Much could have been said in early 2007 about the direction Simon Goodwin’s life was taking.
Eventually becoming the head coach of an AFL Grand Final team would not have been among them.
But the way the Melbourne coach behaved 14 years ago when he went through his self-inflicted hell gave a glimpse of what was to come.
It left a lasting impression on Neil Craig, then Goodwin’s coach with the Crows.
The saga is well documented – the AFL fined Goodwin $ 40,000, half of which was suspended, for betting on an AFL game in 2006.
The two-time Premiership player and Crows midfielder had been exposed as a gambling addict.
Part of the AFL penalty also involved the rehabilitation of Goodwin.
Anyone who has been in close contact with an addict will attest that they are master manipulators.
And Goodwin could have been just another pampered AFL star, saying what he knew everyone wanted to hear.
Instead, he asked for help.
“The bottom line… is for Simon to own his situation and take responsibility for it,” Craig told AAP.
“He was happy – and looking – for help.
“Now it sounds simple enough, but very few people will do it.
“In other words, they will play the blame game or ‘woe to me’.
“But I vividly remember one particular meeting where Simon had a discussion with me and he said ‘Craigy, I need help with this and I want to be able to change my behaviors and my ways for a whole series. of reasons’. “
The following season, Goodwin was named captain of the Crows.
Craig said it was a huge credit to Goodwin for his courage – and that he was also proud of the support Adelaide gave the player.
“This is the reason why he was allowed to stay with the football club… he accepted ownership of it and he accepted the fact that he had to change,” said Craig.
“It can get very tiring, this kind of situation, for any organization – it consumes a lot of resources and a lot of time.
“It’s not just about Simon saying ‘this is what I want to do’ – he had to get the club’s support.”
Craig also has no doubts that what Goodwin went through next has served him well in becoming a senior coach.
“As for extending that into training, he will have great empathy for the other players he is exposed to during his coaching journey,” said Craig.
“It is not an easy path, which people can change; the role and importance of people accept their responsibilities and ask for help.
“He will be able to walk in their place because he was in their place in these kinds of situations.”
In the last two years of Goodwin’s illustrious playing career in Adelaide, Craig has seen the first signs of a coach.
Goodwin showed curiosity, “rather than showing up and being spoon fed as a player”
Then, upon retirement, Goodwin uprooted his family and took on an assistant coaching position at Essendon.
“Whether it’s good, bad or indifferent, the environment doesn’t matter. The point is you see a different way of doing things, which is a great learning experience in itself,” said Craig said.
Of course, things got very bad in Essendon – Goodwin was an assistant under James Hird at the time of the drug scandal.
Goodwin was investigated, but the AFL had no objections when Melbourne wanted him as Paul Roos’ assistant in their coaching succession plan.
Craig remains heavily involved in high performance and coaching development, now with the England rugby union team.
He was an interim coach in Melbourne for half a season before Roos was named and consulted this season at Gold Coast.
Craig and Goodwin are friends and the Demons trainer called him just a few weeks ago to chat.
“One of the traits of the best coaches is that they are curious and have a humility about them – they understand that they don’t know everything,” Craig said.
“A lot of coaches won’t do it because ‘I need to know everything’ or to be seen to know everything.
“One of Simon’s greatest strengths is his ability to look in other areas, to ask for a different point of view, a different opinion.”