Franklin “Drama” A Storm In A Teacup

AFL superstar Buddy Franklin has ceased contract negotiations with the Hawthorn Football Club until the end of this season. Many pundits believe this could be the beginning of the end for the star’s stay in Melbourne’s east. Could huge pay checks at other clubs await? Has he achieved all he can at the Hawks? Just for sanity’s sake, let’s all calm down for a moment.Hawks CEO Stuart Fox took to the club’s website to write directly to supporters on the issue.“Lance has indicated he would like to delay discussion on his contract to the end of the 2013 season,” Fox wrote.“The club accepts Lance is within his rights to proceed this way and we will continue to work towards retaining him within the structure of our talented playing list by keeping an open dialogue with Lance and his manager.“Both the club and its members must be prepared to acknowledge this situation is part of a new football landscape under free agency.”Some are pronouncing doom and gloom for Hawks supporters this September, but let’s look at this from a broader perspective.Buddy is already a superstar of the game. In his seven years as a professional footballer he has a résumé equal to many of the game’s greats.He has played 160 games, scored 517 goals and has been Hawthorn’s leading goal-kicker every year since entering the league. He has won the Coleman Medal for leading goal-kicker in the entire competition twice.But as a 27-year-old who is coming to the end of his contract, he is trying to set himself up for life after football as well as the present day.Admittedly, the situation is not ideal for Hawthorn, but worst case scenario they have one of the greatest and most exciting players in the AFL on their list for one more year.Anyone who has lived off contract work knows that when the time comes to discuss new contract terms you hope that you are in a position of leverage.Buddy has come into these talks with a pretty strong hand. He is a multiple award winner with a premiership medallion and has been part of the game’s elite since he donned the number 23. Not only that, his team came close to winning their second flag of his playing career just last year.Now imagine his value, not only in terms of money, but in terms of the legacy of a football club if he leads them back to the Promised Land, wins that second premiership and maybe even a Norm Smith Medal.At the end of the day, the only people who know the true reason for this sudden cease in contract talks is Buddy himself and his agent Liam Pickering.Pickering has somewhat of a history in his star clients trading jerseys, most notably Gary Ablett Jr. leaving Geelong for the newly established Gold Coast Suns.The closer we get to the end of the season without word from the Franklin camp, the more we should worry. But in pre-season? I wouldn’t be too concerned as a Hawks fan.Let’s all remember another key forward who was in almost the same position last season: Travis Cloke.He got big offers from several clubs as well, many of which are being mentioned as possible destinations for Franklin, but chose to stay with Collingwood.Just like the Magpies, the Hawks are in the middle of a premiership window. They have a list capable of going deep into September for years to come.Buddy means a lot to the Hawks. Whether he leaves or not, he remains an icon not just of the club, but the entire Mathew Langdon

February 11th 2013
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