Three-time premiership player Brian Lake admits to feeling that a comeback with Essendon would have stained his AFL career.
The Bombers tried to recruit the full back as one of their 10 top-ups for the season, following the loss of 12 players to doping suspensions.
Lake said on Thursday that he was pressured to return to senior football, but ultimately realised it would be for selfish motives and he would take weeks months to regain the necessary fitness.
His AFL career ended with his third-straight premiership at Hawthorn last September, including a smother on West Coast forward Josh Hill in the goalsquare during the final quarter.
The former Western Bulldogs defender noted that Hawks veteran Shane Crawford also went out with the 2008 premiership.
Lake and fellow veteran David Hale left Hawthorn in the wake of last year’s flag.
In stark contrast to Hawthorn’s current status, there is widespread speculation about whether the makeshift Essendon team can win at all this season.
Asked if he felt playing for the Bombers might stain his career, Lake told RSN927: “definitely it would be – there’s no better feeling than to have your last game (as a premiership win).
“You look at `Crawf’ as well … and a reasonably good smother to finish off in the last quarter as well.
“The pros and cons on it were ridiculous.”
Lake had a dig at North Melbourne veteran Brent Harvey in explaining why he might have continued.
Harvey could break the AFL games record this season.
“The only reasons I would have done it (are) selfish – if I was on 290 games and I wanted to get to 300, a bit like `Boomer’ who wants to break the record,” he said.
Lake said Essendon would have paid him about $150,000, plus match payments.
It would have reunited him at the club with old friend Adam Cooney, but Lake noted he would have needed to make up a lot of ground with fitness.
Lake said when his manager contacted him about Essendon’s offer, he was at a caravan park and had just knocked off a sausage roll for breakfast.
He remembered missing virtually the entire 2011 pre-season at the Bulldogs and said it would take until around round eight or nine to be ready for an AFL recall.
“Three months behind (in) football is a very long time even to catch up,” he said.