IN THESE unknown, stressful times, people are second-guessing themselves every minute. We at AFL.com.au certainly have been.

This column, Damian Barrett's Sliding Doors, has been around for nine years. Every Friday in a footy season, it attempts to push boundaries, take the you-know-what out of people, ourselves and situations, square up with certain individuals and clubs, and try not to take too seriously the stuff which traditionally dominates the football cycle.

There has been much deliberation in the past month as to whether to actually publish Sliding Doors this season.

In keeping with the AFL players and AFL itself opting to push ahead in the early phases of the season, we've asked Damo to give it a go. And like the players, he, and we, will see how it goes.

So what's he saying about your club? What's he saying about the AFL? Check it out.

Adelaide Crows

IF ...

there's a player in the off-season that I've become genuinely intrigued about, and want to see succeed to the highest levels ...

THEN ...

it's Darcy Fogarty. Every time you ask a Crows person how he's tracking, their faces break out in smile. They love him.

THE COACH
12:02 Mins
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Pull your heads in, Crows: Another Adelaide camp goes 'haywire'

Ross Lyon on ANOTHER 'misstep' for the Crows, the Eagles getting caught out, and Kochie v Malthouse

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Brisbane Lions

IF ...

the top two finish to 2019 was outstanding ...

THEN ...

the straight sets, home finals exit, from the premiership race - as gallant and maybe even unlucky as it was – meant the season was an unfulfilled one. Love how they play the game, the Lions under Fagan, but it's a long way back.

14:10 Mins
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Toe to toe with Damo: Andrews on toughest opponents, why he's called 'Dad'

Harris Andrews sits down with Damian Barrett to discuss the players he's studied for countless hours, his interesting nickname, and more

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Carlton

IF ...

the Blues dare to think they've made progress on the back of Thursday's 24-point loss to reigning premier Richmond ... 

THEN ...

stop it. Immediately. Yes, there were injuries to key players and the comeback was OK. But that's all it was, OK. And when the game was there to be won, it was the Blues of 2019, and '18, and '17, and '16, and '15, and …

00:36 Mins
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Sublime skill from exciting Carlton recruit

Jack Martin offers a glimpse of why he is highly rated by those in navy blue

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Collingwood

IF ...

Jaidyn Stephenson is an emergency ... 

THEN ...

the Pies have a ridiculous array of talent from which to choose. Amid all the shocks of the past month, this one actually registered prominently.

Essendon

IF ...

the Bombers can hang tough in the early matches ...

THEN ...

when the season gets to resume after the seemingly inevitable delay, the Bombers should be the big beneficiaries as Heppell, Hooker and maybe even big Joe return.

12:31 Mins
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Toe to toe with Damo: Hurley on his banged-up body, retirement date

Michael Hurley sits down with Damian Barrett to discuss how much longer his body can hold up, returning to the leadership group, and more

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Fremantle

IF ...

the glass is half empty ...

THEN ...

it's bottom three. If the glass is half full, and with my long-time clear favourite player in the comp – Walters – as well as Fyfe, on the list, then it's top eight. New coach Justin Longmuir actually has a bit to work with.

08:37 Mins
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Toe to toe with Damo: When Sonny thought he was done

Michael Walters sits down with Damian Barrett to discuss the lightbulb moment that turned his career around, thriving in big moments, and more

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Geelong Cats

IF ...

the ruck position was a headache last year ...

THEN ...

it's already a throbbing migraine in 2020.

01:08 Mins
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How long does it take to get over a prelim loss?

In this excerpt from the In the Game podcast, Geelong coach Chris Scott tells Damian Barrett why he's 'not a big believer that you can make amends for lost opportunity'

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Gold Coast Suns

IF ...

it might seem demoralising for the numbers one and two picks in last year's national draft to make their debuts in a spectator-less stadium ...

THEN ...

Rowell and Anderson won't care one bit when they retire 15 years down the track. It will just be a great chapter in their books. Highly excited to see them play against Port Adelaide in Saturday.

GWS Giants

IF ...

most clubs lost their reigning best-and-fairest winner on the eve of the season ...

THEN ...

it would be a state of panic. In this star-studded outfit, the Taranto loss is a big out, but far from catastrophic. 

00:40 Mins
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Marsh: Taranto's day is done

Giant Tim Taranto suffers a dislocated shoulder in an early ruck contest

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Hawthorn

IF ...

you, like me, heard Clarko last week on SEN sooking it up about the game's current defensive trends ...

THEN ...

you, like me, would've nearly ordered the violin. Upon reflection, it was nothing more than a massive sook and diversionary tactic from the genius coach who actually introduced to the game the suffocating shut-down style which he knew every other coach would play follow-the-leader on. Give us a spell, Clarko. 

Melbourne

IF ...

the stock market has crashed these past few weeks ...

THEN ...

here's the speculative stock to get us all back on track: Kysaiah Pickett. Can't wait to see him play in the big time. Hopefully he makes the final cut, and plays this Sunday in Perth.

00:32 Mins
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Marsh: High pick Pickett plucks his first highlight

Young gun Kysaiah Pickett launches onto the scene with a fantastic goal for the Demons

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North Melbourne

IF ...

Tarryn Thomas isn't comfortably settled among the best two-season talents in the comp by the end of 2020 ...

THEN ...

I'll never again give an opinion on young players.

00:41 Mins
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Marsh: A little bit of magic from rising Roos star

Tarryn Thomas shows his slick skills to kick an early goal for the Roos

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Port Adelaide

IF ...

there's a few boring coaches out there right now ...

THEN ...

Ken Hinkley ain't one of 'em. He's a beautiful point of difference. Long live Ken!

Richmond

IF ...

any team is equipped for the crazy ride that lies ahead in 2020 ...

THEN ...

it is this one. Pure professionalism on Thursday night against Carlton. That's what the Tigers do, in all situations.

07:37 Mins
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Full post-match R1: Tigers

Watch Richmond's press conference after round one's match against Carlton

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St Kilda

IF ...

you've been round long enough to remember the excitement of Nathan Buckley making a "delayed" AFL debut in 1993 ...

THEN ...

the hype around Max King playing his first game is borderline similar. And he only needs to be 75 per cent as good to be an all-time great. No pressure, Max!

00:59 Mins
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They could have picked Vossy: Why Ratts says he's lucky

In this excerpt from the In The Game podcast, St Kilda coach Brett Ratten explains why he's grateful to receive a second chance

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Sydney Swans

IF ...

seemingly everyone in the footy world is writing off this team ...

THEN ...

I'm not. Last year was not as bad as it appeared. Tipping a return to the finals.

05:24 Mins
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The Deadliest: Lance Franklin highlights

Is Buddy the greatest Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander player? AFL.com.au/deadliest

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West Coast Eagles

IF ...

you take a close look at the selected Eagles team to play the Demons on Sunday.

THEN ...

it's scarily good. And now Kelly is part of it. Only a disaster with injuries can stop it finishing top four.

Western Bulldogs

IF ...

IF Bailey Smith couldn't finish top three in the 2019 Rising Star award ...

THEN ...

it was a legitimately hot crop. By the end of 2020, and as good as Rozee, Walsh, Blakey, Stack, Thomas and Clark clearly were last year, this guy might be the standout. (And I - until now secretly - ABSOLUTELY love the mullet).

AND THIS ONE'S FOR THE AFL

IF ...

you've read this column over the years ...

THEN ...

you'd know there's normally a spray coming for the AFL here. Not today. Its ability to wade through the past 10 days of turmoil and order the start of the 2020 season was incredible. The easy decision was to do as everyone else was doing: cease play. It took genuine courage to go the other way. It's a fanciful thought given what we all know is coming, but what if AFL games somehow managed to keep running through this carnage? At least for a few weeks, anyway. Somebody had to try to buck the controlled trend. Gillon McLachlan did. No matter what happens from here, the AFL has given hope, when no one and nothing else, did, or even tried to.

07:27 Mins
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Steve Hocking on shorter quarters, 17 rounds and more

The AFL's footy boss, Steve Hocking, joins Damian Barrett to discuss the new-look 2020 season ahead of the season-opener

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