Colts Quarterback Andrew Luck
I guess I was as shocked as most people when Colts quarterback Andrew Luck revealed he was retiring from the game last week.
On further review, I should have known better.
I remember when former Panthers owner Jerry Richardson told me my phone that he would draft the best quarterback available with the number one pick after their 2-14 disaster in 2010.
Richardson, and everyone else assumed that Andrew Luck would be that top choice.
A no brainer indeed.
But Luck surprised the football world by not coming out as a junior, as expected, and would return to Stanford for his senior campaign.
Luck was his own man then, and was his own man now.
He did what is rare nowadays, turning down a healthy contract and getting his pro career underway.
As it turned out, Carolina drafted Cam Newton, and the Panthers haven’t looked back, reaching the Super Bowl on one occasion.
Ironically, Newton was ineffective last season with a shoulder injury and recently suffered a mid-foot sprain that put him in a walking boot.
But he’s out of the boot now, and the prognosis is he’ll be ready for the season opener.
It is ironic because the man Carolina missed on drafting has ended his pro career because of a rash of debilitating injuries.
Luck was the franchise quarterback the Colts hoped he would be when he succeeded the great Peyton Manning.
I won’t list all the numbers you can read elsewhere, but his record, by any analysis was outstanding. Unquestionably so.
But the injuries which forced him to miss extended periods of time took its toll, making him, as he put it, “mentally worn down”.
While I’ll refrain from offering statistics, I will note his injuries over his six NFL seasons:
Torn cartilage in two ribs, a practically torn abdomen, a lacerated kidney, at least one concussion, a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder, and the latest, and the final straw, a mysterious calf/ankle issue that led to his shocking decision.
Through it all, Luck returned in 2018, after missing all of 2017, and earned the Comeback Player of the Year award.
So, at the age of 29, Andrew Luck walks away from football.
But not without, some of the most scathing criticism, mostly on social media.
Also, when the crowd at the Colts last pre-season game in Indianapolis got wind of his retirement, there were unmistakable boos cascading down, to the point Luck admitted he was hurt by the fans’ reaction.
Can you believe that?
I can sense that playing football was what Andrew Luck did, not who he was!
He is apparently, a man of intelligence, and sensibility. He is an avid reader, and loves historical fiction the most. He realizes his life may not be what he envisions if he continues to try and perform amid the physical and mental pain he has had to experience and could still face more.
He has a family to consider.
But social media can be evil, and it showed its ugly head with average fans ripping his decision, as if any of them had one clue as to the sacrifices any athlete makes, particularly those who reach the very highest level.
Nor do they have an inkling of what it’s like to have to rehab an assortment of injuries which are far from minor.
Or know what’s in the heart and soul, and head of a man who has brought much joy to the fans of a sport. And is crushed he can’t enjoy a full career like a Tom Brady can.
It’s too bad the selfishness of many emerge, who only care about their enjoyment in watching the NFL.
Some, who should know better, even questioned his determination to rehab.
They talk of the money involved, as if playing pro football for a guy like Andrew Luck was about money.
Luck has earned close to $100 million in his career, the Colts could force him to pay them a $12 million roster bonus this year, but they are letting him keep the money.
Of course, this is a smart move if Luck decides to come out of retirement at some point, and that’s always a possibility.
The club also revealed that the quarterback could have earned $500 million more before his life in the league came to an end.
How much money does Andrew Luck need?
How important is all of that compared to his ability to lead a healthy and fruitful life?
It doesn’t matter how much cash the man left on the table.
To my way of thinking, Andrew Luck is a hero.
End of story.
Andrew Luck announcing his retirement.
Someone who did not leave any money on the table last week, was Rory McIlroy
In winning the Tour Championship, the finale of the PGA season, McIlroy took home $15 million, the richest payout in the history of golf.
The 30-year old has been a perennial fan favorite, but lately has come up short when he’s been in position to contend or win.
He’s captured both The Open (British) Championship and the U.S. Open crown once and on two occasions won the PGA Championship.
A year ago he was paired with Tiger Woods in the final pairing, and wound up, in effect, a spectator, falling out of the running as Tiger ran off with the victory.
It has been awhile since this popular golfer has been on top at a major or at the grand finale of the season. He won the Tour Championship in 2016.
After a three-year drought, Rory McIlroy is on top once more.
So that wraps up the recent stories of two prominent athletes, born four months apart.
One, whose career apparently is over prematurely.
The other, whose career got a much-needed boost.
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