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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
Cam Newton Sep 22 10:40am ET

Despite his foot injury being bad enough to keep him out of Week 3's meeting with Arizona, Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton is expected to return to practice as soon as Wednesday, with NFL Network's Ian Rapoport saying that Newton's injury is a "day to day" issue. That means Newton could be back on the field in Week 4 when the Panthers visit the Texans, so the downgrade that this offense gets by playing Kyle Allen at quarterback may be a very short-lived issue.

From RotoBaller

Alshon Jeffery Sep 22 10:30am ET

Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Alshon Jeffery (calf) is unlikely to play against the Detroit Lions in Week 3, per ESPN's Adam Schefter. Jeffery's status has been up in the air all week, but it looks like the Eagles will be without him and fellow wide receiver DeSean Jackson (abdomen). Nelson Agholor and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside should see most of the wide receiver snaps, with tight end Zach Ertz taking on a bigger workload. Overall, the Eagles offense has a lower ceiling this week, which could hurt quarterback Carson Wentz the most of all.

From RotoBaller

James White Sep 22 10:05am ET

Patriots running back James White has been ruled out for the Week 3 game against the Jets because his wife is expected to give birth, according to multiple sources.

Mike Hughes Sep 22 9:53am ET

Updating a previous report, Minnesota Vikings CB Mike Hughes (knee) will play in Week 3's game against the Oakland Raiders, according to a source.

From TheHuddle

Antonio Brown Sep 22 9:50am ET

Free agent wide receiver Antonio Brown tweeted on Sunday that he's done playing in the NFL, citing the league's contract structure and the fact that teams can void guarantees. Brown's future in the league was already in question after being released by the Raiders and Patriots already this season while facing multiple claims of sexual misconduct, among other issues. While Brown's talent is obvious, his off-field issues have derailed his career and hurt numerous people in the process, and it would be a shock to see him on an NFL field again in 2019, if ever.

From RotoBaller

James White Sep 22 9:43am ET

New England Patriots RB James White has been ruled out for Week 3's game against the New York Jets because his wife is expected to give birth, according to multiple sources.

Fantasy Spin: Sony Michel is expected to receive the bulk of the carries in the New England backfield this week, with Rex Burkhead and possibly Damien Harris seeing additional offensive snaps due to White's absence. Only Michel is worthy of consideration as a starting option in fantasy leagues.

From TheHuddle

Teddy Bridgewater Sep 22 9:40am ET

New Orleans Saints quarterback Teddy Bridgewater will start Sunday's Week 3 contest against the Seattle Seahawks, though the team intends to use Taysom Hill at times during the game. Heading into the weekend, head coach Sean Payton hadn't committed to a starter, though it was looking more and more like it'd be Bridgewater. This isn't an easy matchup and Bridgewater didn't set the world on fire when he came in as an injury replacement for Drew Brees last week, so it's fair to think of him as just a mid-tier QB2 despite the weapons around him.

From RotoBaller

Alshon Jeffery Sep 22 9:33am ET

Philadelphia Eagles WR Alshon Jeffery (calf) is not expected to play in Week 3's game against the Detroit Lions, according to a source.

Fantasy Spin: Jeffery had been listed as questionable on the injury report after being unable to practice at all during the week. The Eagles' Week 4 game is on Thursday Night Football, so the team may decide to hold him out of action versus Detroit in order to give him a few more days to recover.

From TheHuddle

Dallas Goedert Sep 22 9:23am ET

Philadelphia Eagles TE Dallas Goedert (calf) reportedly looked better at practice Saturday, Sept. 21, and is currently considered a pregame decision for Week 3's contest against the Detroit Lions.

Fantasy Spin: Goeder had been listed as questionable on the injury report after participating in one practice session during the week on a limited basis. Fantasy owners should be able to find better options even if he is active for the game.

From TheHuddle

James White Sep 22 9:20am ET

New England Patriots running back James White (personal) won't play in Week 3 when the Patriots meet the Jets as he awaits the birth of his child. With White out, expect a healthy dose of Sony Michel on early downs and Rex Burkhead on passing downs. Michel in particular should see a ton of work in this game, as the Patriots project to go up big early and run the ball plenty in the second half. Burkhead gets a boost and looks like a high upside starting option in deeper leagues now.

From RotoBaller

Mark Andrews Sep 22 9:03am ET

Baltimore Ravens TE Mark Andrews (foot) will participate in pregame warmups prior to Week 3's game against the Kansas City Chiefs before the team will know if he'll be able to play, according to a source.

Fantasy Spin: Andrews was listed as questionable on the injury report after taking part in two practice sessions during the week on a limited basis. He has been one of the NFL's top-producing players at his position and should be started in fantasy leagues as long as he is active, especially since this afternoon's game versus the Chiefs could be a high-scoring affair.

From TheHuddle

Marlon Mack Sep 22 8:43am ET

Indianapolis Colts RB Marlon Mack (calf) is likely to play in Week 3's game against the Atlanta Falcons but the team wants to see how he fares in pre-game warmups before making a final decision on his status.

Fantasy Spin: Mack was listed as questionable on the injury report after participating in one of the team's three practices during the week on a limited basis. He will continue to receive a great deal of action in the Indianapolis backfield, making him worthy of consideration as an RB2 in many fantasy leagues.

From TheHuddle

T Y Hilton Sep 22 8:43am ET

Indianapolis Colts WR T.Y. Hilton (quadriceps) is likely to play in Week 3's game against the Atlanta Falcons but the team wants to see how he fares in pre-game warmups before making a final decision on his status.

Fantasy Spin: Despite the quarterback change this season, Hilton has continued to play well, with 12 receptions for 130 yards and three touchdowns through his first two games. View him as a low-end WR1 or high-end WR2 in most fantasy formats.

From TheHuddle

Rashaad Penny Sep 22 8:33am ET

Seattle Seahawks RB Rashaad Penny (hamstring) is not expected to play in Week 3's game against the New Orleans Saints, according to a source. He strained his hamstring during practice Friday, Sept. 20, and even though the injury is not believed to be serious, the team wants to err on the side of caution with his health.

Fantasy Spin: If Penny is sidelined, Chris Carson should see the bulk of the carries in the Seattle backfield this afternoon, with C.J. Prosise likely to see additional offensive snaps as well. Carson should be viewed as a viable RB2 option this week, while Prosise isn't worth starting in any fantasy format.

From TheHuddle

Denzel Ward Sep 22 8:33am ET

Cleveland Browns CB Denzel Ward (hamstring) is not expected to play in Week 3's game against the Los Angeles Rams, according to a source. He tweaked his hamstring during practice Tuesday, Sept. 17.

From TheHuddle

Teddy Bridgewater Sep 22 8:23am ET

Updating a previous report, New Orleans Saints QB Teddy Bridgewater is expected to get the starting nod for Week 3's game against the Seattle Seahawks, although QB Taysom Hill is likely to see some action during the game as well.

Fantasy Spin: Bridgewater is the better bet this week as far as streaming fantasy options go, while the bulk of Hill's action is likely to come in short-yardage and goal-line situations.

From TheHuddle

Robert Woods Sep 22 8:20am ET

Cleveland Browns lockdown cornerback Denzel Ward (hamstring) is not expected to play against the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday night. Ward suffered a hamstring strain during practice this week and he is looking unlikely to take the field. Meanwhile, the team is more optimistic about rookie corner Greedy Williams (hamstring). If Ward is unable to play, that would be a huge boost to the Los Angeles wide receivers, namely Robert Woods and Brandin Cooks. In just over a year, Ward has established himself as one of the better lockdown corners in the NFL. His absence would create a huge void in the Cleveland secondary on Sunday night. You were probably starting them in season-long leagues anyways but both Woods and Cooks become much more interesting for DFS slates that include the Sunday night game.

From RotoBaller

Rashaad Penny Sep 22 6:30am ET

Seattle Seahawks running back Rashaad Penny (hamstring) isn't expected to play against the Saints. Though the injury, which occurred during practice throughout the week, isn't considered severe, the team wants to be careful with its No. 2 back. In his stead, C.J. Prosise will back up Chris Carsonon Sunday, with the former having relatively no fantasy value, however.

From RotoBaller

T Y Hilton Sep 22 6:20am ET

Indianapolis Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton (quad) may play against the Falcons, with the final decision coming before opening kick. The veteran receiver managed to practice throughout the week, although in a limited capacity, but will still be considered a must-start in virtually all fantasy formats on Sunday.

From RotoBaller

Marlon Mack Sep 22 6:10am ET

Indianapolis Colts running back Marlon Mack (calf) is a game-time call against Atlanta. Mack returned to practice in a limited capacity on Friday after not participating the previous two days. Nonetheless, the team remains hopeful that the 23-year-old is in uniform on Sunday and would be considered a must-start despite going up against mediocre Falcons Defense. If he does sit, look for Jordan Wilkins and Nyheim Hines to pick up the slack.

From RotoBaller