Posted on August 25, 2019, by Bryan Zarpentine
NFL fans who went to bed early on Saturday woke up to some shocking news on Sunday morning. Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck has announced his retirement from the NFL. Seemingly in the prime of his career, Luck is walking away from the game, saying that injuries have taken away his love of the game and left him mentally run down. Two weeks before the first Sunday of the regular season, Luck’s announcement leaves fans stunned and the Colts scrambling.
News of Luck’s decision leaked out while the Colts were playing the Bears in a preseason game. Luck had planned to host a news conference on Sunday to announce his decision. But once the story was reported, he held a spontaneous press conference to explain why he’s leaving football just a few weeks shy of his 30th birthday.
“I’ve been stuck in this process,” an emotional Luck said Saturday night. “I haven’t been able to live the life I want to live. It’s taken the joy out of this game … the only way forward for me is to remove myself from football. This is not an easy decision. It’s the hardest decision of my life. But it is the right decision for me.”
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As mentioned, injuries have taken a toll on Luck both physically and mentally. They started when he missed the second half of the 2015 season after suffering a lacerated kidney and a partially torn abdominal muscle. Luck also missed the first two games of that season with a shoulder problem that lingered until he had surgery to address it following the 2016 season. That surgery ended up keeping him on the sidelines for the entire 2017 season.
Of course, Luck returned to the field in 2018 and looked like his old self. He set a career high in pass attempts, but also set new career highs in completion percentage and passer rating while leading the Colts to the Divisional Round of the playoffs. Luck also made the Pro Bowl for the fourth time in his career and looked like he was back to being one of the elite quarterbacks in the NFL.
However, a calf issue has kept him from participating in training camp or preseason games this year. Being sidelined yet again got Luck thinking about retirement, something he says he first considered two years ago. He began talking to Colts GM Chris Ballard and other team representatives early in the week and later reached his decision to call it a day.
“I’m in pain; I’m still in pain,” Luck explained. “It’s been four years of this pain, rehab cycle. It’s a myriad of issues — calf strain, posterior ankle impingement, high ankle sprain. Part of my journey going forward will be figuring out how to feel better.”
Sadly, some Colts fans were booing as Luck walked to the locker room after Saturday’s preseason game, having heard the news during the game. Luck admits it hurt to hear some of the fans reacting that way. However, he’s received nothing but support from Ballard, team owner Jim Irsay, and Colts head coach Frank Reich.
“We have nothing but gratitude and thankfulness for the blood, sweat, and tears he spilled as No. 12,” Irsay said. “Part of our heart is broken tonight. We know we must go forward.”
The Colts will be moving forward with Jacoby Brissett as their starting quarterback. Brissett started 15 games for the Colts while Luck sat out the 2017 season. He appeared in four games as a backup last season. Despite the Colts going 4-12 in 2017, Brissett showed some potential, throwing for over 3,000 yards and 13 touchdowns. Given the team’s success last season, Indianapolis should have a better supporting cast around Brissett than he had two years ago, so all may not be lost in 2019.
As for Luck, his legacy likely remains incomplete. He was considered a generational talent as the first overall pick in the draft in 2012. Before injuries started to become an issue in 2015, he did look as if he would fulfill much of that promise. Unfortunately, we will never know if Luck would have become the greatest of his generation had he stayed healthy and continued his career. Despite the shock and disappointment, we must all respect Luck’s decision to retire from football on his own terms.