Strange happenings in Sloane saga
STRANGE, says Crows free-agent midfielder Rory Sloane of the reports he is close to signing a new deal at the Adelaide Football Club.
The "growing pains" of a professional AFL - with free agency in its infancy - continue to test the game in more bizarre ways every season.
Lance Franklin's move from Hawthorn to Sydney consumed the patience of Hawks premiership coach Alastair Clarkson in 2013 (and ultimately the AFL Commission as the Swans trumped neighbours GWS for the power forward).
Patrick Dangerfield's move from Adelaide to Geelong in 2016 - with his confirmation to Crows football boss David Noble in August - challenged a player and football club's ability to keep a secret during an AFL finals series.
Brownlow Medallist Dustin Martin's decision to stay at Richmond - after being offered the world by North Melbourne - pushed the usually unflappable Neil Balme to the limit, as highlighted by his futile trip to New Zealand to appeal to Martin's father.
And now Sloane - more so than the other hot free agent, Gold Coast forward Tom Lynch - is to test a fan base and a club administration that is on edge after losing so many star players at West Lakes in recent seasons.
Sloane's reaction - "Strange," he said - to the thought he is "close to signing" a four-year deal with the Crows is mild compared to the reaction of his spouse, Belinda.
And keep in mind what Sloane has said since the end of last season. This monumental decision goes beyond football and beyond him.
"There's other stuff to consider," Sloane said. "There's a person away from football as well; there's a Rory Sloane away from football that I also think about."
So how does the "strange" revelation of Sloane looking at the fine details of a new four-year deal at West Lakes unfold?
His manager? Highly unlikely. More unlikely considering there is no need to jolt the Victorian-based suitors who made their grand proposals in the summer.
Sloane? Not at all. It must have been strange - very strange - for Sloane on Wednesday to do a radio interview on this topic with a man who is radio host one minute and then Sloane's boss as the Crows' list manager and board member. And he also is a business partner. Strange indeed.
The Crows? Perhaps, if only to create comfort in a supporter base. Adelaide does have form in this zone, as noted in last year's trade period with the false reports that speed forward Charlie Cameron had changed his mind on a trade to Brisbane after a hit of golf with coach Don Pyke.
Strange that the Crows - who are renowned for repeating, "We do not comment on contracts" - are creating a form line on misinformation.
The strangest note from this Sloane saga is how the AFL community still has not grasped the point of free agency. It is to allow players, who get no say on where they start their AFL careers, to command their futures. And for more money quite often. How strange.