Wednesday, January 5, 2011

How do you solve a problem like Fevola?

Language warning - this post contains potty-mouth quotes from a TV series.

At the moment, my wife and I are watching "The Wire" on DVD and last night we viewed the episode where the ostensible hero Jimmy McNulty is rescued from the Baltimore Police Department Marine Unit at the request of his colleagues Lester Freamon & Bunk Moreland. Moreland summed it up thus: "Thing is ... that is Jimmy McNulty when he ain't policing: a picture postcard of a drunken, self-destructive fuck-up. And when he is policing, he's pretty much the same motherfucker, but on a good case, right out in front of the pack. And that's as close as the man comes to being right".

And they could just be talking about Brendan Fevola. To say Fevola has issues is like saying Cookie Monster has problems with baked goods. Always an enfant terrible, over the past few years his misdemeanours have gone from bad to worse: from the alcohol-fuelled Brownlow Medal Street Talk where he flapped the unflappable Chris Judd; to his dalliances with Bingle. And it led to this - arrested by Queensland police for being drunk and disorderly in the Valley.

There's a good chance, after all he's been through, that Brendan Fevola is approaching the bottom of the emotional trough. Because his house has crumbled around his ears, he's got nearly nothing left in the tank to stop him doing stupid stuff because alcohol and being a lout is all he has left. It's a horrible statement to make about a guy who only two years ago earned his near-million dollar-per contract but his last year and half hasn't been the stuff of nightmares but of despair. While football afficionados salivated over the prospect of Fevola and Jonathon BROWN! (sorry, force of habit) reproducing the magic of forward tandems past, Fevola was neither healthy or motivated.

Brisbane have investigated voiding his contract in the past and there should be no surprsies that they've done so. Firstly because they're haemmorhaging money - Fev's contract can be directly linked to them losing Michael Rischitelli to the Gold Coast Suns this offseason - and secondly, because they'd really like him to just go away and avoid the controversy and the crowded forward line where neither key guy has space to operate. As much as footy prizes conformity and the intangibles of team play, Fevola now stands out as an individual talent in a game where they aren't valued as highly as in days past.

Fev's pink slip has been signed and sitting in the CEO's drawer for some time now, especially after he was accused of exposing himself to a young Brisbane mother. What's most unfortunate though is that the human cost of firing Fevola is too great to risk. As we've said, Brendan Fevola has issues and as such becomes an even greater risk to himself should he be cut loose.

If Fevola is sacked - and Brisbane has plenty of good reasons to want this to happen, even if it is unlikely - then the train wreck that is Fevola's private life suddenly becomes the only thing in his existence and he becomes less likely and less able to get high-level help which, from the outside, he desperately needs. While he has value on the football field - either trade value, on-field currency or as a forward who draws the opposition's better defenders - then he's going to receive the best treatment and help from the Lions organisation. While he can help the Lions, the Lions will help him. Should he be released, there's the likelihood that he will self-destruct and end up following the path of Ronnie Wearmouth - silly talent, sillier head, tragic story. Without the value that he holds to the Lions and in debt to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars (allegedly), then it's feasible that Brendan Fevola feels the best way to pull himself together is to do what he knows: drink, and be a lout. The vicious circle becomes apparent and suddenly the issue isn't Fevola's life in footy, but his life.

There may well be hope for the boy from Narre Warren though in the unlikely form of another eastern suburbs boy, Travis Tuck. Tuck in early 2009 looked a potential Hawthorn captain and a walk-up start for the Hawks. Long touted as the most talented of the Tucks, he suffered a private struggle with depression, followed by issues with drugs and, unfortunately, a public overdose. Hawks' chairman Jeff Kennett - also heavily involved in the National Depression Iniative Beyond Blue - insisted that the club retain Tuck's services because it would be best for his mental health; not only was it a laudable decision but it was the right one. Whether or not Brisbane feels it owes the same courtesy to Fevola is unclear.

But there's very little disputing that when Brendan Fevola isn't playing footy, to quote directly, he is a picture postcard of a drunken, self-destructive fuck-up. And when he is playing football, he's pretty much the same motherfucker, but an outstanding forward, right out in front of the pack. And -unfortunately at the moment, it seems that's as close as the man comes to being right.

Poster's recommendation: Go out and watch The Wire. It's fantastic.

No comments:

Post a Comment