Luck Runs Out

I wasn’t old
enough to remember Barry Sanders retiring in his prime or even
Michael Jordan from the Bulls the first time, but I’ll always
remember the moment when it was announced Andrew Luck retired
unexpectedly from the Indianapolis Colts. The news broke while both
of my parents were at the preseason game and I  thought it was
terrible joke, a hacked social media account. Instead, a likely first
ballot Hall of Famer retired at the age of 29 ahead of a very
promising season.

The next John
Elway, the perfect replacement for the legend Peyton Manning, Andrew
Luck came in with high praise and high pressure and still delivered
in his first season. General Ryan Grigson was applauded for his first
draft with so many contributors coming from it for a team that was
drafting #1 overall. Instead history proved that Luck put the team on
his shoulders and carried them to the playoffs.

Three straight
11-5 seasons advancing further each season; the implausible comeback
against the Chiefs, beating Peyton Manning in his new building, Luck
immediately lifted the Colts. Then the terrible offensive line caught
up to him. Despite having their franchise quaterback Grigson refused
to do what he needed to do to keep him upright and  healthy. Now in
2019 the NFL will be without Andrew Luck.

Torn
cartilage, partially torn abdomen, lacerated kidney, concussion, torn
labrum and now the ankle injury are all the things Andrew Luck has
suffered through in his short career. When you put them all next to
each other it makes absolute sense that he’s tired of the cycle of
constant rehab. That doesn’t make it any less surprising just a week
before the start of the season, and a season in which the Colts could
threaten for a Super Bowl.

Fans cried all
over and fans booed Luck as he walked off Lucas Oil field for the
last time. This isn’t a decision Luck came to lightly and he owes the
fans nothing, but fan is short for fanatic. I don’t think it’s right
to challenge his toughness, look at the list of injuries, or to boo
him but it’s emotional. It was going to be another great season but
the anger is targeted at the wrong person.

Fans should be
mad at Grigson and fans should be mad at the Colts organization. For
the second time in just a few seasons season ticket holders spent
good money and won’t have their franchise QB, their potential Hall of
Famer. Now Luck himself said this decision really has arisen in the
last two weeks and gamesmanship with injuries is part of the game,
but the Colts left themselves with this ‘What if?’

Playing in the
NFL is accepting that it’s a physical game that injuries are always
going to be part of. Just tonight the Houston Texans lost Lamar
Miller for the season to a likely ACL tear. That’s happening while
there’s a shift in coaches sitting their important players. In the
Colts and Bears preseason game pretty much everyone important was sat
even though it was that third preseason game that is normally the
tune-up game. Meanwhile the 18 game schedule is being debated again
and this retirement should put a huge pause in that discussion.

It’s ironic
that with all these injuries and Luck retiring early that Tom Brady
and Drew Brees are over 40 and still playing at such a high level.
Their health is a result of several factors; system, team,
organization and also plenty of luck. ‘Sometimes it’s better to be
lucky than good’ and that is the downside of Andrew Luck’s football
journey, but his organization did not help him. Why did it take so
long for a Colts GM to get him a Quenton Nelson, Ryan Kelly and
Braden Smith?

There is so
much money in football and more coming. The last few seasons we’ve
seen more players calling it a career early because of injuries or
the fear of the risk to their long term health and I don’t think this
trend will stop. Now players can amass generational wealth sooner and
careers may just get shorter and shorter.

Still, with
all the rules to protect quaterbacks it still wasn’t enough to keep
Andrew Luck upright and ultimately injuries did him in. His
management failed him and he tried to tough it out for his team but
that instead cut his career short. It was tough for him and it was
tough for fans, all fans and not just those that cheer for
Indianapolis. This retirement sent huge ripples through the NFL and
something like this won’t go without some consequences for the rest
of the league.

No offense to
the other positions in the league but when something happens to a
quaterback it changes the league. You can’t tackle low because Tom
Brady tore his ACL, you can’t land on a QB because Aaron Rodgers
broke his collarbone. There was no specific injury for a rule change
but this will change things in the NFL.