snickering at the front and back page stories about the Roosters captain and his now-infamous Australia Day rampage that was cunningly captured on a man's camera phone.
Imagine if they saw the pages of The Daily Telegraph, which ran a full-page, grainy image of a shirtless Pearce simulating intercourse with a "small white poodle-cross"?
It's just another image to hang on the wall in Rugby League's Gallery of Modern Shame. There's barely any space left.
As players from other codes love to say: "There's drunk – and then there's rugby league drunk".
The Roosters are adamant they haven't made up their mind about what sanctions the 26-year-old will face. He's been stood down pending an investigation.
Chairman Nick Politis will seek counsel from those closest to him, especially the likes of David Gyngell and Steggles boss and board member John Camilleri, before deciding Pearce's fate.
Normally, when these episodes happen – and not for the first time involving Pearce – the club will privately roll out explanations for the player's behaviour. Yeah, he stuffed up but …
For the first time, the Roosters aren't making those noises about Pearce. They are more concerned about his issues with alcohol. Make no mistake: rehab is being considered.
Initially, though, the club pushed the line that his drinking session on a boat on Sydney Harbour with his teammates was his first dalliance with alcohol in about six weeks.
This wildly conflicts with those who saw him drinking in a Double Bay nightclub a fortnight ago with other Roosters players.
On the night of Australia Day, Pearce and a handful of teammates kept drinking at a prominent Double Bay pub, the Royal Oak, after their boat returned to shore.
It's understood that Pearce was put in a cab by a club official, who gave him a Cabcharge card, but instead of going home he whipped around the block and then met up with new recruits Dale Copley and Jayden Nikorima and headed to the Hotel Bondi.
That in itself is deeply troubling. The captain sneaks around a club official's back to lead two young, fresh-faced players down the path? Not cool.
Soon after, they are all back at an apartment in Redfern with a group of women they have recently met. Events escalate and suddenly Pearce is trying to kiss one girl before moving on to her puppy dog. All three are eventually turfed out.
The fact the man holding the camera kept asking for Pearce's name suggests he had nefarious motives from the beginning.
Within 24 hours, the video was being shopped around by "global online digital media exchange" Diimex, which is the same mob that sold the images of John Singleton's drunken rampage at Kingsley's Steak and Crabhouse in Woolloomooloo last May.
Channel Nine and the Telegraph quickly snapped up the Pearce footage. The Telegraph denied reports from this column it had paid $40,000 – a figure suggested by the Roosters – but would not clarify exactly how much was paid.
For the record, Fairfax Media has since paid a much smaller sum for the Pearce video.
The Roosters suspect Pearce has fallen headfirst into a classic honeytrap, drawing comparisons to the recent plight of Collingwood players who were lured into exchanging nude images via private message on Instagram only to find themselves splashed all over Woman's Day.
Whoever it was in that apartment who captured the video before on-selling it should hang their head in shame. Spend the money wisely. Maybe use it to buy a conscience.
Yet in no way does the selling of the footage absolve Pearce of blame.
Questions have also been asked about whether Roosters players should've been on a boat on the harbour sinking beers in the first place. The club knew about the get-together, but didn't pay for the boat.
In hindsight, it should've knocked the idea on the head, or at least scheduled in a training session for the next morning.
But the club cannot be held totally responsible for the actions of its players, especially its captain.
Pearce is 26. He has played more than 200 games of first grade, and this is supposed to be his 10th season.
The turning point in his career supposedly came in May 2014, when he was arrested in Kings Cross following the "Girl in the yellow dress" episode. (Channel Nine paid for footage of that one, too).
He kept turning his career around, being named captain of his club around this time last year before reclaiming his NSW jumper.
Pearce – like most footballers – has often lamented that he is no different to any other twentysomething bloke entitled to a good time.
Others will argue that former players, stretching back decades, would never have survived in the modern era.
And was there really a victim in all of this? The girl? The dog?
Not really. Not compared with the serious matters involving many players that have appeared before the courts in the past.
Yet none of this matters. A life of sporting stardom comes with as many traps as it does trimmings.
Don't like it? Don't play. Become a slob on the sidelines like the rest of us.
What stuns is how many people – from players, officials, fans – don't understand this.
ARL Commission chairman John Grant wanted the big chair after Dave Smith left the building. Let's see how he handles this one. It's a significant test for the game's leader.
Perhaps the most damning indication of the anger concerning Pearce's behaviour comes from Roosters fans themselves.
Co-hosting the Big Sports Breakfast on Sky Sports Radio with Terry Kennedy on Thursday morning was enlightening.
Each Roosters fan who called wanted Pearce's contract torn up. One father said he'd just bought Pearce's Rooster jumper for his nine-year-old son. Now he's sending it back.
The sober Mitchell Pearce is a good man.
Those who know him best realise he's struggled with several issues, from being in the public spotlight from a young age to being the son of a legend. Wayne Pearce gave up alcohol when he was a teenager and became the code's pin-up teetotaller.
Pearce needs a change and that starts with a departure from the Roosters, as much as Politis, coach Trent Robinson and his teammates will throw their arms around him as he gets through this latest episode.
He still has a place in the game. It's just alcohol can no longer come along for the ride.
"Then I checked his [Bernard Tomic's] ranking. I didn't know his ranking was as high as it was. That was my bad." – Even when he's wrong, Roger Federer is so right.
Federer celebrates beating Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic at the Australian Open on Tuesday. Photo: Getty Images
In November, an injured Peyton Manning was hooked against Kansas City. Many thought it was the end for the 39-year-old NFL superstar. Now? Now, he's taken the Denver Broncos to Super Bowl 50 against the Carolina Panthers. "Hey, listen, this might be my last rodeo. So, it sure has been a pleasure," he says.
Chairman of selectors Rod Marsh channelled Abe Simpson when explaining why Usman Khawaja didn't make the one-day squad to play New Zealand. His comment that Khawaja would now "know how Shaun Marsh felt" suggested an agenda. Not cool.
It's a big weekend for … Virat Kohli, who is the most watchable cricketer going around, whether it's sledging to batting. India plays Australia in the second T20 international on Friday at the MCG.
It's an even bigger weekend for … Andy Murray, who has shrugged off a tournament of personal drama to set up a semi-final showdown with Milos Raonic at the Australian Open.