Football players retiring while in their prime is nothing new. Generational talents like Barry Sanders and Calvin Johnson retired at 30, with both players operating out of skill positions that can see a lot of contact on the field. The retirement of Andrew Luck however, a generational player heralded by many, is not only shocking but practically unheard of as the position itself is so protected, Quarterbacks are playing well past their prime.
Luck had none of that in Indy. An incompetent GM in Ryan Grigson spent far more money on all other positions than investing in a competent offensive line to keep Luck upright. Instead, he was constantly harrassed, hit, and put in harm’s way as it forced him to improvise and make big plays. This left him open for some massive hits and regardless of how built you are, no one can take that many hits and remain unscathed.
Think of David Carr with the Texans, a quarterback with loads of potential only to see it squandered as he quickly became the most sacked Quarterback in the league as a starter. Carr could barely drop back before he was being overtaken by a defender, it was sad, and he never got to be the player many projected him to become.
Hearing about all of Luck’s injuries made it seem like he was playing a position that frequently sees contact. A torn labrum, lacerated spleen, concussions, and a host of other injuries would make any individual consider retiring. The human body can only take so much and all of that rehab was going to take a significant toll mentally. For him to last this long is honestly a miracle.
His retirement should serve as a warning to all teams that draft a Quarterback; protect them at all costs or watch their talent fade. Luck was supposed to be the future of the league. In six seasons he left the impression that he would be a future Hall of Famer. Not only were his numbers fantastic, but his presence alone was enough to make the Colts playoff contenders.
When you have a generational talent, the team should do everything in their power to cater to them. Keeping them healthy will allow the franchise to thrive. Believing that their talent alone will be enough is naive and could potentially result in burnout. Football is a brutal sport and injuries will eventually take their toll, but for the quarterback position, there needs to be an emphasis on their health.
As the NFL enters its 100th season, Andrew Luck’s retirement casts a large shadow. He was a player that should’ve been the bridge between generations. Instead, he’s a cautionary tale about personnel mismanagement. Luck should be praised for his decision, not vilified as he did the right thing for himself and his family.
The NFL tends to look the other way when taking care of their alumni, which is why the league is constantly mired in different controversies. From a quarterback standpoint, Andrew Luck will leave a considerable void that wont be filled until another generational talent comes along. Hopefully by that time, the league will understand the value of the offensive line and won’t let that talent go to waste.