Jobe Watson - his new life

A baby on the way. An expanding Manhattan coffee empire. A new gym in one of New York’s hottest neighbourhoods. Even Jobe Watson is startled by how much his life has changed in the past two years.

Today the former Essendon skipper radiates happiness and tranquillity, but this wasn’t always the case. At the start of 2016, Watson was in a tough place. At the height of his career, he was handed a 12-month ban by the AFL, had become a central figure in the harrowing three-year supplement scandal that decimated his beloved club, and his passion for football was waning.

“I was really uncertain about what the future looked like for myself and where I was really at,” Watson says. “I think I’d lost the passion for that industry and I’d probably become affected by what had happened.”

“I just decided that I really wanted to be somewhere else and I wanted do something else and I wanted to experience different things.”

And what could be more different than New York City? With no job and no plans, Watson packed his bags and headed for the Big Apple; a city where he knew just two people. Little could he comprehend how much the decision would change the course of his life.

We’re speaking to Watson over breakfast at Hole in the Wall, his cafe in New York’s Financial District. He is in town for just two weeks to open his new gym, an F45 franchise in Williamsburg, and to scout locations for another cafe.

While many footballers and athletes talk about the struggles they face with identity in retirement, Watson, 33, has gone from strength to strength.

He credits his year off, which included eight months of working as a barista in New York, as an incredible opportunity that allowed him to discover who he was; something he says athletes don’t get a chance to do.

“I got great perspective on life by being here on what’s important and what I found interesting. Those gap years that people do when they’re at university about ‘who am I?’; what do I like?’; ‘what do I want to be?’ — as an athlete, you don’t have those questions, so I think that leads to fear and uncertainty, and that creates anxiety and depression.”

“People [in New York] didn’t have any knowledge of what had happened and what was going on. I think it just allowed me to be willing to try new things and have new experiences.”

Watson speaks passionately about the need for professional footballers to find renewed purpose in retirement.

“The whole idea: ‘nothing is as good as what it once was’ — it’s never going to be like that. That’s not what life is about, looking in a rear view mirror. You have to look forward. But you can’t look forward comfortably without knowing you who are.”

Today, Watson is based in Melbourne where he also runs a property business. His first child with his partner, Dutch model Virginia Slaghekke, is due in September.

They met at a cafe in Williamsburg when Watson wrote his number on a napkin and, while it took her six weeks to get back to him, they’ve been inseparable since.

Despite his best intentions, Watson didn’t touch a football the entire eight months he was in New York and says he grappled with the decision to come back to Melbourne to play a final season for the Bombers in 2017.

“I guess I was a bit hesitant to go back into it, but I felt like it was what I wanted to do. I really felt like it was important to finish the career on my own terms and go out that way — to go out and play with the other guys; to play for the club; and also for the fans and supporters.

“It probably would have just felt unfinished and a little bit open-ended as a career.”

When asked whether he will return to football in a coaching position, he says he currently has his mind on other things.

“If I really want to go back into football it’s because I’ve tried different things and I’ve realised, ‘no, footy is really what I love and that’s what I want to do’, rather than just doing it because it’s safe and it’s all I know. To me, that’s not really interesting. I’m not really an interesting person if I’m just doing one thing all my life.”

Listening to Watson speak today, it’s hard not to be struck by how at peace he is with his past; how he credits it for everything good that is in his life now.

“I think when you go through that kind of change, you have resistance to it, and there’s adversity and there’s fear attached with it,” he says.

“If I look back on what happened in 2016; there were all those feelings of fear and anxiety and pressure and uncertainty, but that was where all the opportunities for everything that happened came from. At the time, I wouldn’t have thought anything like that. That’s often, I think, the case – change creates so much uncertainty and fear, but that’s where the growth is.”


Champion player and person


■■■■ me I love this bloke

I will never forget the way he represented this club on and off the field.

At the height of his career he would have been a top 5 player.



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At the height of his career he was a top 1 player.

Never forget, never forgive.


How anyone can ever believe this man was/is not genuine in everything he does is unfathomable.


Whatever Jobe chooses to do, he will be successful at it because he is excited by opportunity and possibilities and he is about to become a Dad.

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Favourite moment was that rapturous applause when he returned to the bench after kicking that goal on Anzac day




His influence on our club will always be felt, A better person is hard to find.

I know he knows how important he was and is to all of us.

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So much class in the way he articulates himself

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How will his child get Father Son/Daughter from the USA? International rookie?

Good to see he is happy doing well and about to become a Dad.

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Great to see he’s enjoying a successful life, in all dimensions. He certainly deserves it after the way the AwFuL treated him.


Cat B rookie! We won’t even have to use whatever bidding/points they have in place. Unless of couse the AFL realise we stand to gain an advantage through their own rules and thus change it the year before it benefits us.

But they would never do that, would they?


thats my best moment at the football. bar none. maybe the carlton comeback in 2013 when carlol went apeshit comes close, but the whole farking wing stood up when he got to the bench. it was amazing.


As Neale Daniher said, nothing can fk with your attitude.

Jobe could have easily swallowed bitter pills like Bomber Thompson,but clearly hasn’t.

And the circumstances both now find themselves in couldn’t be further apart.


Brownlow Medalist.
One of our best Club Captains and leader of men.
Champion Human Being.

This is how I choose to describe Jobe.


Good for him.

Terrible for the club as I assume any child will play American sports. There goes that family linage. :unamused:

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Ol’ Gil will have relocated Western to California by 2035, surely?

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