In footy there's flying the flag and protecting your teammates, and then there's going too far and breaking the law - as Ali Fahour did.
The former AFL diversity manager crossed a line when he hit Dale Saddington in the face with a "thumping" punch during a suburban Melbourne game in July.
Fahour, 34, was charged by police and later pleaded guilty to recklessly causing injury.
The punch cost Fahour his executive job at the AFL and he was effectively banned for life from the game he had played since he was five.
But he was given a reprieve in court on Thursday, when he was spared a criminal conviction over the incident.
Magistrate Carolyn Burnside made the decision after considering Fahour's good character.
"You have shown real generosity towards marginalised groups in our community," she told Fahour in Heidelberg Magistrates Court.
"You have been a person of integrity and very good character, with a strong reputation for your leadership in the community.
"That is exceptional."
Fahour was given a two-year community corrections order and told to pay $5000 to Disability Sports Australia, as well as take an anger management course.
Footage of the punch at Whittlesea was played in court, showing Fahour running up to Mr Saddington during a scuffle involving a number of players.
Mr Saddington was knocked out and the contracted Whittlesea player has not returned to the field.
"It was an unguarded moment when you delivered a thumping blow to a young man," Ms Burnside said.
"There is no place for this unbridled aggression."
Fahour said he was deeply sorry to Mr Saddington and his family for the pain and difficulty he caused.
"No one should ever have to go to the footy and expect that to happen," he said in court.
"To Dale's family, I apologise again, and I hope one day they will accept it."
Fahour produced glowing character references from former Essendon star Adam Ramanauskas, AFL great Mark Williams and several community leaders.
Ramanauskus believed Fahour's actions may have come after a "build up of tensions" that can occur in a game of football.
But the magistrate said it was important players at all levels knew there was a clear line between footballing acts and criminal behaviour.
"Long gone are the days when what happened on the football field stayed on the football field," Ms Burnside said.
"Young boys and girls ought not be risking life and limb to play this great game."
Fahour, who played for West Preston-Lakeside, was suspended by the Northern Football League for 14 games over the punch.
It triggered an automatic life ban, however he can apply to the league to have it lifted.