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Ken’s Column: No one has the right to criticize Andrew Luck for retiring

When I heard the news that Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck announced his retirement from the NFL at age 29, I, like most sports fans, was shocked.

I knew that he was struggling with an ankle injury and hadn’t been playing during the preseason, but I figured that he would start possibly two or three weeks into the regular season. I’m sure the coaching staff had a plan in place to get through the first few weeks of the season without Luck.

However, what is even more shocking to me is the criticism that he is taking from fans and from one former NFL quarterback, Steve Beuerlein. According to an article written in the New York Post by Justin Tasch, Beuerlein, who played quarterback in the NFL for 14 years, strongly criticized Luck via Twitter. “I’m a HUGE #AndrewLuck fan…always have been, but this I cannot defend or justify,” Beuerlein tweeted. “No scenario where retirement is defensible. To do this to teammates, organization, fans and the NFL two weeks before the season is just not right. I love the guy, but this will haunt him.”

First of all, nobody should know better about the painful injuries that NFL quarterbacks suffer from than former NFL quarterbacks. Luck has sustained severe injuries throughout his six-year NFL career. According to Zak Keefer, who covers the Indianapolis Colts for a Twitter page called “The Athletic HQ”, Luck has suffered from a torn cartilage in two ribs, a partially torn abdomen, a lacerated kidney, at least one concussion, a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder and the recent calf/ankle injury that has ultimately led him to retire. In my opinion, Beuerlein should know better and should be much more empathetic than that.

In an article co-written by Benjamin Hoffman and Ken Belson in the New York Times, Luck expressed how he has been feeling physically. “I’m in pain. I’m still in pain. I’ve been in this cycle for years,” Luck said. “Shoulder, ankle, and this and this and this. I don’t feel like I can live the life I want moving forward by playing football.”

With the injuries he has suffered, no wonder he wants to retire. For him, it’s probably a challenge just to get out of bed every day. I was also shocked at the disgraceful chorus of boos that were rained down upon him by Colts fans as he was walking off the field after the Colts lost their preseason game to the Chicago Bears 27-17 on Saturday, August 24.

During his six-year NFL career with the Colts, Luck produced a record of 53-33 and threw 171 touchdown passes in his first 100 starts. He trails Dan Marino, Aaron Rodgers and Brett Favre for the most touchdown passes thrown in an NFL quarterback’s first 100 starts. Luck is also a four-time pro Bowler and led the Colts to three-straight playoff appearances in his first three seasons. One would think those fans would be grateful for what he did. Instead, he was greeted with a cascade of boos.

Another analyst for FOX Sports, Doug Gottlieb, tweeted his criticism of Luck’s retirement: “Retiring cause rehabbing is “too hard” is the most millennial thing ever.” Doug Gottlieb is a former college basketball player. He hasn’t played a down in the NFL. Former Dallas Cowboys Hall-of-Fame quarterback Troy Aikman excoriated Gottlieb for his foolish tweet and rightly so.

Fans, former professional athletes and commentators, get off Luck’s back. You haven’t experienced what he has gone through. The injuries he suffered while playing in the NFL are more than enough for any player to consider retiring from the game. There is such a thing as life after football and Luck knows it. That’s why he’s getting out while he can still enjoy life. He and his wife are expecting a child as well. He wants to be able to spend time with his family without being hindered by any further physical pain. Considering the amount of injuries he’s endured, he is doing the right thing and no one has the right to criticize him for it.

 

Ken Gustafson is the sports editor for the Americus Times-Recorder. To contact him, email him at Ken.gustafson@americustimesrecorder.com, or call 229-924-2751.