Andrew Luck says he’s done with football. After six seasons in the NFL, his body has given out and he’s been forced to weigh the costs and benefits of sticking with what he loves and face questions I think many players will face in the near future.
Luck, at 29 years old, made the unpopular decision that worked for him and his family. While he’s not the first player to retire early, he is the first superstar to do so since 1999, when Barry Sanders walked away at age 30.
Let’s face it: he was a top-five quarterback in the league, but he couldn’t stay on the field — and the injuries he endured were major. Of course, there was the ankle injury that led to this, nonetheless his frustration with football rooted from the injuries.
“For the last four years or so, I’ve been in this cycle of injury, pain, rehab,” he said in a press conference addressing his sudden retirement on Aug. 24. “ … I felt stuck in it, and the only way I see out is to no longer play football. It’s taken my joy of this game away.”
His courage is infectious. He decided to walk away from the game when he was on the brink of becoming the face of the league, knowing he would be criticized for it.
But he didn’t care.
He felt he needed to do this for his family, and nothing else mattered to him. What people don’t understand is that professional athletes have lives other than the sport they play and in reality, their pro careers are brief parts of their lives.
If he was anything, he was smart and realistic.
Having already proven he was a great quarterback who can come through in big moments — which he did when he threw for nearly 450 yards as he led to a 28-point comeback against the Kansas City Chiefs in the 2014 Wild Card round and as he led the Colts to the AFC Championship — and nobody can take that away from him.
And other players should be inspired by him. Eventually, every player reaches a point where their passion for football is gone, because of the physical toll on their body.
Each physical interaction does something to the bodies, and having lineman fall on top of you time after time will catch up.