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"You wake up and say, 'What do I do now?'": When the AFL curtain comes down

Football

Former West Coast defender Mitch Brown says he couldn't help but feel lost after failing to find a new AFL home, but he's made peace with the outcome and doesn't hold any regrets.

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Brown turned down a contract extension at the Eagles in a bid to find a new AFL club in Melbourne, where his netballer wife Shae had moved.

But Brown’s AFL dream came to a crushing end after being overlooked in the national, rookie and pre-season drafts.

Aged just 27 and with 94 games under his belt, Brown felt he had plenty more to give on the AFL stage.

But the 195cm veteran is weighing up whether to continue his football career at a lower level, or embark on a different profession.

Brown revealed he didn’t even listen to Monday’s rookie draft.

I really don’t know whether I want to play footy

Instead, he caught a train in Melbourne just for fun, before his manager called to deliver the bad news that he’d been overlooked.

“It’s been a total mind explosion,” Brown told EON Sports Radio.

“I sort of made peace with it all. But it did hit home a little bit.

“Since then, my phone has been flat out from country teams. There’s been some towns I’ve never heard of before wanting my services next year.

“I really don’t know whether I want to play footy.”

Brown was snared by the Eagles as a 17-year-old with pick No.16 in the 2006 national draft.

He said being cut loose from the AFL system had been a weird experience, especially after spending all of his adult life there.

“There’s been guys who have played 10, 15 years at the Eagles … and they’re 100 per cent set for life after footy,” Brown said.

“But they still go through this period of six or 12 months where they have this loss of identity.

“It nearly happens to everyone, because we follow this schedule for so long.

“We literally get a piece of paper that tells you you have to be here, here and here – for 10 years.

“Suddenly, you wake up and say, ‘What do I do?’.

Brown praised the AFL Players’ Association for making sure axed or retired players weren’t cast entirely into the wilderness after their career.

But he felt more improvements could be made.

“It does take a lot of courage to ask for help and be vulnerable,” Brown said.

“Because for all your career, you get built up by the fans as this hero, and you can do literally anything.

“So you finish your career and go, ‘I actually need some help’.”

Brown described himself as a hopeless romantic, and he fully supported wife Shae’s decision to join Collingwood in Australia’s new Super Netball competition, which starts in February.

-AAP

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