On August 24, 2019, NFL quarterback Andrew Luck made the announcement that he would retire from the NFL at the age of 29, just before the start of the 2019 season.
The retirement came as a shock to the sports world, as Luck was the former first overall draft pick in the 2012 NFL draft and was one of the most hyped prospects in decades. Luck was also in the prime of his career and entering a season where his team, the Indianapolis Colts, looked to make a deep playoff run.
His decision to retire, which was leaked earlier than intended, was met with support on social media from various sports media members and professional athletes who were saddened but supportive of Luck's decision to put his health and happiness above the NFL.
Many of the fans of the Indianapolis Colts, however, reacted much more poorly to the news of his sudden retirement. Some fans in attendance at the Colts preseason game began booing Luck while he was on the sidelines of the field supporting his teammates, all while the news of his retirement was leaked to the media.
With everything Luck was giving the Colts with his on the field talent, the Colts front office management early in Luck’s career was largely responsible for ruining the career of one of the greatest prospects in recent sports history. Because they neglected to invest heavily in offensive line protection early in his career, he took 135 sacks in his first five years, which led to him racking up significant injuries that included torn cartilage, a concussion, a torn labrum, a lacerated kidney, torn abdomen and a calf injury that eventually led to his retirement.
Luck’s football career will go down as one of the biggest what-ifs in sports history. Prior to his time in the NFL, Luck was considered by many to be a generational quarterback prospect while he was a collegiate player at Stanford. Luck carried a significant amount of hype with him, with Bleacher Report even calling him “the best NFL prospect ever” before he had entered the draft.
Expectations of Luck were raised further when he was hailed as one of the greatest quarterback draft prospects ever and replaced legendary Colts quarterback Peyton Manning in Indianapolis.
Luck’s talent was proven when he broke the record for most passing yards by a rookie quarterback with 4,374 yards in his first season. He also led his team to the playoffs his first year after being the worst team in the league the year prior. His first three seasons in the league included three trips to the playoffs, including a trip to the AFC Championship game in 2015. He also led the league in touchdown passes in 2014 with 40.
With his torn labrum shoulder knocking him out of all of the 2017 season, he came back in 2018 to win the NFL Comeback Player of the Year award by throwing for 4,593 yards with 39 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. Now, a year later, after suffering a quad injury prior to the start of the 2019 season, he is retired from the NFL.
Luck cited injuries, exhaustion from rehab and losing his love of the game as the main factors in his retirement. Year after year of taking brutal hits at a high rate led to his body breaking down. He will now walk away from the game he loves, with football fandom divided on his decision.
The career that Luck ended up having in relation to his talent is an enormous tragedy. It was injuries and pain that ended his career, not his lack of talent or the retirement he likely dreamed of having where he would be much older in his NFL career, possibly with a Super Bowl ring or two. Instead he now retires in peace, and should be respected for doing what was best for his life, his family and his career moving forward.