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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
Mark Andrews Sep 19 9:40pm ET

Baltimore Ravens tight end Mark Andrews looks to build off his effective Week 1 performance on Sunday against the Texans. The 25-year-old had a spectacular start to the season against the Browns, finishing with five catches for 58 yards and two touchdowns. His ceiling for the remainder of the season is high, primarily since opposing defenses will be focused on slowing down Lamar Jackson. Fantasy managers in all formats should keep Andrews rolling in Week 2.

From RotoBaller

Mark Ingram Sep 19 9:30pm ET

Baltimore Ravens running back Mark Ingram II is a risky play heading into Sunday's meeting against Houston. The veteran had an unfavorable performance during the Week 1 slaughter over the Browns, rushing for just 29 yards on 10 attempts. While Ingram may have a few more solid performances throughout the 2020 campaign, the presence of rookie back J.K. Dobbins, who had seven carries and two touchdowns against Cleveland, will undoubtably lower his stock moving forward. For those with nowhere else to turn, the 30-year-old should still hold a spot as a starter as the upside is still barely there against the Texans, as long as fantasy managers are comfortable with the potential for another shoddy performance as well.

From RotoBaller

J.K. Dobbins Sep 19 9:30pm ET

Baltimore Ravens running back J.K. Dobbins has a favorable upside on Sunday against the Texans. Although Mark Ingram II will potentially continue to snag some carries, the rookie managed to find the end zone twice against the Browns despite only touching the ball seven times. Dobbins is still a risky option, but he also has a high ceiling in Week 2, especially inside the five-yard line. For those in deeper leagues looking to throw a dart, the former second-round pick has plenty of potential against Houston to produce another effective fantasy performance.

From RotoBaller

Jaire Alexander Sep 19 9:13pm ET

Green Bay Packers CB Jaire Alexander (hand) was added to the injury report, but he is expected to play against the Detroit Lions in Week 2.

From TheHuddle

Lamar Jackson Sep 19 9:10pm ET

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson was impressive during the season-opener against the Browns and will look to keep that momentum going into Week 2 against Houston. The Texans Defense didn't impress against Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs during the Thursday night matchup, allowing the former MVP to compile three touchdown tosses. Heading into Sunday, Jackson has all the tools needed to make some noise for fantasy owners. The third-year signal-caller threw for 222 yards and four touchdowns on nearly 71 percent passing against the Texans in Week 11 of 2019. He also added 10 carries for 79 yards. While Jackson's previous success against Houston doesn't mean another stellar outing is on tap, his ceiling is higher than usual on Sunday.

From RotoBaller

Henry Ruggs III Sep 19 8:00pm ET

Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Henry Ruggs III (knee) is listed as questionable for Monday night's game against the Saints. Ruggs III didn't practice on Wednesday or Thursday before getting in a limited session on Friday. The rookie is at least trending in the right direction and probably has a good shot to suit up, especially considering he was on the practice field Saturday. The matchup against the Saints isn't great, as they were stingy against the Buccaneers' wideouts in Week 1. Consider Ruggs III a risky WR3/4 if he plays.

From RotoBaller

Josh Adams Sep 19 7:50pm ET

New York Jets running back Josh Adams was promoted from the practice squad on Saturday ahead of the team's Week 2 matchup with the 49ers. With Le'Veon Bell (hamstring) on Injured Reserve, the Jets are bringing up Adams for some depth. Frank Gore will see most of the carries, with the leftovers going to fellow backs La'Mical Perine (ankle) and newly acquired Kalen Ballage. Adams did score a garbage time touchdown in Week 1, though his role is far too unpredictable to count on for any production. This backfield is one of the more unappealing ones in fantasy football at the moment.

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Tarik Cohen Sep 19 7:40pm ET

Chicago Bears running back Tarik Cohen is working on a contract extension with the team. The talks have progressed well and the two sides were pushing to get the deal done in advance of Week 2, though it may have to wait until after Chicago's game against the Giants on Sunday. The dynamic halfback has averaged 4.2 yards per carry on 257 career attempts and has exceeded 300 receiving yards in each of his three seasons in the league. The Bears are clearly viewing him as an important part of their future, which is music to the ears of fantasy managers. Stay tuned for details on any potential contract signing.

From RotoBaller

Ryan Tannehill Sep 19 7:30pm ET

Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill gets a favorable matchup against the Jaguars in Week 2. Tannehill looked good in his opening game of 2020, completing 29 of 43 passes for 249 yards and two touchdowns in a win over the Denver Broncos. Now he'll square off with a Jacksonville defense that surrendered 363 passing yards to Philip Rivers. Tannehill is certainly skilled enough to dissect the Jaguars' defense, though he may take a backseat to Derrick Henry in this one. The veteran could be a good streaming option this week, but his upside is capped because Tennessee may not need to rely on his arm to win this week.

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Anthony Zettel Sep 19 6:13pm ET

Free-agent DB Grant Haley (Giants) and DT Anthony Zettel (Vikings) were signed to the New Orleans Saints' practice squad Saturday, Sept. 19.

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Jordan Richards Sep 19 5:23pm ET

Baltimore Ravens DB Jordan Richards was elevated from the practice squad to the active roster Saturday, Sept. 19.

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Devante Bond Sep 19 5:23pm ET

Chicago Bears LB Devante Bond was promoted from the practice squad to the active roster Saturday, Sept. 19.

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Josh Malone Sep 19 4:53pm ET

New York Jets LB Alec Ogletree was signed to the active roster from the practice squad Saturday, Sept. 19. WR Josh Malone was also promoted to the active roster from the practice squad.

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Dee Ford Sep 19 4:53pm ET

San Francisco 49ers DL Dee Ford (neck) was ruled out Saturday, Sept. 19, and won't play Week 2 against the New York Jets.

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Jeremy McNichols Sep 19 4:53pm ET

Tennessee Titans RB Jeremy McNichols and WR Cameron Batson were promoted from the practice squad to the active roster Saturday, Sept. 19.

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Michael Thomas Sep 19 4:50pm ET

New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas (ankle) has been ruled out for Monday night's game against the Las Vegas Raiders. There was a "glimmer of hope" that Thomas would be able to suit up a week after suffering a high-ankle sprain, though that was probably false hope at best. This is ideal for fantasy managers because now they can pivot to options on their bench from Sunday's slate of games. Fellow wideout Emmanuel Sanders and tight end Jared Cook should see a larger share of targets while Tre'Quan Smith has some appeal as a sleeper against the Raiders' suspect secondary.

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Equanimeous St. Brown Sep 19 4:43pm ET

Green Bay Packers WR Equanimeous St. Brown (knee) was placed on the Reserve/Injured list Saturday, Sept. 19, due to a knee injury.

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C.J. Prosise Sep 19 4:43pm ET

Houston Texans RB C.J. Prosise was promoted to the active roster from the practice squad Saturday, Sept. 19.

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Marcus Davenport Sep 19 4:33pm ET

New Orleans Saints DE Marcus Davenport (elbow) and LB Chase Hansen (hip) didn't practice Saturday, Sept. 19, and have been ruled out for the Week 2 game against the Las Vegas Raiders Monday, Sept. 21. OL Cesar Ruiz (ankle) and S P.J. Williams (hamstring) both practiced in full and have been cleared for Week 2.

From TheHuddle