Bombers look for clear skies in season 2016
NICK O'Brien was talked about as having leadership qualities when he was first drafted by Essendon in 2011.
And the promising big-bodied midfielder is certainly determined to help lead the Bombers out of its darkest period.
O'Brien played two games for Essendon in his debut season in 2012 - the only two games in which he hasn't had the black cloud of the doping scandal hanging over his club.
"Being a part of it for most of my career, I suppose it's been a little bit of the norm ... sadly," he told APN.
"You feel really sad about the way it's changed people's relationships, and the way people view the game.
"I'm one of many looking for closure, looking for the players to be vindicated, seen as the upstanding fair players they are."
The saga, which began in February, 2013, when the Bombers first raised their concerns about its 2012 supplements program, is finally close to a conclusion.
It was announced this week the Court of Arbitration for Sport would begin hearing the case involving 34 current and former Essendon players on November 16 in Sydney.
"It'll be great if we can look at each other around Christmas-time knowing we are going into a pre-season that is going to be untouched and not influenced by this saga," O'Brien said.
The 22-year-old has only played 13 games but has a maturity beyond his years.
"It's going to be a really big challenge for our club in the way we're going to respond in the next couple of years," he said.
"I want to be a part of that, set a foundation for getting our club back to where we know it can get to."
First though, O'Brien must win a new contract at Essendon.
Gathering a team-high 31 disposals in the narrow loss to Gold Coast last week would have done his chances no harm.
"You start to get a little nervous and it does play on your mind," he said of coming out of contract.
"The club's still got a lot of decisions to make on our list, with our new coach, for next year.
"Hopefully that means I'll get a new contract but in the meantime, I've got to hold up my end of the deal, which is to play some good footy."
O'Brien will look to continue his impressive late-season form when the Bombers take on a red-hot Richmond at the MCG today, their second game under Matthew Egan since the resignation of senior coach James Hird.
"We all love Hirdy, as a person and a coach," O'Brien said. "Hirdy was the guy who drafted me. He was my first coach. He gave me my first opportunity as a player.
"The way things have played out the last few years, you'd have to be blind if you hadn't noticed the pressure that was on externally.
"The situation had just gotten so far out of hand it wasn't sustainable the way it was going.
"It's a sad set of circumstances that have prevailed.
"But with the ruthlessness of footy, you have to move on pretty quickly."