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THIS pre-season Indianapolis Pro Bowl quarterback Andrew Luck made a choice. He made the difficult decision to quit the NFL at the age of 29 and live a better life.
His career, though excellent, was blighted with constant injury concerns and Luck clearly did not want to be 60 and unable to play with his grandchildren.
I can’t overstate how big a loss he will be to the league — he had the chance to be one of the all-time greats.
The news of Luck’s retirement became public during the Colts third pre-season game which lead to a post-game press conference for the player to announce his decision.
Luck was fighting back the tears as he said: “I’m in pain, I’m still in pain, I’ve been in this cycle for four years, shoulder, ankle and this and this and this.
“I don’t feel like I can live the life I want moving forward.”
He stated that the joy had been taken out of the game.
The Athletics Zak Keefer summed up Andrew Luck’s injuries on Twitter in a list which resembled a whole day’s work in A&E rather than something one man should have to bear.
He lists torn cartilage in two ribs, partially torn abdomen, lacerated kidney, concussion, torn shoulder cartilage and his current ankle problems.
Colts fans will be left wondering what might have been if Luck had the kind of offensive line protection he had last year for more of his career.
Having been one of the most hit quarterbacks, he is now protected by some of the best big guys in the league such as centre Ryan Kelly and guard Quenton Nelson.
You could be forgiven, however, for not having much time for fans of the Colts right now as those at the game chose to boo Luck rather than appreciate what a terrible position this young man has been put in.
Fans of teams have also embarked upon a new trend of filming themselves burning shirts of ex-players rather than being grateful for putting their bodies on the line striving for success with the side.
There has been a much more respectable response from the Colts who could have recouped $24.8 million from Luck’s current deal but have told him to keep it all.
Despite the focus on concussions in the NFL in recent years there isn’t a huge precedent for star players retiring early.
Ex-Lions receiver Calvin Johnson called it a day at his prime aged 30 with four years left on his contract.
Speaking in 2016, Johnson told the Detroit Free Press: “I’m beat up. After you play that long you’re going to be beat up so it’s just a time where you are content with what you did and I’m content with what I did so far.”
A player who could find himself in a very similar situation to Luck might be Carolina Panthers’ Cam Newton.
Another quarterback picked No 1 in the draft, the former league MVP spent most of last season struggling with a shoulder injury which resulted in Newton ending his season early once the Panthers were out of contention for the play-offs and has had his second shoulder surgery in less than two years.
Though Newton has been back from his shoulder injury and playing in the season’s warm-up games, he left last week’s match-up against the New England Patriots in a walking boot.
Andrew Luck was the first pick in the 2013 draft for the Colts. Just one season after releasing one of the best quarterbacks the league has seen in Peyton Manning, the Colts were accused of deliberately playing badly in order to get Luck because of how highly rated he was coming out of Stanford College.
This was known as “Suck for Luck” and with the latest big name quarterback making waves in college circles in Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence, Lawrence, who already has a College Championship in his freshman year, is a favourite to be picked No 1 when he declares for the NFL.
Will the Colts “Lose for Lawrence” or “Tank for Trevor?”
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