Luck hangs ’em up

Colts star quarterback suddenly retires

FLICKR | PHOTO COURTESY
Colts quarterback, Andrew Luck, retired on August 24.

On August 24, 2019 at 8:28 p.m. Adam Schefter dropped a Twitter bomb. He informed the world that Andrew Luck would retire. Anyone who was mid-drink did a spit take. Anyone who was driving had to do their best to not veer off the road. The 29-year-old just recently signed a mega-contract, was about to enter the prime of his career, and finally it would seem to have a good enough team around him to make a run at a championship. So why would he step away from the game two weeks before the season kicks off? 

Only he knows the true answer, but let’s speculate because we can. The first thing that comes to mind is Luck’s injury history. Throughout his six years in the NFL, Luck has torn cartilage in two ribs, partially tore his abdomen, lacerated his kidney, has had at least 1 concussion, tore a labrum in his throwing shoulder that some thought would end his career and just recently sustained a weird calf/ankle issue that nobody really knows the severity too. Talk about a rough go for a guy that was as good a quarterback prospect as anyone that has ever stepped into the league.

One can only imagine the physical and mental toll these injuries took on Luck. It certainly does not help that almost all these injuries have come within the last four years. Luck is still a young man with a family and has more money than he knows what to do with. Is it so crazy to think Luck does not want to put his future with them at risk? Playing in the NFL can affect people physically for the rest of their lives, so it is tough to blame Luck for not wanting to put himself at risk more than he already has. 

The second thing that comes to mind is maybe Luck has lost his love for the game. Football has always needed Luck more than Luck needed football. Luck is extremely smart and graduated from Stanford with a 3.48 g.p.a. and a degree in environmental engineering. It is just a bonus for him that he happens to be one of the best football players on the planet.

Luck even stayed at Stanford a year more than he had to. If he had declared early he almost certainly would have been a top-two pick in the draft. He stayed anyways, risking injury or regression in his play, both in which may have cost Luck millions of dollars. Luck seems to understand that he has tremendous athletic gifts, but knows that life is much more than a career in the NFL.

In reality is probably a combination of both his injuries and his lack of love for the game, mixed with some of his personal thoughts and feelings that led to his retirement. It does not take a rocket scientist to figure that out, but Luck’s retirement is one of the biggest stunners in recent history, so it is worth taking a look at. 

There is a common theme with all-time great players that retire in their prime. Jim Brown, Barry Sanders, and Calvin Johnson all seemed to have one thing in common: they did not believe they had anything left to give. Of course, physically they had had plenty left. However the grueling mental and emotional toll of playing professional football burnt them out. Why should they keep playing just because everyone says they should? The same will be said for Luck in the coming days and weeks. It is his own life, and he was brave enough to walk away when he wanted too, knowing full well the backlash he would receive.

One of the cool things about this story is the amount of support Luck has gotten. Yes, Colts fans did shower him in boo’s has he exited the field. Can anyone blame them? Was it the right thing to boo him? Probably not. However, these fans just learned their star quarterback was ditching out on his team with Super Bowl hopes. It was a knee-jerk reaction that actually makes sense.

Outside of those few fans, the number of coaches, teammates and people in the media supporting Luck’s decision have been enormous. Of course there will be the few bitter fans out there, but they are the outliers. Troy Aikman, T.Y. Hilton and Frank Reich have all gone out of their way to support the former quarterback.  

I will miss watching Andrew Luck play football. Luck was a special kind of talent. He made the NFL more fun. He came into the league having to follow the legend of Peyton Manning, but never let that phase him. As a player he was as tough as they come, a good leader, and a great teammate. As a man he was widely regarded as one of the NFL’s nicest dudes, and someone opposing players respected. I challenge you to go and find a teammate or opponent that has said one negative thing about Luck. Andrew Luck should walk away from the game with a big smile, and his head held high.

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