The NFL has lost one of its best, but the world hasn’t – and that’s probably something that we can all be thankful for. Andrew Luck shocked the sporting world last night when he decided he would retire from the game at the age of just 29. What is perhaps most shameful is the booing that Luck endured as he left the field last night at Lucas Oil Stadium. Colts fans evidently weren’t happy about this man making the right decision for the future of his family.
— Jeff Wagner (@Jeff_Wagner4) August 25, 2019
Let’s be clear about one thing: when you’ve torn cartilage in two ribs, partially torn your abdomen, lacerated a kidney, been concussed a number of times, torn a labrum and developed a pain in your ankle that makes it tough for you to generate any power off your standing leg in the name of an organisation – you owe them nothing.
What price would you put on your health, out of interest? Given current trajectories for quarterbacks in the NFL, Luck has probably walked away from $250,000,000. The key part of that sentence is not the big number, but the fact he could walk away at all.
If Luck had been an average player, nobody would be batting an eyelid.
The fact anyone is annoyed about is simply because he’s talented – and fans of the Colts and the wider NFL should be thanking him for all the good times and highlight-reel clips he’s provided.
The 29-year-old went to Stanford, which means he’s highly intelligent. The only thing that rivals his IQ is his sensibility. And thankfully, at that. Luck announced in summer that his wife was expecting their first child. At a certain point, when you’re in a constant pain cycle, you need to put your family first.
For far too long, athletes have given their lives to be paid well. It’s all they’d ever known – that you play kiddie ball, then go to junior high, onto high school football and finally to college. This entire process in the US leads you to get to the NFL, and it’s not for money. It’s for fame, for a dream that’s been drilled into you since you were a child.
There have been some cases in the past where injuries sustained in the NFL have gone on to ruin lives. Luck’s on course to exceed most of those given his injury history and if he feels he can no longer safely go to work, then he should retire.
Issues arise over the timing of his decision, but in reality, this has probably been on his mind for some time. The Colts have built a team around him and were primed for a Super Bowl run this year. Now they have to start all over again – but it’s nobler of Luck to inform them now than to play through pain and perform below par.
In far too many cases, professional athletes feel obliged to hide their mental and physical trauma. Luck has broken the mould before he could break himself and that’s to be applauded. The 29-year-old is a hero for his stance, not the anti-hero he’s being painted out to be.