DAMIEN Hardwick has urged the football world to "wrap its arms around" James Hird after the Essendon great was asked by the AFL to present this year's Norm Smith Medal.
It is understood the League is yet to hear from the Bombers' great, who won the medal in 2000 but has slipped out of the public eye in the fallout of the club's disastrous supplements saga.
Hird told Newscorp from Europe yesterday he would be delighted to present the coveted award.
Hardwick, who is a close friend of Hird and played with him in the Bombers' 2000 premiership triumph, said it was fantastic the 44-year-old had been welcomed back to the game.
"It's great. I think footy is a pretty forgiving game, and James is one of the all-time great players, great leader and a great friend of mine," the Richmond coach said on Friday.
"From my point of view, wrap your arms around him and bring him back in.
"Once again, we've got to remember that everyone has an error in life, so we've just got to make sure we continue to wrap our arms around people and get them back involved in the game.
"I think that's the one thing AFL footy is great for – bringing people together."