Mathew Stokes questioned whether he had enough drive to play another AFL season before signing up with Essendon. Life after football was treating him well – he was keeping reasonably fit, but also enjoying "a couple of cakes at morning tea and a few beers after work".
He liked the idea if being a one-club man, after playing two premierships with Geelong.
"After the last year finished up, I was pretty happy to walk away from footy," he said.
Stokes admitted Essendon officials needed to do some convincing to get him back out on the training track.
"That was the biggest part of my decision, whether I was ready to put everything back out there and get my body in the condition it needs to be to play AFL footy," he said.
"Also the desire to want to play AFL footy, once you've done it for a long time and you retire you end up getting used to life without the football, and it's quite enjoyable to be honest.
"But this is a really unique situation and will probably never happen again in the AFL."
That close friend and fellow ex-Geelong player James Kelly joined the red and black helped convince Stokes it would be a good opportunity.
He was interested in the personal challenge that getting back into elite shape posed and liked the idea of helping out some of the younger players at the club.
Stokes had been working for the AFL and his bosses had agreed to give him leave to play for the Bombers.
"I was really enjoying my job and wouldn't have given it up for a seven month contract," he said.
But no matter how well he played this year, the 31-year-old said there was no chance he would stay on in 2017.
"This is a really unique situation and will probably never happen again in the AFL."
"The only reason this is really appealing and something I really looking forward to is it's such a short-term contract," he said.
Stokes said he and Kelly were reasonably confident they could be ready to play for round one.
The half-forward cycled 20km and ran laps with his new team early on Saturday morning and said he hoped he could help bring some fun back to the club.
Stokes said he had been proud of being a one-club player and although he was at Essendon this year, his heart remained with Geelong.
"I'll always be a Cats man, no matter what," he said.