Source: Michael Conroy/AP
Andrew Luck's sudden retirement shocked the entire football world. Luck was only 29 years old and looked to be in the prime of his career, but in the last few seasons, he's been dealing with injuries and has missed almost two full seasons combined. Zac Keefer of the Athletic listed the injuries Luck has battled in his 6 seasons in the NFL:
» Torn cartilage in 2 ribs
» Partially torn abdomen
» Lacerated kidney that left him peeing blood
» At least 1 concussion
» Torn labrum in his throwing shoulder
» The mysterious calf/ankle issue that led to this.
Personally, I don't think Luck is done playing football. He needed a break. A break from playing football. A break from rehabbing injuries and trying to come back as soon as possible. A break from the physicality and punishment his body has gone through. Luck could come back in a few years. There's always a chance. Luck's surprise retirement though is always a reminder to fans that football is such a grueling sport no matter how safe the NFL tries to make it. It also shows that players from this generation are not afraid to walk away from the game on their time.
In recent memory, former Titans QB Jake Locker retired suddenly after just 4 seasons. The former 8th overall pick in 2011 dealt with injures and Locker didn't feel up to the task and said goodbye to football. Locker in his last two seasons only started 12 games and despite not having the success Luck had, being hurt over and over again can take the fun and joy out of the sport.
Other players like Calvin Johnson said adios to playing football during his prime. Johnson was one of the best receivers in the league when he retired in 2015. The former All-Pro wideout was unstoppable at times and was a catching machine. However, the combination of losing and injuries were just too much. Both reasons were enough for him to walk away from the game of football. Megatron made the Pro Bowl for six straight seasons (2010-2015), he also added 83 touchdowns in 135 games. Johnson should be a lock for the Pro Football Hall of Fame down the road.
Johnson wasn’t the only Lion’s legend to retire on top of his game, and this might say something about the organization, but Barry Sanders stunned the league 20 years ago when he announced his retirement. Sanders was still an elite back and on top of his game. He's been classified as one of the best running backs to ever play the game. Sanders decided he was finished after 10 seasons, where at the time he was just under 1,300 yards away from being the all-time rushing leader. Even so, Sanders was inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2004.
Another high profile player retiring this year was Patriots Tight End Rob Gronkowski. At the age of 30, Gronk decided to hang up his cleats. In the last few seasons, the three-time Superbowl champion was pondering retirement. Gronk could still pull up big numbers when the Pats call his number, but the surgeries, the injuries, they all added up. Gronk knew his body well and retired at the perfect time.
Other Notable players like Jarod Mayo, B.J. Raji, Jason Worilds, Chris Borland, Anthony Davis, and Patrick Willis retired prematurely in recent years too. As the list of players retiring early continues to grow.
Football players once had a gladiator mentality about the game, however, now that modern-day medicine has shed light on the long-term effects of concussions and other serious injuries, players are starting to look at their bodies differently. Many of them are just not willing to take their chances anymore just to play a few extra seasons of football.
Luck’s retiring was so shocking it was also anger-inducing to some. Some of the Colts fanbase boo'ed their former QB once the news leaked that he had retired from football. It's understandable that the fans will get mad, and in hindsight, most of them will probably regret their actions, but Luck just doesn't love the game anymore. His passion was gone. That would frustrate a lot of people if they weren't put in Luck's shoes. Luck knew his body and mind more than anyone. If anything Luck might have added more years to his life from leaving the game as early as he did, and it might pave the way for future NFL players.