In their third preseason game Saturday, the Indianapolis Colts trailed the Chicago Bears heading into the fourth quarter. Despite their 0-2 record in preseason, the Colts could not have cared less about their performance. The team was heading into the season looking like a serious AFC contender and tied for the fifth best odds to win the Super Bowl. During the fourth quarter, however, fans took their eyes off the field and on to their phones where they got the news that their star quarterback, Andrew Luck, would be retiring from the NFL at the age of 29.
Now, there’s plenty to unpack here. First, this is one of the most shocking retirements in the history of sports. Coming off an MVP caliber season and leading the Colts to a 10-6 record, Luck was on track to have another successful year with the Colts. He had the second most-passing touchdowns and third most-passing yards in a players’ first six seasons in NFL history. To put it this way, it would be like if Joel Embiid or Blake Griffin retired right now. Both, like Luck, are young talents dominating their league who still have a whole lot of potential left.
Second, Luck’s retirement is just another example of how football wears players out both physically and mentally. Luck has dealt with various injuries in his career including a sprained shoulder that sidelined him for the entire 2017-2018 season.
After the game against the Bears, Luck said, “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.”
“I’ve been stuck in this process. I haven’t been able to live the life I want to live,” Luck continued. “[It has] taken the joy out of the game, and after 2016, when I played in pain and was unable to regularly practice, I made a vow to myself that I would not go down that path again.”
These are words from a man who’s been beaten down with bruises on his body and on his mind.
What stuck with me most about Saturday night is the lack of respect from Colts fans. Yes, it’s okay to be upset that your star quarterback left the team just before the regular season, but it’s just blatantly ignorant and disrespectful to boo him. After all, he did always give everything he had for the Colts.
From leading a 28 point comeback in the playoffs to pleading with Chuck Pagano to play even when they’re down by 30, Andrew Luck is nothing short of the ideal quarterback you want leading your franchise. He took the Colts to four playoff appearances and one conference championship in six seasons, while playing with injuries the majority of the time. Colts fans loved and cherished him, but the moment he takes a breath of honesty to say, “I’m really unhappy playing football and dealing with my all injuries. It’s becoming too much for me,” they treat him as an enemy.
Most importantly, however, it’s truly sad to see Andrew Luck leave the game. Luck looked like he was reaching his full potential after a stellar 2018 season, and to see him quit football this early in his career is truly heartbreaking. I personally was never a huge fan of Luck as I saw him as “the guy drafted before RG3,” but I’ve always respected his game and work ethic. His retirement will definitely go down as one of the biggest “what if” stories in the history of the NFL.
Best of luck to you, Andrew Luck.
Photo from Chris C. on Flickr