Nathan Brown says he feels like he's "deserted my brothers" after penning a heartbreaking letter to confirm his AFL retirement.
Brown last week left the team's Queensland hub to return to Victoria for family reasons.
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The 31-year-old made the decision with support from the club, however, in a devastating letter to his teammates he revealed just how hard the decision was.
Brown started by apologising for "not saying goodbye in person" before explaining his gut-wrenching decision.
"I tossed and turned all night thinking about it but I love this group way too much and it breaks my heart even writing this as I feel like I’ve deserted my brothers in the heat of the battle," the letter read.
"So to look you all in the eye, it would have absolutely destroyed me."
Brown said he planned to retire at the end of the season but the drama caused by the COVID-19 crisis forced him to pull the pin early.
"2020, for f**k sake, you prick of a thing. You completely ruined my farewell tour."
Ultimately, it was because of his commitment to his family that forced Brown's hand.
"It’s the right time for me now to give what I have given football for the past 14 years to my other team – my girls," he said.
"They need their Daddy and Husband more than ever and there’s nothing that can be bigger than that. I thank you for understanding."
Brown spoke of the incredible journey he had gone on at St Kilda and thanked the coaching staff and his teammates for making it so memorable.
"It’s one of brotherhood, blood sweat and tears, freedom and love – pure footy at its essence," Brown wrote.
"That is the team I’m proud to be a part of and that is a team I’m proud to leave because I know the great people within it will taste the success they deserve.
Veteran defender thanks teammates and staff
"To the staff, you are as much a part of this team as the players. I thank you with all my heart for understanding me and guiding me to be better. The love and friendship I have for you guys is a credit to you all, not only as professionals but as people.
Brown wished his teammates the best and predicted big things for the club in the future, before leaving one final piece of advice.
"Embrace everything you do, good or bad, don’t get disheartened," he wrote.
"Experiences are what shape you and what make you grow as a person. Learn from them, learn from people who have had a lot of them, and use them to guide you in your next decision.
"Find your values and use them to keep you grounded and on task when you lose your way, but keep growing and adapting to whatever life throws at you and I guarantee you at the end, you will be proud.
Brown played 53 games for St Kilda since arriving at the end of 2016, but did not make a senior appearance this year.
The former Collingwood premiership defender did not have a contract in place for next season.
"At the right time, if Nathan has played his last game for the Saints then we will recognise his contribution appropriately," Saints chief operating officer Simon Lethlean said last week.
"But for the time being, we wish he and his family all the best."