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Luck finds cost of football too pricey to continue career

Sun Aug 25 2:11pm ET
By MICHAEL MAROT
AP Sports Writer

Players: Tom Brady, Ryan Tannehill, Russell Wilson, Nick Foles, Kirk Cousins, Robert Griffin III, Andrew Luck, Marcus Mariota

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck shakes hands with Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay after a news conference following the team's NFL preseason football game against the Chicago Bears, Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019, in Indianapolis. The oft-injured star is retiring at age 29. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)


Indianapolis Colts general manager Chris Ballard, left, and owner Jim Irsay, second from left, listen as Colts quarterback Andrew Luck speaks during a news conference following the team's NFL preseason football game against the Chicago Bears, Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019, in Indianapolis. The oft-injured star is retiring at age 29. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)


Indianapolis Colts general manager Chris Ballard speaks during a news conference after the team's NFL preseason football game against the Chicago Bears, Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019, in Indianapolis. Colts quarterback Andrew Luck announced that he his retiring at age 29. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)


The injured ankle of Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck is seen as he speaks during a news conference following the team's NFL preseason football game against the Chicago Bears, Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019, in Indianapolis. The oft-injured star is retiring at age 29. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)


Indianapolis Colts coach Frank Reich speaks as team owner Jim Irsay listens following a news conference after the Colts' NFL preseason football game against the Chicago Bears, Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019, in Indianapolis. Colts quarterback Andrew Luck announced that he his retiring at age 29. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)


Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck speaks during a news conference following the team's NFL preseason football game against the Chicago Bears, Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019, in Indianapolis. The oft-injured star is retiring at age 29. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)


INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Andrew Luck was unique.

He loved football. He loves life even more.

So when the 29-year-old Luck thought another long, laborious comeback journey jeopardized his future plans, he believed walking away from the sport and potentially hundreds of millions of dollars was the only logical choice.

''For the last four years or so, I've been in this cycle of injury, pain, rehab - injury, pain, rehab - and it's been unceasing, unrelenting, both in season and off season,'' Luck said following Saturday night's loss to the Chicago Bears. ''I felt stuck in it, and the only way I see out is to no longer play football. It's taken my joy of this game away.''

The announcement and the timing - two weeks before the Indianapolis Colts' season opener against the Los Angeles Chargers - shocked the football world.

But this was not a spur of the moment decision.

After three injury-plagued seasons, Luck returned last year with a new perspective about the physical pain, mental fatigue and emotional agony it took to keep fighting his way back. Late last summer, he described his state of mind throughout the continual rehab with words such as `sad,' `miserable' and `scared.'

Last month, as the lingering pain in his lower left leg forced him off the practice field yet again, Luck told reporters he promised himself after playing through the shoulder pain in 2016 and missing the entire 2017 season, he would be honest with himself, his coaches, teammates and the organization about how his body felt.

At the time, Luck said he thought even limited practices were detrimental to himself and the team.

While some fans booed Luck as he left the field Saturday night, other players supported him. They understand how dangerous and debilitating the sport can be, which is why some are quitting at earlier ages.

Luck just happens to be the biggest name yet on that expanding list.

''I think it takes an immense amount of courage, an immense amount of self-reflection and a lot of guts to do what he is doing,'' Houston defensive end J.J. Watt said. ''I am sure people have their ways of looking at it and their ways of trying to say what they would do in his shoes. But the truth is, no one is in his shoes. Nobody has to go through what he has had to go through. Nobody has been through the rehab and the injuries. ... I respect the hell out of it. I think it takes a whole lot to walk away from a ton of money like that.''

Colts owner Jim Irsay estimates Luck could have made as much as $500 million if he lasted as long as Brett Favre, Tom Brady or Peyton Manning, Luck's predecessor.

But Luck was never in it for the money or the fame - like others who left the game on their terms and in their prime.

Barry Sanders retired at age 31 after winning four NFL rushing titles and within reach of breaking Walter Payton's career rushing record. At age 30, Calvin Johnson called it quits after his sixth straight Pro Bowl appearance. Jim Brown walked away at age 30 for a budding movie career, less than a year after winning his third and final MVP award.

They never came back, and Luck said he doesn't anticipate a return, either, though he's young enough to do it.

Many others, such as Hall of Famers Gale Sayers and Terrell Davis, were forced out by injuries or age.

Luck seems to be a combination of the two, largely the result of a porous offensive line that allowed the top overall draft pick in 2012 to take more hits than any quarterback in the league during his first five seasons.

He was good enough to lead the Colts to playoff appearances in each of his first three seasons, the 2014 AFC Championship game and orchestrate the second-largest comeback in playoff history. And when he returned healthy last season, he took the Colts back to the playoffs and was a runaway winner in the league's Comeback Player of the Year award balloting.

It just wasn't enough for Luck.

''We all expect we're going to play this game forever,'' Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson said. ''The reality is for most players, it's not very long. No matter how good we are, or whatever it may be, there's life after this game, too. I think that's a thing we always have to balance and always have to weigh.''

Luck is the sixth quarterback of the 11 selected in 2012 out of football.

Wilson and Nick Foles, both third-round picks that year, own Super Bowl rings. Kirk Cousins, a fourth-rounder, is the starter in Minnesota.

The other two still around - Robert Griffin III and Ryan Tannehill - had promising careers derailed by injuries, too. Griffin, the No. 2 pick who played high school football in Texas like Luck and beat Luck out for the 2011 Heisman Trophy award, is fighting for a roster spot in Baltimore. Tannehill, the No. 8 pick, is the backup to Marcus Mariota in Tennessee.

Luck didn't want to spend more countless hours in the training room now that he's married and will soon become a father.

He'd rather travel the world, watch soccer, put his architectural degree from Stanford to use and suggest good reads for the Andrew Luck Book Club. Perhaps he will come back to football one day. Or maybe he'll choose a new career.

''To step back away from this thing, I honor him. I think a lot of his family, I think a lot of his father, I think a lot of what he's brought to football and wish him nothing but the very best.'' Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said. ''I hope he becomes President of the United States.''

But after throwing 171 touchdown passes and for nearly 24,000 yards, Luck found football simply wasn't worth the cost.

''I'm exhausted - and quite tired,'' he said during an emotional farewell speech. ''The only way forward is to remove myself from this cycle.''

Player Notes
Chidobe Awuzie Sep 26 6:13pm ET

Dallas Cowboys DB Chidobe Awuzie (hamstring) was placed on the Reserve/Injured list Saturday, Sept. 26.

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C.J. Prosise Sep 26 5:53pm ET

Houston Texans RB C.J. Prosise was elevated from the practice squad to the active roster Saturday, Sept. 26.

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Edmond Robinson Sep 26 5:33pm ET

Atlanta Falcons LB Edmond Robinson was activated from the practice squad as a COVID-19 replacement Saturday, Sept. 26.

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Ty Montgomery Sep 26 5:13pm ET

New Orleans Saints RB Ty Montgomery (hamstring) was placed on the Reserve/Injured list Saturday, Sept. 26. WR Bennie Fowler and DL Margus Hunt were signed to the active roster from the practice squad. C/G Will Clapp was waived.

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Josh Allen Sep 26 5:00pm ET

Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen has been fantastic through the first two weeks of the regular season. In Week 2, Allen threw for 415 passing yards with four touchdowns in the victory over the Miami Dolphins. However, he'll face a tougher battle against the Los Angeles Rams this week. The tough Rams secondary held quarterback Carson Wentz to zero touchdowns. Allen has looked good this season, so we'll give him the benefit of the doubt. He should be treated as a low-end QB1 for this matchup.

From RotoBaller

Devin Singletary Sep 26 5:00pm ET

Buffalo Bills running back Devin Singletary has been fairly average through the first two games of the regular season. He rushed 10 times for 56 yards in the victory over the Miami Dolphins in Week 2. He continues to split up the carries with rookie Zack Moss, which hurts his value. However, he'll get a favorable matchup against the Los Angeles Rams this week. The same Rams Defense that allowed Miles Sanders to nearly rush for 100 yards last game. Although, Singletary is likely only going to see around 10 carries, so he should be treated as a high-end RB3.

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Stefon Diggs Sep 26 5:00pm ET

Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stefon Diggs gets a tough test in Week 3 against the Rams. Diggs will be going up against star cornerback Jalen Ramsey, who has traditionally limited most top receivers in his career. Diggs ranks in the top-five in targets and is tied for first in the league with 239 receiving yards, so he's certainly talented enough to win this matchup. However, the Rams have been a classic funnel defense in the first two games of the season, so expect Buffalo to have more success with the run than the pass. It's possible Diggs connects on a long shot with Josh Allen, though it's best to view him as more of a WR2 than the WR1 he's been through the first two weeks.

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Steven Hauschka Sep 26 4:53pm ET

Free-agent PKs Stephen Hauschka (Bills) and Aldrick Rosas (Giants) are among those expected to try out for the Jacksonville Jaguars.

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Kyle Emanuel Sep 26 4:43pm ET

Las Vegas Raiders LB Kyle Emanuel and CB Madre Harper were activated from the practice squad Saturday, Sept. 26.

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Tevin Coleman Sep 26 4:43pm ET

San Francisco 49ers RB Tevin Coleman (knee) was placed on the Reserve/Injured list Saturday, Sept. 26. OL Hroniss Grasu was promoted from the practice squad to the active roster. RB JaMycal Hasty and LB Joseph Walker were activated from the practice squad.

From TheHuddle

Devin Singletary Sep 26 4:40pm ET

Buffalo Bills running back Devin Singletary will operate as the team's lead back in Week 3 with rookie Zack Moss (toe) declared out for the contest against the Rams. That should open up at least 15 touches for Singletary against a Rams Defense that ranks 27th in rush DVOA. It's a great opportunity for the second-year pro and it vaults him from flex-status up to the RB2 conversation. Singletary is a must-start at this point in redraft leagues and should also be considered a good option in DFS formats.

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Johnny Holton Sep 26 4:33pm ET

New York Giants WR Johnny Holton was activated from the practice squad Saturday, Sept. 26.

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Kenjon Barner Sep 26 4:33pm ET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Kenjon Barner was promoted from the practice squad to the active roster Saturday, Sept. 26.

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Melvin Ingram Sep 26 4:30pm ET

Los Angeles Chargers edge rusher Melvin Ingram (knee) was placed on the injured reserve on Saturday. The team will be without the services of Ingram- who has recorded at least seven sacks in each of the last five seasons- for the next three contests. It's certainly a downgrade for the Chargers' defensive unit as a whole, considering Ingram is one of their best pass-rushers. They could still be started in Week 3 against Carolina, though matchups against the Buccaneers and Saints, already shaky with Ingram, become matchups to avoid without him.

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Frank Clark Sep 26 4:23pm ET

Kansas City Chiefs DE Alex Okafor didn't participate in practice Saturday, Sept. 26, and was ruled out for the Week 3 game against the Baltimore Ravens Monday, Sept. 28. CB Charvarius Ward (hand) was limited at practice and is questionable. FB Dorian O'Daniel (knee/ankle) and WR Sammy Watkins (concussion/neck) practiced in full but are questionable for Monday. RB Darrel Williams (ankle), DE Frank Clark (illness), CB Antonio Hamilton (groin), DT Derrick Nnadi (ankle), C Austin Reiter (knee) and S Juan Thornhill (knee) all practiced in full.

From TheHuddle

Melvin Ingram Sep 26 4:13pm ET

Los Angeles Chargers G Ryan Groy, LB Malik Jefferson and DE Jessie Lemonier were promoted from the practice squad to the active roster Saturday, Sept. 26. In corresponding moves, LB Asmar Bilal (calf), DE Melvin Ingram III (knee) and DT Justin Jones (shoulder) were placed on the Reserve/Injured list. S Jahleel Addae and RB Darius Bradwell were activated from the practice squad.

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Sep 26 4:03pm ET

Baltimore Ravens CB Tavon Young (knee) did not participate in practice Saturday, Sept. 26, and was ruled out for the team's Week 3 game Monday against the Kansas City Chiefs. Ravens OG D.J. Fluker (shoulder), LB/DB Anthony Levine (abdomen), DT Justin Madubuike (knee) and WR Chris Moore (finger) were limited practice participants Saturday and are listed as questionable for Monday.

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George Iloka Sep 26 4:03pm ET

Minnesota Vikings CB Mark Fields and S George Iloka on Saturday, Sept. 26, were elevated to the active roster from the practice squad for Week 3.

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Josh Jacobs Sep 26 4:00pm ET

Las Vegas Raiders running back Josh Jacobs (hip) is listed as questionable for Week 3 against the Patriots. Tight end Darren Waller (knee) is also questionable. Both players were able to get limited practice sessions in on Friday after not being available earlier in the week and should be able to suit up Sunday. At first glance, it seems like a tough matchup for Jacobs, though New England ranks just 20th in rush DVOA. It's always a nerve-wracking experience starting a player against a Bill Belichick-defense, though Jacobs is currently seeing a ton of volume in this offense. If he's playing, you're starting him.

From RotoBaller

Alex Okafor Sep 26 3:53pm ET

Kansas City Chiefs DE Alex Okafor (hamstring) on Saturday, Sept. 26, was ruled out for the team's Week 3 game Monday against the Baltimore Ravens.

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