Saturday night, Indianapolis Colts star quarterback Andrew Luck shocked the sports world by announcing his retirement from football, doing so at the age of 29 and coming off one of his best seasons in 2018 that saw him win the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year award.
Of course, Luck earned that award thanks to a return from one of the multiple injuries that had plagued his promising career, and he was rehabilitating from yet another injury prior to his abrupt retirement.
In an impromptu press conference Saturday night, Luck called his retirement the hardest decision of his life, and I believe him. For starters, Luck probably knew there would be a negative reaction.
With news of Luck’s decision leaked and circulated around the stadium at the Colts’ preseason game Saturday night, his own home fans mercilessly booed him as he exited the field. Beyond upset Indianapolis fans, vitriol from fantasy football owners who already drafted Luck had to have been even worse. A video of one of those angry owners, O.J. Simpson, made the rounds on Twitter (might want to beef up Luck’s security for that alone).
Further, it had to have hurt Luck to let down his teammates and team staff at the only NFL team he has ever played for. During his announcement Saturday, Luck described how his multiple injuries sapped his joy for the game.
“For the last four years or so, I’ve been in this cycle of injury, pain, rehab, injury, pain, rehab, and it’s be unceasing, unrelenting, both in-season and offseason, and I felt stuck in it,” he said. “The only way I see out is to no longer play football.”
Just two weeks before the start of the regular season wasn’t the best timing for this decision, but, as is the case with many things, life doesn’t follow a schedule. And, while letting down his team must’ve been a concern, Luck would’ve done a larger disservice to the Colts by giving only a half-hearted effort to this extremely difficult game.
Football fans often have the mindset that these players’ entire lives revolve around the sport. To an extent, that’s true, but they’re also human beings with other priorities. Luck got married in March, and in June announced he and his wife are expecting their first child.
In an NFL career that has included two serious shoulder injuries, a lacerated kidney, a torn abdominal muscle, concussions and, most recently, an ankle injury, Luck has already placed himself at risk to not be able to grow old with his now-wife or play with his soon-to-arrive child, and decided to not add to that risk by walking away from football in his prime.
It’s a decision that could have cost Luck $24.8 million dollars that the Colts have the right to recoup from his contract, but, to its credit, the team is reportedly planning to allow Luck to keep that money.
Luck did not take an easy way out here, and it was the right thing for him to do.