McLachlan: I have Watson’s Brownlow

Jobe Watson has returned his Brownlow Medal, with AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan confirming the handover.

McLachlan has also defended the AFL’s public silence over James Hird’s health crisis, saying support was offered to the former Essendon coach through an intermediary.

The league will also make public a review of its investigation into the Essendon supplements debacle beforte the start of the season.

Last month, Watson officially lost his 2012 Brownlow as a result of the case.

The former Bombers captain was one of 34 current and former Bombers players who served doping bans last year.

McLachlan revealed Watson had handed back the medal to the AFL, but gave no further details.

“All I’m saying is, the medal is with me,” he said.

The AFL held a special ceremony last month where Brownlows were awarded to then-Hawthorn player Sam Mitchell and Richmond captain Trent Cotchin – the joint runners-up to Watson in the 2012 count.

McLachlan has also commented pubicly for the first time about Hird, who had a drug overdose last month and was hospitalised.

At the time, the AFL’s silence prompted criticism from some quarters.

But McLachlan noted Hird’s family pleaded for privacy in the immediate aftermath of the health crisis.

“We have reached out to the people we think and hope are having a dialogue with the family to make it clear our concern and to offer to do anything we can,” McLachlan said.

“Why we didn’t do that publicly is because this is a very distressing situation.

“It was clear from the family that it wanted to be quiet and our view was that anything we could make (sic) would have the risk of creating a whole series of other distractions and pressures.

“The appropriate reaction was to talk confidentially … and not speak publicly. If we could help, we’re there.”

The AFL banned Hird in August, 2013 for 12 months over the supplements saga.

He returned after the suspension, but left the club in August, 2015.

Asked if the AFL had contributed to last month’s crisis, McLachlan blunted replied: “I just think that’s entirely unfair”.

He dismissed as “100 per cent rubbish” speculation that the AFL had intervened to prevent Hird taking an AFL radio commentary role.

McLachlan added the AFL would welcome back Hird.

“Our industry has a history of being open and forgiving … he’s welcome back into football,” McLachlan said.

* All Offers and Promotions posted in this article excludes NSW residents.
Stay up to date with the latest sports news
Follow our social accounts to get exclusive content and all the latest sporting news!