RECENTLY departed Essendon coach Mark Thompson would not be surprised if Bombers captain Jobe Watson doesn't play AFL football again.
Thompson worked closely with Watson at Essendon from 2011-14, in the first three years as a senior assistant to coach James Hird and last year as stand-in coach while Hird served a 12-month suspension for his part in the Bombers' 2011-12 supplements program.
The two-time Geelong premiership coach said Watson had been so worn down by the two-and-a-half-year supplements saga that he could decide to retire.
"This has whacked him right in the gob and it wouldn't surprise me if he just said, 'Yeah, I've had enough'. It wouldn't surprise me at all," Thompson told radio station 3AW.
"He's been the spokesman for the player group and the length of time (the saga has dragged on for), I think, has just got to him.
"If there's no end, if it just keeps going, I don't think anyone would want to be involved in that."
Thompson's comments follow Watson's admission on Friday night that he had lost his enjoyment of football this season before undergoing season-ending shoulder surgery following the Bombers' round 14 loss to St Kilda.
The Dons skipper told Channel Seven that WADA's decision in May to appeal the AFL Anti-Doping Tribunal decision clearing 34 past and present Essendon players of anti-doping offences had weighed heavily on him.
"I had some moments where I wasn't enjoying playing," Watson said.
"I guess it stems back to what happened at the start of the year and given what we've gone through I think we deserved to move on.
"It's very difficult to have closure on anything until it's behind (us) and unfortunately it's not."
Watson said his shoulder injury had come at an opportune time.
"I think I needed some breathing air," he said.
"I wasn't sure what I was going to do, where I was heading."
Thompson said he saw Watson's passion for training and playing wane at times last year as the supplements saga dragged on, and believed the captain "could not even contemplate enjoying football" until the case was finalised.
WADA's appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport could now drag on into 2016 as the world anti-doping body seeks a stay of proceedings until sports scientist Stephen Dank announces whether he will appeal an AFL lifetime ban.
Dank has until Monday, July 20, to declare whether he will appeal.