See the salary thing is where I tend to disagree, no one seemed to have any issues at all when most opinions felt Martin was probably underpaid for the previous 2 - 3 seasons prior to the late 2017 signing and with the new contract like any professional organisation, the onus is on the employer to ensure the employee is meeting the agreed KPIs rather than onlookers who are not fully aware of all key components and requirements. While we as fans can get frustrated or excited depending on the results, it's the coaches who know exactly what they are looking for from each player. In all workplaces, there can be some outstanding performers especially youngsters with no fear of failure and a great desire to succeed however it's the proven performers who will be rightfully earning the higher salary due to their ongoing consistency. Dustin Martin still brings people to games and salary packages are not just about the 2 hours of game time. Again, people are entitled to their own opinions and my opinion is some of the talk about getting his large contract and then not giving a damn about his game or his teammates was just a knee jerk reaction to the current win/loss situation and not really about questioning the integrity of Dustin Martin or at least that is what I'm choosing to believe.I don’t think anyone is questioning his performance in the past. He is ranked one of the highest in the league for a reason and he dominated our best and fairest for a reason.
However, the reality is that the moment you successfully negotiate a higher salary, the standard you are expected to perform at also goes higher. So his salary does have something to do with it, or else why is he paid one of the highest in the league? To produce stats like his Bulldogs game as one of his best games? No.
You see this in almost every profession and I don’t see AFL as being different to other professions. Yeah, his Bulldogs game was one of his better performances this season, but quite frankly it was similar in statistics to first-year midfielder Jack Ross’ game against Melbourne and Port Adelaide. For his Bulldogs game to be one of his middling to lower standard games would be fine, but the concern is that it was one of his better ones this season.
Nevertheless, the aforementioned points doesn’t change one thing - our support for him. Yes, he is performing lower than his salary would demand and I am not necessarily calling for the standards set upon him to be lowered, but as you said well, he is a human being and so are we. I think we all know how it feels to be performing below expected standards so we need to alleviate that pressure on him by being understanding as fellow humans. We need to be patient with him while he is going through this form slump. Riewoldt went through it, Cotchin went through it, Edwards went through it, Grigg went through it and Rance started off like that to name a few. All players have since bounced back from the form slump in latter seasons. Now it seems to be Martin’s turn and it could potentially last the entire season, I don’t know. What I do know is that I have the confidence that he’ll eventually bounce back like the others.
Additionally, we know that he recently opened up about his mental health and this may potentially be a contributing factor to the way he plays.
Re the mental health issues Martin revealed at the start of the season, it probably caught him by surprise last year which is completely understandable after his 2017, and I think he has shown incredible strength to raise the issue especially for someone who values his privacy so much. That determination and strength will stand him in good stead for the remainder of this season and quite seriously, if more people could send positive vibes his way instead of the overwhelming flood of negativity caused by the aussie tall poppy syndrome, the Dustin Martin of 2017 may very well have an opportunity to re-emerge.