I was out with friends (which is a rarity for me these days) enjoying their company at a local sports bar while taking in the Florida-Miami college football kickoff soirée. Only 30 minutes before my buddies and I were literally discussing the best six quarterbacks entering the 2019 season. Of course Andrew Luck’s name was mentioned in the conversation. Questions arouse like:
Can he stay healthy?
How scary are the Colts this year if healthy?
Every narrative imaginable. Indianapolis is one of the teams in the AFC that can make things quite interesting at the top.
Then a red ESPN/ABC ticker scrolled across the bottom of the screen.
Andrew Luck has decided to retire from the NFL due to ‘being mentally wore down’.
On one hand I was shocked. The guy is only 29 years old. He seems to love the game of football in such a genuine and authentic fashion. On the other hand, if you’ve followed him closely over the last few years and the injuries this guy has worked through, in all honesty you really shouldn’t be shocked either.
For context and reminders sake, here is the laundry list of injuries Andrew Luck has sustained through his NFL career courtesy of Indy beat writer Zak Keefer of The Athletic
Now first let me address the fans. I get the criticisms. I get the booing at the stadium in the reactionary moment when word got out that he was retiring even though he had planned on making the announcement 24 hours later. I don’t have to like it. In fact I don’t. But what have I said for years. Sports, love it or hate it brings out the absolute stupid in people. Acts like that for me however have become more of an expectation than a shock. But it shouldn’t reflect as the be all, end all of the Indianapolis Colts fan base. I refuse to let a group of maybe 100 fans dictate the overall narrative of a fan base.
The reaction to the news nationally has been mostly positive. Sure there are a few dolts that has made questionable comments about it. Washed up radio personality Doug Gottlieb who is only known more for his contrarian hot takes and less for quality radio content probably had the absolute worst of the weekend.
Thankfully NFL Hall Of Famer and fellow Fox Sports teammate Troy Aikman put his ass in his place with a reply that shook the Twitter-sphere.
As for me I got into a few spats on social media with some regarding this very topic. Some of it has been productive. Others just straight up nonsensical. It is certainly beyond comprehension that there actually people who exist and spend time sitting behind a keyboard and/or their smart phone with the nerve to tweet that Andrew Luck was soft for retiring only 7 years into a sure fire Hall Of Fame career. To which I say, if you have questions re-read the list of injuries he has gone through in just 7 seasons.
It is also quite sickening hearing people rationalize situations like these in an effort to make themselves feel better or sound smarter. Fact of the matter is you can’t compare. Not unless you are a part of the game. Which is what bothered me about a few members of the media making asinine statements. Certainly not to the level of the moronic Doug Gottlieb. But nonsensical nonetheless.
Andrew Luck’s career through 7 seasons may be enough to garner some Hall Of Fame whispers. Sadly I do not think he will get in. Some will say because guys like Gale Sayers, who himself played 7 NFL seasons, yet is looked at as one of the top 5-10 running backs in the history of the sport and is in Canton that this should help Luck’s chances. I thought about that on Saturday night. The problem is that the eras both men played in are vastly different. Availability does matter. Availability is precisely what will help Eli Manning’s chances of getting into the Hall despite many subpar seasons circled around his two historic Super Bowl wins over the New England Patriots in 2007 and 2011.
Unfortunately it will not help Andrew Luck a single bit.
I could be wrong though.
As for the Colts. They are actually still in a solid situation. Their backup Jacoby Brissett is a bright young quarterback who showed lots of promise in 2017 when Luck missed the entire season due to injury. He could start on as many as 8-10 teams right now outside Indianapolis.
That is a fact.
Things could be a whole lot worse for Indy. Now whether or not they can compete among the top of the AFC alongside the Patriots, Kansas City Chiefs and others is a whole other conversation. We will see how it plays out.
Above it all, Andrew Luck will be missed and he made the right decision. For himself. His family. His mental state. I respect it.
A guy who came into league and played the game with a sense of joy. Joy that he admittedly confessed that he no longer possesses for the game of football.
Folks, you can’t just concoct that. It just is what it is. It is a natural feeling. Quite frankly wouldn’t he be doing a bigger disservice to Colts fans if he was to play the game knowing his heart was not into it? See no one thinks about this from that angle.
Best wishes to you Captain Andrew Luck.