A lawyer who acted for James Hird during the Essendon supplements debacle has blasted the AFL over the former coach’s health crisis.
Steven Amendola said the league must share some blame.
Hird is understood to be recovering at an undisclosed health facility after being rushed to hospital on Wednesday night for a suspected drug overdose.
His wife Tania issued a media statement on Friday, thanking the public for its support and pleading for privacy.
“They (AFL) have relentlessly trashed his reputation and misrepresented the facts and the context,” Amendola told the Herald Sun.
“I hope they are satisfied now but it should hardly be surprising – even for someone with mental health as strong as James’ – that this has happened.
“They have to bear some responsibility for it.”
Amendola has regularly criticised the AFL over the past few years for how it has handled the Essendon saga.
There is deep-seated bitterness in the Hird camp towards the AFL and anti-doping authorities about how the scandal played out.
Amendola also said other prominent AFL figures had been treated differently to Hird after they had been through hard times.
“From what I have observed over the past number of years, it seems that you can glass your partner, you can sleep with your best friend’s wife and the path to forgiveness will always be open in AFL land,” Amendola said.
“But if your name is James Hird that path will be blocked.”
Watch Mr Amendola talk about the Essendon supplements saga:
The Herald Sun also reported that Hird had struggled in recent times with being approached and criticised by members of the public.
He was reportedly berated by an Essendon supporter and the wife of a prominent judge at a pre-Christmas function.
Former cricketer and outspoken Hird advocate Bruce Francis said that one woman “gave James both barrels over what she thought happened at Essendon”.
“She made startling accusations, all baseless. She had no idea what she was talking about. Her comments had a devastating effect on James.”
Hird, a father of four, has had a very low public profile since he left his job as Essendon coach in August 2015.
– with AAP