JACK Steven does not need to tell the public how or why he was forced to check himself into hospital with a stab wound to the chest.
The details can stay private.
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But, until the AFL integrity department fully investigates – inclusive of Steven being extensively interviewed - the reasons behind the incident which led the 30-year-old to the emergency department of a hospital at 1am two Sundays ago, he simply cannot be allowed to play football.
Steven is receiving immense support from coaches and teammates at his current club Geelong, the team he joined late last year, as well as those from St Kilda, where he won four best and fairests in 11 seasons.
He is loved across the board by people at those two clubs.
Parts of Steven's life journey have been made difficult through an ongoing battle with mental health.
Cats coach Chris Scott aggressively defended Steven last week.
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"I think it’s wrong that some people have jumped the gun and said this is an AFL integrity matter and somehow Jack has a case to answer before he’s allowed to play footy again," said Scott.
"That’s assuming the worst in people. Unless you have some information that I don’t have, you’re probably wrong in making that assumption. We’d like to know the circumstances, only so we can help him so he can help us. Those two things go together."
Scott would consider losing an arm over being forced to publicly question one of his players, a highly admirable quality of his since he started coaching the Cats in late 2010.
His comments are misplaced, though. Wanting clarity is not an assumption of the worst in Steven. And people at other football clubs have the right to need to be reassured that Steven has done nothing to contravene the right to play AFL.
Which is what Scott would want if it was Player X from Club Y.
And when Scott also said last week that, "I get the feeling that some people want to roll some of the previous problems that Jack has had into this current situation and I would caution against that; they are two separate issues," it was obviously an attempt to distance the past from anything to do with the now, but in so doing, it actually was inviting people to delve deeper into what actually happened.
Again, Scott is entitled to defend his player.
But so too is the remainder of the competition in wanting to know exactly why – or at least wanting to be assured by the game's controlling body that there is no possibility of an integrity breach – that a 30-year-old needed to check himself into a hospital at 1am on a Sunday with a stab wound in his chest.
Steven was initially reluctant to tell anyone what happened two weekends ago. He has reasons for that being the case, and again, that may be OK. He has since spoken to police.
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Regardless of how Victoria Police concludes its investigation, the AFL must make its own determination. It runs the game, and is therefore responsible for the people under its watch.
The AFL cannot risk being exposed to not knowing exactly actually happened.
Again, the AFL's findings don't need to be made public, if those findings are of a nature which doesn't impact industry integrity.
But if Steven is to be considered for selection for Geelong's 2020 season resumption match against Hawthorn on Friday June 12, or any match thereafter, the AFL has to put its name to it being comfortable with that being the case.