While Jarrod Mullen's legal problems are of his own making, you have to wonder whether he would have ended up supplying cocaine if he had received adequate support from his club and the NRL when his career was brought to a screeching halt. The former Knight's contract was torn up in 2017 for using the performance-enhancing drug drostanolone.
Obviously, this initial dalliance with performance-enhancing drugs was a problem that he brought upon himself, although his four-year ban was the same sentence Sandor Earl received for use of CJC-1295 (eight violations), possession of CJC-1295, trafficking in somatropin, trafficking in clenbuterol, attempted trafficking in SARMS (selective androgen receptor modulators), and attempted trafficking in testosterone.
Mullen's mother said in late 2017 that her son had "been hung out to dry", to which the club responded they "offered support to Jarrod and his family", although the claim was somewhat countered by then-coach Nathan Brown.
"We all went for lunch at his restaurant about three or four weeks after it happened, and Jarrod was there, so where [the players] can't associate with Jarrod is at training and that's because of ASADA," Brown said.
"That's not because of the Knights, or Nathan Brown, that's because of something that Jarrod's done, not something the Knights did."
It's saying the right thing, but it sounds wrong. The Knights recruited Mullen as a child, he played first grade at 18, bled for the club over 12 seasons and 211 games, but he's out in the cold "because of something that Jarrod's done, not something the Knights did".
I'm a big proponent for personal responsibility, and it's not the Knights' fault Mullen took drugs, but surely a young man who has been in an organisation's care for his entire adult life deserves a bit more than just 'your fault!'
It's not the Knights' fault Mullen took drugs, but surely a young man who has been in an organisation's care for his entire adult life deserves a bit more than just 'your fault!'
As for how the Knights should support Mullen given the NRL's change in stance with regards to players facing legal action - bringing in the 'no-fault stand-down' policy - they can look at what other clubs are doing.
Jack de Belin is facing four charges of aggravated sexual assault in company, and a fifth charge of aggravated sexual assault in company, inflicting actual bodily harm.
He has pleaded not guilty and his club, St George Illawarra Dragons, took the NRL to Federal Court in a failed attempt to get de Belin back on the field.
Meanwhile, Manly Sea Eagles player Manase Fainu has pleaded not guilty to charges of wounding a person with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, affray, and recklessly causing grievous bodily harm in company. When Fainu first appeared in court, via video link from prison, he had Manly coach Des Hasler in court to support him, as well as teammates Addin Fonua-Blake, Moses Suli and Jorge Taufua.
It's not just players with impending cases who are receiving support either.
Last month, Panthers player Tyrone May pleaded guilty to four charges relating to recording a sex tape.
Know who was at May's side entering and leaving the court?
Penrith coach Ivan Cleary.
That's support - not just saying "it's been offered but, really, it's his fault this is happening".
Is it really any wonder things turned so badly for Mullen? And they have turned out badly, the 32-year-old having suffered a drug overdose and done a stint in rehab, as well as moving from Newcastle to Wollongong to sort out his life, before being arrested.
As for what the Knights' current management have to say about it, Phil Gardner said in March this year "the people here at the time handled it as best they could".
"What we want to do now is make sure, when the opportunity comes at the end of his ban, that we are there to assist him if he has made all the right choices and decisions between now and then. We won't turn our back on Jarrod," the club CEO said.
If Gardner is legit (and he made that statement at a time when it was known that Mullen was under investigation for supplying the illicit drug, so a guilty plea shouldn't change the club's stance) the Knights won't make another wishy-washy statement of support.
They'll support Jarrod Mullen with their actions.
And the first of those actions should be Gardner and some of Mullen's former teammates who are still on the Knights' books turning up at Wollongong Local Court to stand by their fallen five-eighth when he is sentenced in February.