Glittering career set to be over after being sacked from his third club.
Todd Carney’s career has crash-landed for the third time in his 28 years, how the Dally M medal winner reached arguably his lowest ebb now has to be considered.
His story is one that has been told the world over no matter what the code.
Star player comes from a lower socioeconomic background and is earmarked for success from a young age, only to struggle to live in the fishbowl that often is, being a professional sportsperson.
Thrust into a world with more money than he knows what to do with, plenty of time to spend it in ways he shouldn’t and admiration from all of the wrong people.
It can be a dangerous cocktail for a person without a strong support network to keep them grounded and focused.
Also most of Carney’s problems relate to alcohol, but it goes beyond that with football in Australia.
Footy culture is inexorably linked to consuming as much booze possible and the culture of pressure that can come about from being with teammates at the same time, can be destructive to careers if players cannot pull back from the brink of self-destruction.
Carney’s first alcohol-related incident came in December 2006 when he was charged with mid-range drink driving after an incident in his hometown of Goulburn.
The next in May 2007 when he led police on a high speed chase through the streets of Canberra before being charged with drink driving and reckless driving, failing to stop when directed by police, negligent driving and driving while disqualified. He receives a suspended jail sentence.
Carney’s first rehab plan was put in place in May 2007.
Just two months later he was stood down for urinating on a patron inside a Canberra pub, and while the complaint was withdrawn, evidence was mounting up.
A litany of other incidents including damaging a car, a nude-photo scandal, setting a man’s pants on fire, being linked with illegal Valium possession and more drinking related incidents while with the Sydney Roosters add up to one of two things.
Either the rehabilitation plans by the Raiders, Roosters and NRL did no go far enough.
Or Carney simply cannot be helped because he does not listen.
In the postmortem of this latest scandal, NRL boss Dave Smith and head of football Todd Greenberg must go back and look at the plans that were given to Carney to see if they were sufficient enough to stop this latest incident.
At the same time, Carney must be questioned as well, because fanatix is a strong believer in being accountable for your own actions and would not want to pin all of the blame on the code if the subject did not want help or could not adhere to reasonable requests.
The other question that has to be asked is a simple, why?
Why do the act in question?
Why did it happen again now at this point in his career?
Is it an indication of something more troubling with Carney, that while this can’t really be seen as a ‘cry for help’ is rather more of a sign that he is becoming increasingly unstable in his life off the field.
Away from the routine and structure of training and playing and having every detail planned out by coaching staff.
No doubt Cronulla’s terrible season has contributed to this incident as a winning team is a happy team and the 28-year-old would be more likely to be distracted by the prospect of a run through the finals, rather than where he is going this off-season for holidays.
Despite knowing he is currently, and will continue to be ridiculed for this incident for years to come, fanatix hopes those around Carney support him enough and give him the courage to publicly shed some light on why he was photographed doing this.
Most fans will simple label him as an idiot, a grub or a litany of other derogatory labels.
Fanatix agrees the act Carney is caught doing is disgusting, but is more curious as to what made his countdown to another off-field meltdown reach zero.
People make mistakes and for the most part they deserve a chance to make amends and prove it was just that, a mistake.
But Carney has had so many second chances, thanks largely to his ability to be a game-changing player that this latest incident might be the final straw for every stakeholder in the game.
Regardless of what, if anything, Carney says about his sacking from the Sharks his prospects to do what he does well look limited.
The NRL will have a tough time keeping him registered given he has burnt through three welcome mats in the competition.
It can be argued that Canberra, Sydney and Cronulla have not had the best record for off-field behaviour, but seemingly no club in the NRL, no matter how strong the leaders off it, would be able to tame him.
Clubs can’t risk having negative headlines for fear of losing sponsors and season-ticket holders when many of them are playing limbo with the financial pole between being in the red and the black.
Suggestions of moving to Melbourne or North Queensland have been put forward.
Storm coach Craig Bellamy has forged a reputation for getting the most out of any player and the standards set on and off the field have been exemplary by the Victorian-based team.
Being in the heart of AFL country as well could help Carney as he could gain more anonymity in a city where people care more about the new rookie in the Western Bulldogs side than what Carney did last night.
However, fanatix feels the Storm will not want to risk upsetting the balance they have their side despite what Carney can do when in-form and with his mind focussed on football.
The Cowboys have also been mentioned to possibly take on the troubled five-eighth which does make some sense on paper given his sabbatical to Atherton to play with the Roosters in the Cairns District Rugby League competition after being sacked by the Raiders.
But again his rap-sheet is too long for a club like the Cowboys to consider given they are battling enough problems to live up the standard expected of them this season, as much as a Johnathan Thurston-Todd Carney halves pairing looks like something out of a game of fantasy NRL.
The United Kingdom and Super League are out of the question given the country’s tough stance on granting work Visas to people who have criminal backgrounds.
Unlikely given his lack of a history in the 15-man code and, again, his trouble-maker reputation will count against him then Super Rugby sides would already have a slew of youngster knocking at their door to get a start and Carney would be the riskiest code-hopper ever.
Even if Carney never laces up a boot again as a professional, a fact needs to remembered, he is only 28 and still has the rest of his life in front of him.
And as much of a negative impact as he has made off the field, the NRL and its fans wouldn’t want to be literally mourning Carney before his time as could happen, if he does not get real help this time to face whatever demons that have plagued him through his career – if he wants to.