Out of Touch, Out of Time, Out of Luck
As I’m in the midst of compiling a piece about the current state of Quarterbacks in the NFL and a situation of QB saturation, the news has broken that Colts QB Andrew Luck is retiring. This news is truly shocking and has rocked the NFL. Most are calling it the most shocking retirement in NFL history. I’m not an NFL historian, but I know that there have been many shocking retirements over the years including the likes of Barry Sanders and Calvin Johnson.
On the surface, the Andrew Luck news is hard to process - Luck is only 29 years old, he has only been in the league for 7 seasons, he threw for 39 touchdowns last season and was named AP Comeback Player of the Year. The hopes were high this season - that Colts roster is loaded on all fronts and I had the team 7th in my Post-Draft Power Rankings. With all that promise, it seems bizarre to call it a day at this point, especially with only 2 weeks to go until the start of the regular season. But, as always in life, hope and promise do not tell the full story.
When Luck entered the league, he was seen as a prototypical Quarterback - many still count him among their most highly-ranked prospects of all time. He had all the attributes you could require from a QB - intelligence, leadership, accuracy, arm strength, mobility, toughness. Perhaps it is those very attributes that have led to his early retirement. Luck’s ability to stand in the pocket and take a hit, knowing that he could still throw the ball accurately deep downfield whilst he was being taken down, was incredible to watch. But a man can only take so many hits.
In his 7 NFL seasons, Luck suffered a laundry list of injuries - torn cartilage in ribs, partially torn abdomen, lacerated kidney, a torn labrum in throwing shoulder, multiple concussions and most recently a calf/ankle issue. Those kinds of injuries take their toll on a person, not just physically but mentally too. Speaking on his retirement, Luck admitted that he felt “stuck” in a constant injury/rehab cycle, that his injuries had eroded “his love for the game”. It is impossible for any of us to truly understand what Andrew is going through in his mind, but a little understanding goes a long way.
It was shocking, then, to see Colts fans booing Andrew Luck at their week 3 preseason game. That action, by a minority of fans, is an egregious attack on a man who has given himself wholeheartedly to the Colts organisation and fanbase for the past 7 seasons. I understand that emotions run high, but we, as NFL fans, must remember that these players are human too. It is good to see that the majority of people have used their voices to thank Andrew Luck, to commend him on making a tough decision for his health and to wish him well for the future.
Speaking of the future, how does it look for the Colts? Well, that roster is stacked - they have great players on both sides of the ball and were a shoo-in to win their division with Luck at the helm. Luck’s spot will be taken by 26-year-old QB Jacoby Brissett who has had a strong showing in the preseason. Brissett is, obviously, not as talented as Luck, but he is a strong leader, he is well respected in the locker room, and he has shown positive development through his time in the league. I am excited to see this team play with Brissett as the starting QB and optimistic that they can still win games and get back to the playoffs.
Andrew Luck’s retirement shocked the NFL, but there is much we can learn from it. It takes a lot for a star quarterback, seemingly in his prime, to stand up and admit that for the sake of his health he needs to step away from the game. Here at Third & Long, we respect Andrew Luck for the way he played football and for standing up for himself and his health. Luck is a class act, and we wish him the best for the future - whatever that might be.