Jobe Watson will retire from the AFL at the end of this season.
Jobe Watson will retire from the AFL at the end of this season. TRACEY NEARMY

Retiring Watson in a New York state of mind

JOBE Watson is heading back to work as a New York barista.

Announcing the 2017 season will be his last, the Essendon champion revealed he planned to return to the United States where he enjoyed solace during his year-long doping ban.

"I will be heading back to New York. We were rated the fourth best brunch spot in Manhattan," he told a packed media gallery.

"I've got a couple of businesses over there. I will be spending a bit of time here and there."

Watson, 32, has played 217 career games since being drafted as a father-son to Essendon with pick 40 in the 2002 draft.

He made his AFL debut the following year against Geelong in Round 13 before going on to captain the club from 2010-2015 and becoming one of Essendon's greatest players.

He admitted the Bombers' supplements scandal had taken its toll on him.

"I love the game but it doesn't feel the same to be as what it did," he said.

Watson won the Brownlow Medal in 2012 before handing it back to the AFL after being banned for 12 months.

"I think the most difficult time was certainly after the WADA finding," he said.

"Having to be there with my teammates and go through that.

"The actual (Brownlow) Medal wasn't that significant.

"I think the people whose opinion I value and who know me the best, they haven't change because I had to hand back the Brownlow."

Watson had contemplated not returning this season,but had no regrets about his decision, despite again having the spotlight being on him and his teammates.

"It wasn't something I enjoyed. I am a pretty private person. It ends up changing you as a person. You start to over analyse things, having such scrutiny on you. Everyday life changes," he said.

"Coming back to footy, the part I really enjoyed was that locker room environment. That was the most fun I have had for a while and being able to enjoy that with these young guys."

"I certainly always felt we had an enormous amount of support from the Essendon Football Club and the fan base.

"I will miss it. I will miss the friendships. That was always the thing that I loved most about it. It was a dream of mine to play for the Essendon Football Club. I consider myself very fortunate to be able to do that.

"I got everything out of my body. I was totally dedicated to this sport which you need to be."

Watson's final game may come in a final, if the Bombers can hang on to their spot in the top eight.

"I think this group is the most talented that I've been part of. I think the club is in a great position moving forward," he said.

Watson joins a star-studded list of retirees at the end of this season alongside Luke Hodge, Sam Mitchell, Nick Riewoldt, Matt Priddis and Matthew Boyd.

News Corp Australia

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