During round 18 the AFL, its teams, players and supporters united in support of Adam Goodes, which has seemingly successfully gotten through to the vilified champion.
When the twin-Brownlow medallist announced his leave of absence as a result of the infamous booing debacle that has engulfed his on field exploits, it was left obscure to whether he would ever return.
But after some much needed TLC from the AFL community Goodes has made the decision to return to action this week against Geelong at Simmonds Stadium on Sunday.
The Indigenous icon called Sydney senior coach John Longmire on Sunday afternoon informing him of his decision to come back and not let the idiocy keep him down.
“He sounded really good and in a positive state of mind,” Longmire told media on Monday.
“He just wants to get back to training and get back to doing the things he loves doing, whether that’s training or playing, and I think it would be great if we can really support him in that.
“It’s something he’s done for a long period of time, and however long his career may go, hopefully he gets to enjoy those games and running around the football ground.
The decision to get back on the horse came after the overwhelming support the Sydney star received over the course of round 18.
It began on Friday night with Richmond electing to wear their indigenous jumpers in their blockbuster with Hawthorn, continuing throughout the weekend with other teams, individual players and supporters all doing their little bit to let Goodes know that the booing was not the view of the broader football community.
Fellow Sydney Indigenous star Lewis Jetta, who has been one of the loudest voices in defence of his teammate, showed his support by once again performing an emphatic war dance in celebration of his goal against the Crows.
Other players emulated this gesture, with both Melbourne’s Jeff Garlett and Fremantle’s Michael Walters also showing off their best moves after kicking goals.
In South Australia, Goodes was backed with a touching tribute before the Port Adelaide and St Kilda game on Sunday, with every player shaking hands with former Indigenous legends from both clubs: Gavin Wanganeen, Byron Pickett and Nicky Winmar before the bounce.
And these are just some examples from a weekend which was filled with heartfelt acts of solidarity for one of the game’s biggest champions.
It was this unwavering support that has left Goodes itching to get back out there.
“We as a football club are extremely grateful for the amount of support from the football community, whether they be coaches, clubs, players and supporters – it’s been amazing,” Longmire said.
“Adam is especially humbled by it.”
After all, it would have been a disgrace for a legend of our game to have been pushed out by disgraceful acts of intolerance, negligence and at times vulgarity.
It is understandable that booing Goodes has divided many, with many protesting their right to vocalise their dislike for the Indigenous Star, not for his race as it is being labelled, but for simple irritation with his character.
But they are ignorant of the fact that Goodes is not only one of the best to lace up, but with his philanthropic work with the Go Foundation, a proven asset to our society.
That is precisely why booing him is a stain on our great game and something that must cease now.
People must realise with each boo they are disrespecting a man that has earnt a level of respect that is reserved for the grandest statesmen of our society.
A man that has earned the right to go about his business unhindered.
After all, it is a well-regarded part of our national identity to respect those who have earned it
Therefore we must adhere to our culture and dignify a man who in every classification has earnt our respect.
This brings us to his return against Geelong on Saturday.
Will members of the crowd at the Cattary ignore all reason and attack vulnerable prey?
Common-sense dictates – Surely not.
But unfortunately all the reason in the world cannot answer this question and we must wait until Saturday to see the results.
In the program Access all Areas on AFL.com.au, respected AFL media commentator Garry Lyon accurately summarised the upcoming circumstances.
“It doesn’t guarantee there isn’t going to be any booing – that’s the bottom line,” Lyon said.
“Adam has to understand that he has the overwhelming support of the broader footy community and it’s never going to be 100 per cent across the board.
“We know this issue is polarising.”
It is of sincerest hopes that this booing escapade is a thing of the past and Goodes can enjoy a deservedly pleasant culmination of a sublime career.
If that isn’t the case, arguably the AFL’s strongest role model must know that in the eyes of the greater football family he is loved.
As for the other irritating outliers; they are, as they say – just noise.
By Juan Estepa (@EstepaJ)