THERE is not one facet of the AFL industry which could boast of a 100 per cent strike rate on walking the exact same way as the talking.
Clubs, officials, coaches, players, media and fan groups have all at times left themselves open to observations of hypocrisy, or failing to properly act out oft-spoken words.
Observing the actions in the past week of people and groups, as the game dealt with Crow Taylor Walker's disgraceful racist comment about SANFL player Robbie Young, has been an interesting exercise.
Adelaide coach Matthew Nicks spoke perfectly in publicly addressing the matter last Friday. Another Crows official, director Mark Ricciuto, didn't.
"This is a good lesson for everyone because there's a lot of casual racism in society and we laugh about it at times, but we probably don't realise how much damage it really does cause and we all need to learn from it," Ricciuto said on his Triple M breakfast program.
There was nothing "casual" about what Walker said about Young, and if it hasn't already, the Crows board and the AFL itself should order Ricciuto to make another attempt at properly publicly condemning his club's former captain. As the club's coach did.
Like Ricciuto, the AFL Players Association failed to adequately hit the required tone in its addressing of the Walker matter. The same group which has regularly used the words "despicable", "disgusting", "shameful", "vile", "cowardly" and "incomprehensible" when it comes to condemning racist acts by supporters missed its opportunity for stronger messaging with its publicly released statement last Friday.
It was "extremely disappointed at the language used", it said, and there were references to the words being "damaging and divisive".
"… and there is no excuse for it. We are very clear on this – racism is abhorrent and there is no room for it in our game."
The two references to 'Tex' in the statement from CEO Paul Marsh were highly questionable, in my eyes. It may not have been his intent, but it had the effect of softening the message which needed to be delivered.
"In my conversations with Tex, he has expressed his sincere and genuine remorse and has owned and apologised for his actions," the statement read. "Tex is committed to not only learning from this, but to also make a positive difference moving forward.
"… we hope that an outcome of this situation is that we take another step forward towards stamping out racism, both in our game and in society."
Marsh and the AFLPA have used far stronger language in condemning people without public profile. That it was Walker, a captain of an AFL club for five seasons and twice – in 2016 and 2017 – voted by his peers as the AFL's best captain in a season, meant the impact on Indigenous people in the AFL system of his words was far greater and even more hurtful.
Walker's own welfare does need to be factored into this shameful story, and Marsh and everyone at the AFLPA rightly need to – and will – look after him, too. His recovery is going to take many years, and while his AFL sanctions decreed that he can return to playing for the Crows after round three next season, there is no guarantee he will play another match.
But right now Walker's plight is not a priority. The impact of his words on Robbie Young and every other Indigenous player is.
The Blues' hope is gone. Their coach might be, too
There comes a time when a football club can no longer sell hope to its members and supporters.
After round 21, Carlton is there, yet again. Seven matches after incoming president Luke Sayers called for an independent review of the Blues' football operations, nothing favourable has changed for coach David Teague.
In that period, four wins have come, against Adelaide, Fremantle, Collingwood and St Kilda. Losses have been to Geelong, North Melbourne and on Saturday, Gold Coast.
With the review in its very final stages, the performance against the Suns was dreadful. With two matches remaining of 2021, against Port Adelaide and GWS, Teague's personal scoreline since taking over as Carlton coach halfway through 2019, is 21 wins, 27 losses.
While Teague is contracted for 2022, I don't see him surviving the full outcome of the review. Ultimately, while the Blues haven't fallen away under his watch, they certainly haven't improved. While injuries have had an impact, Jacob Weitering, Harry McKay, Sam Walsh and Patty Cripps have been regular contributors. More wins should have ensued.
Sayers is a savvy businessman. He and his board will obviously absorb the findings of the review, but ultimately make their own call on personnel. Having been on the Blues' board since 2012, as a club director he has already been part of the decision-making behind the Brett Ratten into Mick Malthouse into Brendon Bolton into Teague coaching timeline. Nothing has worked successfully, and he and fellow directors needs to take responsibility for that before Teague's future is forensically addressed.
And why his club chose Geoff Walsh to play a key role in the independent review would make for interesting explanation, given Walsh was general manager of football operations at Collingwood during its embarrassingly botched salary cap issues.
In many ways, the Carlton board has failed as dismally as the team itself.