Indianapolis Colts franchise player Andrew Luck announced his retirement from the NFL at the age of 29 on Saturday night, sending fans at Lucas Oil Stadium and on social media into a mad frenzy over what this means for the future of their franchise. The 4-time Pro Bowl QB made the decision to walk away after just seven seasons, being taken 1st overall in the 2012 NFL Draft.
Luck was touted as a generational talent, similar to the likes of fellow Stanford star John Elway and Peyton Manning, the beloved player he'd take over for in Indianapolis. Luck had all the tools to become an all-time great including phenomenal arm strength, pin-point accuracy, a physically imposing build, electrifying speed, and an elite play making ability. But all of those attributes are now gone, with Luck walking away from a game he used to enjoy, citing mental exhaustion as a main reason for this decision.
Colts fans have a right to be upset, frustrated over not getting to see what could been with this generational talent. Season ticket holders have a right to be upset too paying their hard earned money expecting one product and getting another just two weeks away from the regular season. But booing a man off the field who carried this franchise during his time here is a disgraceful act by a spoiled fan base.
Colts fans are far better than that with the unending support they showed Chuck Pagano during his battle with cancer. Luck's retirement was unconventional to say the least, breaking in the middle of a preseason game. But this leak of information shouldn't cause fans to be this upset over a game. At the end of the day, that's all that football is, it's a game. Teams win and teams lose, players get hurt, and players walk away. Luck went to battle for his teammates, the city of Indianapolis and Colts fans everywhere for the entirety of his tenure with the team. Colts fans were blessed enough to have Peyton Manning for as long as they did, winning division titles and staying atop the AFC year after year.
Colts fans then had the incredible fortune to follow the Manning era up with the next best prospect other than Manning in Luck. For the Luck era to end so suddenly with no real obvious warning is a major blow. But fans should have seen this coming a long time ago.
Luck up until last year had taken an unholy beating in the pocket, trying to make the mediocre players around him better. The wear and tear on his body was ignored by ousted GM Ryan Grigson and head coach Chuck Pagano in a list ditch effort to save their own jobs. This selfish short-sighted move led to Luck developing a PTSD like hesitance in his later years, growing to loath a game he once found solace in. It wasn't Luck who brought in players past their prime like Frank Gore to establish a running game. It wasn't Luck who hired a defensive coach and he certainly wasn't the one who drew up the worst fake punt in NFL history.
But it was Luck who turned a 5'11 T.Y. Hilton into a Pro Bowl receiver. It was Luck who made a 2-14 team into a playoff contender, winning 11 games in his first three seasons with virtually no help. The Colts wasted their generational talent by not providing him with the supporting cast he needed and more importantly deserved.
Despite playing for such a short tenure, he compiled over 23,000 yards and 170 touchdowns and still managed to throw less interceptions than Peyton Manning did at the age of 29. Luck accomplished all of this with subpar talent and a laundry list of injuries.
All of these injuries mounted over time leading to Luck's premature departure from the NFL. But having earned more than $90 million before taxes and a degree from Stanford, Andrew will be more than fine after football. It takes guts to walk away from a contract valued at $139 million. But there are things more important than a career or a place in NFL history as an all-time great. Luck recently found out he will be a father and wants to enjoy time with his kids without the burden of pain or mental stress. No one should be upset by this sentiment.
Priorities change and athletes owe fans nothing. Period. It's their bodies, their blood, their sweat, their tears and lucrative careers to salvage or walk away from in the end. This move leaves the Colts in a pinch and changes the outlook of their franchise for years. But Calvin Johnson, Barry Sanders, Jim Brown, and Patrick Willis all walked away in their prime too.
Sure, none of them are QB's, but good for Andrew Luck to have the self-awareness it takes to make such a decision. The fact that Andrew recognizes his mental exhaustion is a step in the right direction to ensure he gets mentally healthy. Mental health is major problem that needs to be treated delicately. With the number of players that are citing CTE and other health problems, this demonstrates just how stressful professional football can be to athletes on multiple fronts.
For those who are bitter enough to call Andrew Luck soft, a bust or have the audacity to say he's not the ultimate competitor need to have their own self-reflection. This news doesn't help the team and will likely take years to overcome. But if given Luck's extensive injuries, lack of a consistent supporting cast, and financial security to fall back on, these critics would do the same as Andrew. He certainly isn't a bust and proved he is an elite talent at the NFL level. He's not Jamarcus Russell or Johnny Manziel. He represented the city of Indianapolis with class, humility, and consistent play during his time.
Luck's retirement from the NFL will be considered one of the most shocking and disappointing ends to a career, given his immense unfulfilled potential. But it shouldn't come as a shock to fans or critics of Luck that he was approaching the end. Andrew shouldn't be vilified for this decision but should instead be commended for the courage it took to walk away from a game he once loved.
Jimmy Kennedy, who believes Luck made the right decision for him & that's really all that matters can be reached at email@example.com