Don’t make us wait, Rory
TELL us now, Rory! We will understand.
The AFL season doesn't start until March 22 next year but already the speculation about Rory Sloane's future threatens to derail the Crows 2018 campaign in the same way Jake Lever's did this year.
It is the same controversy that swirled around Patrick Dangerfield's last season at Adelaide when it was a constant distraction.
It will be much worse now because it's started sooner. Surely Sloane is too much of a team player to let that happen although someone has to tell him that his comments to The Advertiser this week haven't satisfied anyone.
"I'm not fussed how long it takes. I've never rushed any of my contracts - and there's not going to be a timeline on this one either…..I will think long and hard about this decision. And I will make this one with Belinda," he said.
It was the same scripted comments that he repeated in two further interviews on Thursday.
We've heard it all before, Rory. It doesn't matter how many ways you try to disguise it, it always ends in heartbreak when you walk out the door the moment the season ends.
It's time we grew up as a football code. Rory Sloane should be able to tell us that 2018 will be his last season at the Crows. It happens constantly in the other codes and no one thinks twice about it.
The classic example last season was of the Melbourne Storm's NRL champion Cooper Cronk who signalled early in the season that he would be returning to Sydney. Every game then became a celebration culminating in a premiership. The victory presentation was made even more special because of the tributes that were showered on him by both his team-mates and his opponents.
He has subsequently signed with the Sydney Roosters. No one at the Storm feels deceived or that he lied to them.
Sloane played his first game for the Crows in 2009. Next year will be his 10th season at the club by which time he will have played close to 190 games.
In that time no other Crow, except perhaps inaugural skipper Chris McDermott, has played with more courage and commitment.
He has impressed us all with his desperation for the contest and his desire to carry his team. Taylor Walker is the captain but Rory Sloane has been the Crows' spiritual leader. Football fans notice and appreciate these things.
Crows fans may love Eddie Betts for his spectacular football tricks and his unselfishness but equally they respect Sloane for his courage and commitment. He will lose no friends if he and Belinda, his wife, decide to return to Melbourne.
Sloane is an unrestricted free agent, which means he can simply walk out of the club when his contract has been completed at the end of next season.
There will be no need for posturing by managers or evasive manoeuvres by Sloane and his family.
Unfortunately the Crows will get no adequate compensation for losing a great player. They lost the best player in the competition in Patrick Dangerfield at the end of 2015 and at the moment still have very little to show for him.
"I've not thought about free agency", Sloane said earlier this week. That might be true - stress might - but his manager, his wife and his family sure have.
The Adelaide Football Club, which endures much ridicule for losing so many star players, must now drive this agenda. He should be the Crows' highest-paid player, although it is unlikely he is. Forget that he has one more year to run on his contract.
Renegotiate the contract and make it impossible for him to reject it. The proviso is that we must know before the season starts.
Either Rory Sloane commits and re-signs before the next season starts or he declares that 2018 will be his last at the club.
The disappointment of losing a great player and an equally great citizen will be acute but it will be much better than the disappointment that comes with being deceived and constantly lied to. Importantly the destructive speculation driven by mischievous media and opposition fans immediately evaporates.
More importantly, he leaves with our respect, not our resentment.