Ran Out of Luck

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Ran Out of Luck

Andrew Luck's emotional press conference after announcing retirement (Photo courtesy of Coltsmilitia)

Andrew Luck's emotional press conference after announcing retirement (Photo courtesy of Coltsmilitia)

Coltsmilitia

Andrew Luck's emotional press conference after announcing retirement (Photo courtesy of Coltsmilitia)

Coltsmilitia

Coltsmilitia

Andrew Luck's emotional press conference after announcing retirement (Photo courtesy of Coltsmilitia)

On August 24, 2019, many people thought it was just an ordinary day across the sports world. The third week of the National Football League’s (NFL) preseason was wrapping up when the jaw-dropping tweet vibrated on everyone’s phones. It was from Adam Schefter who is an American sportswriter and television analyst, and people took notice. The tweet read, “Texans fear [running back] RB Lamar Miller tore his ACL, per source.” People were stunned as they worried about their fantasy teams. The next tweet that came through was far worse than an average fan could ever fathom, but it was especially worse for Indianapolis Colts fans. It said, “Andrew Luck has informed the Colts that he is retiring from the NFL…” Andrew Luck claims that he is retiring over mental stress, but there is cause to believe that there is much deeper reasoning to it.

So let’s start from the beginning of it all, not the start of his NFL career, but the start of his life. Andrew Luck was born into a very wealthy family. His father, Oliver Luck, was an Executive Vice President for the National Collegiate Athletic Association ( NCAA), and his mother was a lawyer. They raised him with high morals and ideals, as well as making sure that he was well educated. When he was a prospect out of Stratford High School, he had scholarship offers to play football for Northwestern, Oklahoma State, Purdue, Rice, Virginia, and Stanford. Ultimately, Luck chooses to attend Stanford, which raises the question, why? They had a first-time head coach, Jim Harbaugh, who led the Cardinals to a disappointing 5-7 record the year before which doesn’t qualify for a bowl game. There were better options available like Oklahoma State who had a 9-4 record and a bowl win with Mike Gundy at the reins as the head coach. Since his parents wanted him to be well educated, one can assume that he attended Stanford because it offered the best-educated school system out of the group. He also attended for four years instead of leaving for the NFL early, allowing him to complete his undergraduate playing football. He chooses to get his degree over going to the NFL early proving his desire for a degree. He then got drafted as the number one pick in the 2012 draft to the Indianapolis Colts. You may be wondering, “why and how is any of this information relevant to him retiring?” It’s quite simple; it’s because he retired at the young age of 29 after a couple of injuries. Which raises the questions, did he calculate when he wanted to retire and when one injury was one too many?

Luck’s love for football or willingness to give his 110 percent is not in question. He always wanted to win and did whatever it took to do so including sacrificing his body. The question is, did he notice what happens to players that play for 15 or more years or get hurt five to seven times, whether it’s a minor or major injury? He went to Stanford, so my answer to the question is yes. He knew when he wanted to retire, that he got hurt too much, and that he had a bright future after football. A quote from his retirement press conference states, “For the last four years or so, I’ve been in this cycle of injury, pain, rehab. And it’s been unceasing… And the only way I see out is to no longer play football. It’s taken my joy of this game away.” That’s why I believe Andrew Luck wanted to retire from football. He had gotten hurt too many times and had goals in life other than football. One last thing that might have crossed his mind is that you can’t do everything in life, physically, in your mid-30s (average age of retirement for every NFL quarterback) with severe injuries that you can do in your 20s (retired at 29).

Lastly, who is it to blame for Luck’s abrupt retirement? As much as it sounds like the blame is on Luck, it isn’t his fault. He just knew that it was time to call it quits. The people that should be accused are his former head coach, Chuck Pagano, and former general manager, Ryan Grigson. He suffered an incredible amount of injuries from the beginning of the 2015 season until his retirement. Most of his injuries proved to be extremely major even though they were brushed off lightly. The injuries that Luck sustained were a sprained shoulder in 2015, torn cartilage in his ribs in 2015, frayed labrum in 2016, a concussion in 2016, a reinjured shoulder in 2017, and a calf issue in the 2019 offseason that seemed to have no timeline for when it’ll be healthy. The biggest injury in these years was the shoulder injury he suffered in 2015. The trainers “misdiagnosed” how bad the injury was and he only missed a few games because of it. He ended up reinjuring it in 2017 because of this and missed the whole year. This is Ryan Grigson’s fault because he took advantage of a young Andrew Luck in 2015 and told him that he was good to go. Any young player doesn’t question anything when told they can play because they are young and wanting to go out and play. Grigson and Pagano knew this and took advantage of Luck for their gain. This caused them to go 4-12 in 2017, and Pagano and Grigson got fired. They also ruined Luck’s career in the process since he could never regain a healthy and strong arm like before.

The last reason to blame Grigson and Pagano is for their horrendous drafting abilities and inability to protect Luck. Part of the reason he got injured so much is that he had a terrible offensive line to protect him. He got sacked 156 times in 71 games excluding playoff games. That’s 2.3 times per game which is a tremendous amount. While they were in office, they only drafted four offensive linemen in the five years on Luck’s career and only two offensive linemen were picked before round five, which isn’t good since it decreases the possibility of having a talented and good one. Out of all the free-agent signings they had, zero of them were starting-caliber offensive linemen, let alone a pro bowler. They did a horrible job of signing players to protect him forcing Luck to get injured often due to the number of hits he had to absorb. They also didn’t have an effective defense. In the years of Grigson at the front office and Pagano at head coach while Luck was quarterbacking. They only ranked top ten once(number 9) and ranked as low as 30 one year. Out of the years they coached, they averaged 21 out of 32 on defense in his years there with former head coach, Chuck Pagano, and former general manger, Ryan Grigson. That’s why we should place blame on the Colts former head coach, Chuck Pagano, and former general manager, Ryan Grigson.

It’s upsetting that Luck had to retire so young because he was an amazing player, but even more than that, he is an amazing person. The front office finally assembled everything he needed to win a Superbowl. He had an offensive line to protect him that he did not have earlier in his career, a front office that cared for him, and a coach who knew what was best for him. Andrew Luck retired because he had one too many injuries, wanted to live a healthy life after football, and he was a well-educated man, and we should blame his former head coach, Chuck Pagano, and former general manager of the Colts, Ryan Grigson, for making him play through injuries for their gain. Andrew Luck will be deeply missed in the NFL, but his career will never be forgotten.

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