AFL boss Gillon McLachlan says he understands Adam Goodes' call to knock back inclusion into the Australian Football Hall of Fame but hopes time will heal old wounds.
Speaking for the first time since the Sydney legend's decision to reject his induction into the hall of fame was made public, McLachlan supported Goodes' reasoning.
"I've certainly spoken to him in recent years, I haven't spoken to him this year," McLachlan told 3AW.
"It's a decision for Adam and Adam only, and we understand and respect his choice.
"I don't say this lightly, he's a champion of the game and a leader who gave a hell of a lot.
"I think everyone hopes there's a time in the future when he wants to be connected to the game again but it's got to be when he's ready.
"I certainly understand that he's not and certainly understand it's going to take some time. But hopefully time heals."
Goodes, the AFL's most decorated Indigenous player, cut ties with everything to do with football as soon as he retired in 2015, after prolonged booing during games.
The 41-year-old's on-field feats, which include two Brownlow medals, made him a walk-up start to be inducted into the hall of fame, now that he is eligible.
Goodes' final three seasons, particularly his last, were marred by ugly booing from crowds and he also became a target for controversial figures in the media.
The 372-game champion remains disillusioned with the game and it was revealed this week he had rejected inclusion into the hall of fame.
The AFL issued a second public apology, from chair Richard Goyder, to Goodes on Tuesday for not doing enough to protect and support the four-time All-Australian during the tumultuous end to his career.