Gary Ablett has had an impressive start to the season. Picture: Michael Klein
Gary Ablett has had an impressive start to the season. Picture: Michael Klein

Can we find time to celebrate Gaz?

Gary Ablett Sr kicked 7.5 on Scotty Turner with a torn ACL in the first week of 1997 in a nondescript VFL game and was never seen again.

Instead of a triumphant farewell the footballing maestro spent the year sidelined, although the next day's match report notes he still found time to knock a Richmond rival "senseless".

Chris Judd flew high to mark over Adelaide's Patrick Dangerfield in a 2015 home-and-away clash, landed in agony with a buckled knee, and retired within days.

Champions don't get to choose when they retire.

They shouldn't be immune from criticism.

But AFL fans do have the option of deciding to celebrate them while they still ply their trade or turning their final seasons into a daily "will he, won't he" saga.

Gary Ablett and Jarryd Roughead both enter contract seasons with many wondering if they have reached the end.

It is a valid question that will be debated for the entirety of the season, as every possession or piece of body language is interpreted for signs.

If you want to use Ablett's diminishing possession tally or Roughead's lack of spring as evidence they should move on it will be easy to find it.

Ablett's future is too big a story not to analysed but it is possible to do so while finding time to rejoice in his greatness.


We should enjoy Gary Ablett, not smack him. Picture: Michael Klein
We should enjoy Gary Ablett, not smack him. Picture: Michael Klein

It feels like in his 18 seasons - with two Brownlow Medals, eight All-Australian nods, five MVP trophies - we have spent maybe eight of them enjoying him and 10 of them smacking him.

His 2010 season at Geelong was spent assessing his rift with Mark Thompson and his future, his seven years at the Suns were about his lack of leadership or inability to play with injury.

That theme continued last year as his lack of defensive intent was feverishly discussed.

All of them are valid talking points.

Yet at some stage this year when you watch the Cats live, spend five minutes tracking him and wonder in his small flashes of brilliance.

And realise that there aren't too many times you get to watch an automatic Hall of Fame legend still strutting their stuff at age 34.

Geelong captain Joel Selwood told the Herald Sun at the AFL captain's day Geelong's players still basked in Ablett's greatness every day.

"That's for people to do and they always have with Gaz. What I would do is stay in the moment," he said.

"That's what we appreciate, some of the things he does at training. Just day to day stuff, but also what he can do on game day.

"It's a hard role, the small forward role so we don't expect him to kick four goals every week. "He will understand what we expect of him and go out and do it."

For his part Ablett is happy to wait until the end of the season aware there are many scenarios that could see him pulling the pin at the end of his 18th season.

Geelong might need to rebuild, he might fail to adapt to his new forward role, or heaven forbid he might suffer serious injury.

So before it's too late, take a moment to enjoy the four-time Hawks champ who also beat a life-threatening melanoma and a midfielder up there as the greatest of all time.