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Pickett adds to the exodus

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BYRON Pickett retired from AFL football on Friday afternoon, citing his waning passion for the game as the main reason for his decision to draw the curtain on his 204–game career.

Pickett was joined by fellow retirees Clint Bizzell and Nathan Brown when he made the announcement at Junction Oval, with all three set to play one final match for the club against Carlton on Sunday.

“I’ve been thinking it over the last month or two, and probably mentally I wasn’t there,” Pickett said.

“I just think it’s not in my heart to keep playing at this level, so I think that was the main thing.

“I spoke to my parents and my fiancée over the past two weeks and they all supported my decision.

“It’s not worth playing without heart.”

Pickett, 30, started his career at the Kangaroos after they selected him in the fourth round of the 1996 NAB AFL National Draft. He played the majority of his career at Arden Street, where he won the 1998 NAB Rising Star award, was All-Australian in 1999 and was a member of the premiership winning side of the same year.

He switched to Port Adelaide at the end of 2002 and was part of the club’s inaugural premiership in 2004. He won the Norm Smith Medal in the Grand Final.

Pickett was traded to Melbourne following the 2005 season where he will finish having played 29 games in two years.

“When I first started, I reckon I was pretty lucky to break into a team that was known as one of the teams of the 1990s,” he said.

“I was lucky to play in two Grand Finals there and win one. I played in a Port Adelaide premiership and I think on the day there were about three of us that could have got the Norm Smith Medal, but I was the lucky one I think.

“But over the years, you win friends for life, it doesn’t matter what team it is. I didn’t play in a premiership here and I’ve only been here for two years but it feels like I’ve been here for five or six years; that’s how close the boys are.”

Bizzell played 75 games with Geelong before switching to the Demons, with his career match tally set to end on 163.

“I was pretty much cooked,” Bizzell said.

“It’s been 12 years of just totally hammering the body physically and mentally. Physically I was pretty done and also mentally, just that desire to keep that fully competitive edge slowly withered away and I thought it was a good time to go out.

He said he had begun to assess his future after being sent back to Sandringham following his last game against the Kangaroos at Telstra Dome, with a household mishap later reinforcing his decision to retire.

“My fiancée threw me a banana when I was having some breakfast and I totally missed it,” he said drawing laughs from the gathered playing group.

“It landed in my Weet-Bix, which went everywhere, and I said to myself ‘Clint, you’ve probably had enough’.”

Brown had an equally entertaining spin on his own decision to pull up stumps.

“I sit in meetings now and it’s like Homer Simpson; ‘Blah, blah, blah’,” Brown said.

“It’s like that, and I don’t reckon you should be doing that.

“With the demands of AFL footy, you have to give it 110 per cent and I guess, mentally, I didn’t really know if I could go through with that.

“I’m playing pretty good footy but it’s just the right time for me. I’ve got a young family; I love my life, I love my wife.

“I got 10 years at this great club and life membership.”

All three were keen to go out with a win against the Blues and backed the playing group to bounce back strongly from a disappointing season in 2008.

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