Not for the first time Jordan De Goey finds himself at the crossroads of his AFL career.
The Collingwood midfielder is facing charges of forcible touching and assault after an alleged incident at a New York nightclub which saw him spend the night in a Manhattan jail cell.
He’s set to front a judge again on December 8 and has been stood down from Collingwood’s AFL program “indefinitely” – and likely miss a chunk of the pre-season depending on how the hearing plays out.
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While much depends on the verdict itself – De Goey has pleaded not guilty – this latest off-field incident involving the 25-year-old has the potential to derail his AFL career.
Earlier this year, De Goey pleaded guilty to road offences that included speeding while driving a sports car as a P-plater and sending texts at traffic lights.
In 2018, he was found drink-driving while on his P-plates, which saw him fined $10,000 and suspended by the Pies.
A year prior, he was suspended by the Pies for lying about how he broke his hand – an injury he sustained during a bar fight in St Kilda.
Also, while not being found guilty, De Goey again made unwanted headlines this year amid an indecent assault charge stemming from an alleged incident in 2015, with the charges ultimately dropped.
Now, coming out of contract at the end of 2022, De Goey’s situation could hardly be more fraught.
De Goey already had little margin for error given the comprehensive regime change Collingwood has undergone and continues to undergo heading into his final year.
The board has undergone significant change, with a new president expected to be appointed soon, while a new senior coach is at the helm in Craig McRae.
Perhaps most frustratingly for Collingwood fans, De Goey’s latest sliding doors moment comes just when everything seemed to be smoothing out.
After several seasons of fluctuating impact in games and an identity crisis that saw him neither a fully-fledged forward or midfielder, De Goey in 2021 appeared to find the perfect balance in his game.
Like Jake Stringer at Essendon, De Goey found his niche this year as a centre-bounce midfielder who could quickly push forward and rip rival defences to shreds, averaging 21 disposals (above average for midfielders) and 1.2 goals (elite) a game.
He could’ve had claims on a five-year, $5 million free agency deal, according to Herald Sun journalist Jon Ralph, meaning up to $6 million could be lost out on by De Goey if the final year of his current deal is scrapped.
There was no reason to think De Goey couldn’t continue on with his breakout form in 2022, with footage of him at a training camp overseas something that prompted club great Tony Shaw to proclaim “the penny has dropped”.
Instead, De Goey appears to have put himself in a position all-too-familiar.
More worryingly for De Goey, the Pies might be even more willing to cut the cord on him than they have been in the past, as the club manages the tricky prospect of extending star pair Darcy Moore and Brayden Maynard beyond 2022 along with De Goey himself.
Depending on how his current case plays out, the Pies could well conclude that De Goey’s actions have made him the weak link in that chain of three, cutting him from the list and freeing up some considerable salary cap space in the process.
To top it all off, even De Goey’s management presents unique challenges – rather than be represented by an established talent agency, he is currently managed by his brother-in-law, who works as a fireman.
After a 118-game rollercoaster ride, De Goey’s career is teetering on the edge once again. This time however, with a new regime in charge and already a contract balancing act looming, the Pies seem more likely than they ever have before to draw a line in the sand that’s been a long time coming.