Even though he's been cleared of wrongdoing in his most recent infraction, Brendan Fevola had tried to walk too fine a line for too long without falling off. And unsurprisingly, for someone so regularly affected by intoxicants, he didn't fall but reel from the straight and narrow to find himself now without a club for 2011 and perhaps approaching the AFL scrapheap for good.
As we said in January, he's far too talented to be thrown for good to the wolves of fortune, but at present he's so fractured that there remains too few recognisable pieces to allow his management to being the process of rebuilding. So often one cannot make lasting change until they hit rock bottom. For a man with as apparently little to his life as Fevola, he probably can't get any lower. There's little coincidence that his longest trouble-free period was during the time he abstained from alcohol during his then-wife's pregnancy and a similar decision would seem to be the first step in rehabilitating both his career and his life. Former NBA star and Original Dream Team member Chris Mullin forswore drinking after his second year in the leage after running into problems once too often and turned an potential also-ran career into a one possibly destined for the Hall of Fame. The troubled forward should take heed.
Where next, though? The VFL would melt down should one of the second-tier clubs manage to land Fev; the chances of his succeeding in the WAFL or SANFL is unlikely - a bagful of goals perhaps not worth the headache. The NFL, perhaps? Australia's greatest-ever NFL player, Darren Bennett recently said that the North American league would have no interest in such a wild chile as Fevola - it only bears imagining what Fevola would do in a party city like New York or San Francisco if his celebratory style was too much for Brisbane to handle. As is always the case with him, it's not his talent questioned but his application. Unable to cope with the solitary lifestyle in Queensland, fears exist that he would self-destruct, supernova-style, if allowed free reign and a salary in excess of seven figures. With a lockout looming in the NFL as well, any chances of him securing a career as a punter are unlikely.
A few years ago there was the much-publicised case of Carlton's Lawrence Angwin and Karl Norman turning up to training still affected by disco biscuits from the night before. Popular opinion had one, the other or both suffering from either ADD or ADHD. All the signs point to Fevola suffering the same condition - be it very difficult to diagnose from such a great distance and without personal interaction. His lifestyle will no doubt change - it will have to - as match payments turn from five-figure to low four-figure sums at best. With his alleged gambling debts, Fev his not backed himself into a corner but walked either willingly or been unable to control his direction of travel.
We can only hope for Brendan Fevola's sake that his AFL career is not over - there's every chance that Kevin Sheedy will be his saviour at Greater Western Sydney - but his tale is ending as Carlton expected. His days of clowning now won't be met with resignation but with sadness.