There's no action on the field but there's still plenty to debate during the shutdown. Our AFL experts answer some of the burning questions.
Which current player will have the best highlights reel upon retirement?
Niall Seewang: I'm taking the current leader in this race as the safest bet against any possible future possibilities - Lance Franklin. He'd already boast one of the best highlight reels of all time - 300 games littered with insane long running goals down the wing, monster majors from outside 60, mindblowing athleticism and match-winning solo efforts. He edges Eddie Betts and Nic Naitanui here, while a long-term challenger might be Connor Rozee.
Jake Michaels: I really want to say Robbie Gray will be the man with the best highlights reel, but I feel like we'll be watching Buddy's best moments for decades. From his brilliant running goal at Marvel Stadium where he left Cale Hooker trailing behind to his 100th goal of the 2008 season to "Thirteen, thirteeeeen," Franklin has done it all and will go down in AFL history as one of the most entertaining players of all time.
Matt Walsh: Doesn't Eddie Betts just bring a smile to your face every time you see any of his highlights? He's kicked goals from every corner of just about every stadium in the land, will no doubt have a pocket named after him at Adelaide Oval, and -- unlike Franklin, and no disrespect to Buddy! -- can take a screamer as well. Eddie has an all-time highlights reel that I'll be going back to time and time again.
How would a crowdless GF be received?
NS: As recently as two months ago, the prospect of a Grand Final being played in front of no fans would be horrifying! But in the current environment, nothing should be ruled out. I think most fans would be craving a return in any shape or form, despite the strange vibe the empty stadiums had in Round 1. If footy resumes and finals are played without any fans allowed through the gates, then that's definitely better than nothing.
JM: Negatively, of course. We all realise that having 100,000 people crammed into the MCG for the AFL Grand Final is not the smartest move, and the federal government will likely not allow it, but that's not going to stop it from looking average on television. We'll all take it, as it's better than nothing, but there's not going to be too many of us wanting to see it repeated down the track.
MW: Well, I'm sure the 65,000 corporate suits who get a gig every year are shattered, but for the average fan, I suspect the adjustment won't be as hard. We'll still (I'm sure by then!) turn on the barbie, be allowed to have a few mates around and watch the two best teams go at it hammer and tongs. Sure, the atmosphere won't be the same, but ask anyone who's been to both a prelim and a granny, and they'll tell you the atmosphere the week before will be the one they'll miss more.
What will be one positive change from this shutdown?
NS: I'm projecting here, but I'm hoping the biggest positive change will be an opening up of the onfield action with fewer assistant coaches and analysts at each club. Of course it's shattering for the individuals involved who have lost their jobs, but I hope there will be a significant silver lining for the game itself: a throwback to instinctive footballers being released from their structural shackles. Fingers crossed.
JM: This goes for all sport, not just the AFL, but I think this five-week lockdown (and counting) will just fuel everyone's appetite for live sport when things go back to normal. Now, people won't be flocking to games immediately, but broadcast figures and general interest is going to be higher than ever. This can only be a good thing for the game going forward.
MW: Hopefully we won't be arguing over the petty things, like minor rule changes or the 'over-coverage' of the game. It'll just be nice to have footy back when it returns. I can also see more weeknight games being added to the schedule, which I'm all for, though, give us two days to ourselves please, AFL! A reverse weekend, if you will...
Should the draft age be lifted?
NS: I don't believe so. Look at the 2018 draft as an example - Sam Walsh, Connor Rozee, Bailey Smith, Tarryn Thomas and Nick Blakey all found their feet immediately, and that was just from the first 10 selections. AFL history is littered with such examples, while of course acknowledging different players mature at different rates. Australia doesn't have the benefit of the U.S. college system, so I can't see the benefit of forcing prospects to sit out a year or two before being drafted.
JM: I can certainly see the reasons for people wanting it to be lifted, but if it isn't broken, why try and fix it? The 18-year-olds of today are bigger and stronger than ever and many are ready to play from Round 1 of their rookie season. If recruiters were offered a further two years of draftee tape and development, much of the unpredictability of the draft would evaporate. The current climate benefits top recruiters, who can spot talent when perhaps others can't. Let's keep it that way.
MW: Raise it. I see Niall's point about the 2018 draft, but counter it by saying that those players would still be getting picked up down the track. I think raising the age to at least 20, like suggested by Damien Hardwick, would allow prospective draftees to all but knock out a uni degree or apprenticeship before footy, and will afford them valuable life lessons. Oh, and not to mention they'll be more physically developed so recruiters will be able to nail their picks more often, hopefully leading to a more even competition. Extend the NAB League, raise the draft age, and the quality of footy will rise as well.