Kevin Sheedy has dragged Steve Smith and David Warner into the ongoing debate about James Hird.
Four-time Bombers premiership coach Sheedy feels Hird has had enough punishment and would do well if given the chance to coach in the AFL again.
Sheedy’s comments will re-open the wounds of the Essendon supplements debacle, which ultimately cost Hird his job as senior coach at the club.
The saga took a massive toll on the Brownlow Medallist and he spent time two years ago in a mental health facility.
“I’m not blaming anyone, but there is no way known he would have wished for what happened,” Sheedy told the Herald Sun.
“And he has said sorry. How many times do you have to say sorry?
“I know people will jump at shadows because of what happened and that’s unfortunate.
“But he is one of the most intelligent football thinkers I’ve met.
“I think he is prime, ready to coach at an AFL club (again).”
Cricketers ‘worse than Hird’
Sheedy compared the supplements saga to cricket’s ball-tampering scandal, saying he felt the actions of Smith, Warner and Cameron Bancroft were worse because there was hard and fast evidence that they were guilty.
“I actually think they (cricketers) were worse than Hird,” Sheedy said.
“Every player in the AFL has supplements, it is yet to be proven ever that they were the wrong supplements because no one knows.
“We know there was actual sandpaper in their hand, don’t we? That’s correct isn’t it?
“I don’t want to be judge on those boys, because they’ve moved on, but it’s like me — I hit people (on the field) when I played, and I shouldn’t have done it, but I did, and coaching made me a better person for it.”
‘Never been a positive drugs test’
Sheedy is also certain to cause a stir among anti-doping critics with his assessment of the Essendon saga.
“I hate to say it again but there has never been a positive drugs test,” he said.
The AFL booted Essendon out of the 2013 finals and banned Hird for 12 months, among other punishments, over the supplements scandal.
Hird returned as Essendon coach, but resigned during the 2015 season.
Eventually, 34 current and past Essendon players served WADA-imposed doping bans that gutted the club in 2016.
Hird, who won the 2000 Norm Smith Medal, presented the award at the 2017 grand final.
He was linked to a potential opposition analysis role last March at Fremantle, but it did not happen.
Mixed reaction to Sheedy’s comments
The controversial comments immediately caused a stir among fans.
I'm sorry Sheedy but in no way is what Warner and Smith did worse than Hird! Hird's cheating was sustained, potentially put lives in danger and at no point has he claimed responsibility! #ridiculous #afl #cricket #sandpapergate #drugsscandal
— 🏏🏑🏉RP Reynolds🎸📽🖋 (@ThatAllUGot) February 18, 2019
ahhh the afl old boys club at it again!! how about someone who has earned it and will respect the privilege of coaching at afl level get the gig ! Hird undertook systematic doping of this team with no regard for there short or long term health effects #nope #yourdone
— carbs (@carbs_28) February 18, 2019
He just shouldn't imo, it wouldn't be a great environment with all the conjecture and media scrutiny. I think James has moved on, others should too
— Simon (@Knight_Ryders) February 18, 2019
No he shouldn’t be
— Ingers (@tucky017) February 18, 2019
No, no, no. He should never have been given the job in the first place. He wasn't ready to coach and nearly destroyed the club. Keep your distance and let the bombers rebuild back to the way before hird took over.
— Armo (@armomelb) February 18, 2019
Should never be given the responsibility of leading a group of men again Completely self centred and never took responsibility for any part of the Essendon saga Papers should and would be stamped
— Darren Symes (@SymesDarren) February 18, 2019
Worked out so well last time… How many round 1 picks did Essendon end up with?
— Rick Gainsmith (@RickGainsmith) February 18, 2019
Unless he is prepared to reveal what was injected into his players, Hird shouldn't even be allowed near ANY sporting club.
— Steve (@Boofmeister) February 18, 2019