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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
New York Jets Sep 17 12:40am ET

The New York Jets Defense had three sacks, one interception and gave up 23 points in a lopsided loss to the Browns on Monday night. Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams talked a big game in the week leading up to this matchup, but they couldn't back it up and got torched for 161 yards by Odell Beckham Jr., including an 89-yard touchdown where he was barely touched. The defense should be healthier next week with rookie Quinnen Williams and linebacker C.J. Mosley back in the mix, but they might be the worst defense to start in fantasy for Week 3, as they'll travel to New England to face the Patriots.

From RotoBaller

Ty Montgomery Sep 17 12:30am ET

New York Jets running back Ty Montgomery had three carries for 25 yards and three catches for 15 yards in a loss to Cleveland Monday. Montgomery was a hot waiver wire add earlier in the week with Le'Veon Bell questionable with a shoulder injury but Bell was fine and handled the lion's share of the backfield work out-touching Montgomery 31-6. Head coach Adam Gase has made it clear through two weeks Bell is the centerpiece of this offense and Montgomery won't have much fantasy value unless Bell misses time.

From RotoBaller

Jarvis Landry Sep 17 12:30am ET

Cleveland Browns wide receiver Jarvis Landry was quiet in a 23-3 win over the New York Jets on Monday Night Football in Week 2. Landry caught three of his seven targets for 32 yards in the win. The veteran slot receiver's biggest contribution on the evening was a 25-yard gain on third-and-20 at the end of the second quarter. Of course, Odell Beckham Jr was tending to an injury on the sidelines when Landry made that catch. Beckham's presence in town is a concern for Landry, who has just seven catches for 99 yards through two games. In Freddie Kitchens' offense, Landry is not getting fed targets the way he has in the past. He is dropping into the WR4 range in fantasy and will be tough to trust in Week 3 against the Los Angeles Rams.

From RotoBaller

Baker Mayfield Sep 17 12:20am ET

Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield completed 19-of-35 passes for 325 yards, one touchdown, and one interception in a 23-3 win over the New York Jets in Week 2. While the second-year quarterback's final numbers look good, the Cleveland offense looked disjointed and had issues moving the ball at times against an overmatched Jets team. Mayfield's final stat line was bailed out by an 89-yard touchdown reception by Odell Beckham Jr in the third quarter in which the receiver did most of the heavy lifting after a short catch. Mayfield now has 610 passing yards, two touchdowns, and four interceptions through his first two games. He will look for his first multi-touchdown game in Week 3 against the Los Angeles Rams.

From RotoBaller

Nick Chubb Sep 17 12:20am ET

Cleveland Browns running back Nick Chubb carried the ball 18 times for 62 yards and a touchdown in a 23-3 win over the New York Jets in Week 2. Chubb also added four receptions for 36 yards in the winning effort. The second-year running back scored Cleveland's first touchdown of the evening in the second quarter when he broke several tackles in a bruising 19-yard run. Chubb often left the field for D'Ernest Johnson on third downs but he wound up handling 18 of Cleveland's 21 rush attempts. Chubb is locked in as a high-volume runner in the Cleveland offense and will be an RB1 again in Week 3 when the Browns face the Los Angeles Rams.

From RotoBaller

Sam Ficken Sep 17 12:20am ET

New York Jets kicker Sam Ficken made a 46-yard field goal on his only attempt of the night in a 23-3 loss to the Browns Monday. The home crowd didn't have much to cheer for but erupted when Ficken's kick sailed through the uprights after the Jets kicking disaster last week against the Bills. Ficken was signed after a tryout on Tuesday and didn't do anything tonight to lose the job, but won't have much fantasy value kicking for a Jets team that has scored only 19 points through two games and struggled mightily with backup quarterbacks Trevor Siemian and Luke Falk playing tonight.

From RotoBaller

Odell Beckham Jr. Sep 17 12:10am ET

Cleveland Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr caught 6-of-10 targets for 161 yards and a touchdown in a 23-3 win over the New York Jets on Monday night. Beckham made the play of the game when he took a short pass over the middle in the third quarter and outran the New York defense for an 89-yard touchdown, the longest of his career. Beckham did survive an injury scare as he had to leave the game briefly at the end of the first half after he came down hard in the end zone following a catch attempt. He returned for the second half without any issues. Beckham now has 13 catches for 232 yards and a touchdown through two games. He will look to find the end zone again in Week 3 against the Los Angeles Rams.

From RotoBaller

Jamison Crowder Sep 17 12:10am ET

New York Jets wide receiver Jamison Crowder caught four passes for 40 yards on six targets in a 23-3 loss to the Browns Monday night. A week after tying the Jets record for catches in a game Crowder was seldom used tonight with the Jets playing backup quarterbacks and RB Le'Veon Bell getting most of the short targets Crowder thrived on in Week 1. Crowder's fantasy value will depend on who plays QB for the Jets moving forward as he simply didn't have the same connection this week as he did with a healthy Sam Darnold last week. Crowder will be in the WR3/flex mix most weeks but faces a daunting matchup next week against a Patriots Defense that has allowed only three points through two games.

From RotoBaller

Ryan Griffin Sep 17 12:10am ET

New York Jets tight end Ryan Griffin got one target that he didn't catch in a 23-3 loss against the Browns Monday night. Griffin now has only five targets through two games and is not a viable fantasy option in any format, especially given the Jets are likely to be starting a third-string quarterback next week. The Jets tight end situation can be safely ignored in fantasy until regular starter Chris Herndon returns from suspension in Week 6.

From RotoBaller

Luke Falk Sep 17 12:00am ET

New York Jets quarterback Luke Falk completed 20 passes in 25 attempts for 198 yards coming off the bench Monday night. Falk had no touchdowns and no interceptions in emergency duty after Trevor Siemian (ankle) left with an injury in the first half. Given the situation, Falk played a decent game but is not someone fantasy owners need to pay attention to, especially with a trip to New England lined up for next week. However, Falk did pepper Le'Veon Bell with 10 targets and made several good throws to Robby Anderson in garbage time so the Jets other fantasy assets could still be usable if Falk has to make a start next week.

From RotoBaller

Robby Anderson Sep 16 11:50pm ET

New York Jets wide receiver Robby Anderson caught four passes for 81 yards on six targets Monday night against the Browns. Overall it was a good game for Anderson given the Jets started the game with backup QB Trevor Siemian and finished it with third-stringer Luke Falk running the offense. Anderson has always been a boom-or-bust big-play receiver and is likely to bust more often than not given the Jets current QB nightmare. He will be in the WR3 mix after the Jets Week 4 bye, when Sam Darnold should be back under center, but fantasy owners should leave Anderson on the bench next week in a brutal matchup at New England.

From RotoBaller

Le'Veon Bell Sep 16 11:40pm ET

New York Jets running back Le'Veon Bell carried the ball 21 times for 68 yards and had 10 receptions for 61 yards in a 23-3 loss to the Browns Monday night. The Jets offense could do nothing with Trevor Siemian and Luke Falk playing quarterback, but Bell was still able to put up a decent game thanks to 31 touches, eight more than he had in Week 1 when he played every snap. Given the injuries to the Jets quarterbacks, scoring opportunities will be few and far between for Bell but he has a safe floor in fantasy with all the targets he'll get and almost no competition for touches in the backfield. Bell will be in the RB2 mix in a difficult matchup next week at New England.

From RotoBaller

Demaryius Thomas Sep 16 11:00pm ET

New York Jets wide receiver Demaryius Thomas (ankle) suffered an ankle injury on Monday night against the Browns and is out for the rest of the game. Thomas had just one catch for minus-one yard on two targets. To be fair, Thomas was making his debut with the team and was taking passes from backup Trevor Siemian and third-stringer Luke Falk. He hadn't practiced at all with the Jets before being active on Monday, and he might miss more practice time this week on a short week ahead of Week 3. As the third wideout, at best, for Gang Green and with Sam Darnold (illness) likely out for at least another couple weeks, DT has very little fantasy appeal.

From RotoBaller

Giovani Bernard Sep 16 10:50pm ET

Cincinnati Bengals running back Joe Mixon was active and started on Sunday, leaving Giovani Bernard to backup duties. Bernard played just 40% of the snaps on Sunday as Mixon played through his ankle injury without any setbacks. Bernard carried the ball six times for six yards and hauled in just one of his three targets for seven more yards. The long-time Bengals running back remains a must-own player if you have Mixon on your roster, but he can't be trusted in standard-sized leagues, especially non-PPR ones.

From RotoBaller

Odell Beckham Jr. Sep 16 10:33pm ET

Updating a previous report, Cleveland Browns WR Odell Beckham Jr. (undisclosed) returned for the second half of the Week 2 game against the New York Jets. He jogged off with an apparent lower leg injury near the end of the second quarter.

From TheHuddle

Minkah Fitzpatrick Sep 16 10:30pm ET

The Pittsburgh Steelers are acquiring defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick from the Miami Dolphins in exchange for a 2020 first-round pick, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. Fitzpatrick requested a trade late last week and it was reported that the Dolphins wanted a first round pick for the 11th overall selection in the 2018 draft. As a rookie, he totaled 80 tackles, two interceptions, and nine passes defended. The 22-year-old can play safety and slot corner, but the Steelers Defense could use help at both spots so it will be interesting to see how they utilize him. Pittsburgh has a Week 3 matchup with San Francisco, but it's not advisable to stream them in a road matchup.

From RotoBaller

Demaryius Thomas Sep 16 10:23pm ET

New York Jets WR Demaryius Thomas (hamstring) aggravated his hamstring injury in Week 2 against the Cleveland Browns and he will not return.

Fantasy Spin: Thomas is clearly not 100 percent, was rushed into action and he is now hurt. Avoid him in all fantasy leagues until he can return to health, get familiar with the playbook and show a little consistency.

From TheHuddle

Odell Beckham Jr. Sep 16 9:53pm ET

Cleveland Browns WR Odell Beckham Jr. (lower leg) suffered an apparent lower leg injury late in the second quarter after landing awkwardly in the end zone in Week 2 against the New York Jets. He attempted to get up, couldn't walk, and went back down to his backside. He then jogged off to meet with the training staff before trotting to the locker room right before halftime.

Fantasy Spin: Beckham looked to be in obvious discomfort initially, but he ran rather briskly into the locker room on third and long, suggesting he might be OK to begin the second half. We'll keep an eye on it.

From TheHuddle

David Njoku Sep 16 9:33pm ET

Updating a previous report, Cleveland Browns TE David Njoku (concussion) suffered a concussion in the first quarter of the Week 2 game against the New York Jets and he will not return.

Fantasy Spin: Njoku was upended on a pass play and landed awkwardly after having his legs taken out, hitting his head on the field turf surface. Demetrius Harris, Ricky Seal-Jones and Pharaoh Brown are the next men up at the position, with Harris likely to see the most targets.

From TheHuddle

Trevor Siemian Sep 16 9:30pm ET

New York Jets quarterback Trevor Siemian (ankle) suffered what looked to be a serious ankle injury in the second quarter on Monday night against the Browns. Siemian was hit hard and got his ankle caught underneath him while being taken to the turf. Somehow he was able to walk off the field under his own power and is being taken to the locker room. We'd be surprised if he were able to come back into this game. Third-stringer Luke Falk is now in the game. The Jets haven't been able to get any offense going and are leaning heavily on running back Le'Veon Bell. Siemian was an embarrassing 3-for-6 for three yards before he departed.

From RotoBaller