FOR a man who has carved an extraordinary career out of public talking, words have always caused the biggest problems for Eddie McGuire.
It was his use last week of one very simple one - "proud" - which ultimately brought an end to a 23-year tenure as Collingwood Football Club president.
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It was a word which had no place and zero context at a media conference called by the Magpies to address damning findings, including "systemic racism", contained in an independently commissioned report titled Do Better.
While McGuire late Tuesday afternoon again attempted to defend his use of the word as part of his farewell speech as Magpies president, his use of it fully galvanised people both outside his own club but more pertinently some within it to enforce an immediate exit as Collingwood boss.
In the end, his resignation, effective immediately and driven to happen by fellow directors as hard as any outside force, was the only option he and Collingwood had. So toxic had McGuire's presence at Collingwood become, that not one of the 18 recommendations to emerge from the Do Better report could properly be dealt with while he was sitting at the head of the board.
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Collingwood is in an unmitigated mess right now. The findings of the Do Better report were alarming, made worse by the club failing to address the matter publicly until it lost all control of the content when it was leaked early last week.
The club may have had intentions of publicly owning this problem, but allowing it to be consumed by the public before it had any form of response ready to go was as catastrophic in its handling, in a business sense, as the 2020 Trade Period where Adam Treloar and Jaidyn Stephenson were treated appallingly and moved out of the club.
Victims of a need to dump salary - again, and as with the Do Better report, a problem entirely of its own doing - the two contracted players were left shattered as they came to realise relationships with key people at the club weren't as they had been led to believe.
Collingwood's public handling of that Trade Period reeked of arrogance. It also refused to properly reveal to those players why it needed to exit them and even dared attempt to seed into a media narrative that it was in Treloar's best interests to head to south-east Queensland in order to be with his partner.
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Collingwood under McGuire was once the industry benchmark for management and message controlling. And on the occasions where situations went wrong, they could often be made right or at least OK.
But it ceased such acclaim in 2013 with McGuire's words relating to Adam Goodes. Not one other person associated with football could have survived that situation.
Magpies CEO Mark Anderson, McGuire and Collingwood board members Jodie Sizer and Peter Murphy fronted the media last week to address the Do Better report in a belated attempt to own the massive problem confirmed in its pages.
AFL STATEMENT Commission Chairman on Eddie resignation
Had McGuire not used the "proud" word, it might have succeeded and he might have been able to live out his desire of staying in charge until the end of the year.
Over time, as McGuire and others reflect on his largely incredible and successful 23 years of running Collingwood, the word 'proud' will fit very neatly over a countless array of good achieved under his watch.
>> READ THE FULL 'DO BETTER' REPORT Download the PDF here
McGuire fully deserves for that to be the case, just as his beloved football club too deserves a new leader right now.