Hird’s toughest test ahead with Bombers
YOU could never say James Hird wasn't a survivor.
Though he had red and black blood running through his veins, with his father Allan Jnr and grandfather Allan Snr both playing for the club, Hird was hardly a Bombers' favourite son in his early years.
Essendon left it until its last pick in the 1990 national draft (No.79 overall) to select him from the ACT after he had battled a serious hip injury.
And then a year later the club had voted to delist him - ending one of the great playing careers before it had even begun at senior level - until he managed to convince then senior coach Kevin Sheedy to keep him.
Two premierships, one Brownlow Medal, one Norm Smith Medal, five best-and-fairest awards, and being chosen by a panel at No.3 in the 'Champions of Essendon' roll call though was testament to Hird's never-say-die attitude.
But he's now in a fight on two fronts he's losing more and more by the week - one for his position as coach of Essendon and one for his reputation among the AFL community.
Hawk Sam Mitchell was right to condemn his own provocative jab jibe during the clash at the MCG on Saturday.
It was harmless, but, as he said, it wasn't a great "look".
However, while he accepted Mitchell's apology, Hird's response by using the words "naive and idiotic" and "media propaganda" certainly raised eyebrows.
Not sure if the propaganda he was referring to was the reporting that a club-own investigation had found that players had been treated like guinea pigs.
And you reckon believing his involvement in the Essendon supplements saga that is still hanging over its head wouldn't have a detrimental effect on the standing of his club, both on and off the field, may have been a little naïve?
Just as you could never question Hird's fighting spirit, you could never question his love of the Bombers - he has spoken ad nauseum about it in recent times. But you can question whether he has got their best interests at heart.
Hird did his time for helping bring the game into disrepute - a 12-month ban - though there are certainly those in higher places who had wished he'd fallen on his sword then.
He had instead, perhaps selfishly, hoped for the fairytale finish - for him to return and lead his club to glory.
But, while he's not afraid to take his battles into court these days, there won't be a thing any lawyer or judge can do to save him if Essendon's position on the ladder (14th) doesn't improve significantly over the next year or so before his contract expires at the end of 2016.
The Bombers have lost seven of their past eight games, and won't be picking up the pace anytime soon with their slow, ageing midfield.
There's nothing idiotic about the prospect of a fresh start for the club and Hird stepping away to regain lost respect.