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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 England Patriots Sep 18 12:20am ET

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Antonio Brown Sep 18 12:10am ET

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Josh Gordon Sep 17 11:20pm ET

New England Patriots wide receiver Josh Gordon will try and rebound after catching only two passes for 19 yards in Week 2. Gordon has plenty of talent but the acquisition of Antonio Brown certainly is cutting into his chances. He will go up against a Jets Defense that was gashed by Odell Beckham Jr. and the Browns last Monday. The Patriots offense is so explosive that keeping everyone happy will be tough. Gordon may be the one to suffer for now and will be no higher than a WR3/4 heading into Week 3.

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Minnesota Vikings Sep 17 11:20pm ET

The Minnesota Vikings Defense got off to a rough start, allowing Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers to jump out to a quick 21-0 lead in the first quarter. They righted the ship after that, though, holding the Packers scoreless for the rest of the contest. They also notched two sacks, recovered two fumbles, and allowed just 191 passing yards in what was an impressive bounce-back effort. Though this wasn't a productive day from a fantasy standpoint, it wasn't exactly expected to be - on the road against the Packers is not the greatest spot to be in. Slot the Vikings defense in as a top-10 play at home against the bottom-tier Oakland Raiders offense.

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Rex Burkhead Sep 17 11:10pm ET

New England Patriots running back Rex Burkhead has been a fantastic role player for an explosive offense through the first two games of the season. Burkhead has carried the ball 13 times for 5.0 yards per carry and has added seven catches for 88 yards. He clearly is the backup behind teammate Sony Michel but has outplayed veteran James White in the first month of the season. Burkhead is not worth a start in most fantasy formats but has produced when called upon in the Patriots offense. Barring injury, however, Burkhead carries little fantasy value heading into Week 3.

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Adam Thielen Sep 17 11:10pm ET

Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen had a decent fantasy outing in Week 2, catching five of eight targets for 75 yards in Sunday's 21-16 loss to the Green Bay Packers. Though quarterbackKirk Cousins attempted 32 passes, he only completed 14 of them and had an awful day finding his receivers downfield. The inconsistency from Cousins is impacting Thielen's production, but the team's willingness to completely abandon the pass is of even more concern. Head coach Mike Zimmer will undoubtedly look to again feature the run in Week 3's contest against the Oakland Raiders, though Thielen still has to be started as a low-end WR1/high-end WR2 thanks to the juicy matchup.

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Julian Edelman Sep 17 11:10pm ET

New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman will face a Jets Defense in Week 3 that has allowed the 12th most fantasy points to receivers through two games. Edelman has been a rock for a dynamic Patriots offense, picking up first down after first down. The veteran is still looking for his first touchdown of the season but heads into Week 3's action with 10 catches for 134 yards. The Jets come into the contest undermanned on both sides of the football and the Patriots are expected to dominate. Edelman carries WR3 value, perhaps even higher in PPR leagues, heading into this Sunday.

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Sony Michel Sep 17 11:00pm ET

New England Patriots running back Sony Michel will try and build off of his 85-yard, one-touchdown performance last week when the team takes on the Jets this Sunday. After a disappointing game to start the season, the second-year running back bounced back nicely. Michel ran hard as the Patriots racked up a sizeable lead. The Patriots backfield consists of Rex Burkhead, James White and Damien Harris but Michel led the way last week with 21 carries. The Jets are down to their third-string quarterback and the Patriots could lean heavily on the running game in Week 3. Michel has RB2 value with a high ceiling this week.

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James White Sep 17 11:00pm ET

New England Patriots running back James White is off to a slow start through the first two games of the season. With so many weapons on offense, there are a lot of mouths to feed for quarterback Tom Brady. White has seen only seven carries through the first two weeks and has eight catches for 75 yards. The veteran will face a Jets Defense that has allowed 12 receptions to running backs but the Patriots game plan could lean towards relying on the running game. White is better suited in the passing game and his production could continue to suffer.

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Eddy Pineiro Sep 17 10:40pm ET

Chicago Bears kicker Eddy Pineiro played the hero in Week 2 and will now travel to Washington take on the Redskins in Week 3. Pineiro hit all three of his field goals last week, including a dramatic 53-yard boot to win the game with a second left. Pineiro is a perfect 4-for-4 on the season but is still largely unproven. He'll carry some value with a Bears offense that has scored only one touchdown through the first two games, but he doesn't come with much upside.

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Tom Brady Sep 17 10:30pm ET

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Adam Vinatieri Sep 17 10:20pm ET

The Indianapolis Colts worked out free-agent kickers Elliott Fry, Cody Parkey, Younghoe Koo, Greg Joseph, Cole Hedlund and Chase McLaughlin on Tuesday in the wake of Adam Vinatieri's struggles through two weeks. The 46-year-old veteran has made just one of his three field-goal attempts and two of his five extra points in 2019, and there were reports speculating that he might retire after Week 2. The Colts may have talked him out of it at least for another week, but he'll need to pick it up unless the team might go in another direction. Fantasy owners should stay away for now.

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Pittsburgh Steelers Sep 17 10:20pm ET

Pittsburgh Steelers safety Minkah Fitzpatrick will play the free safety spot with his new team to help replace Sean Davis (shoulder), who was placed on Injured Reserve on Tuesday. The Steelers traded a first-round pick to Miami for Fitzpatrick on Monday night, and he'll make his debut in Week 3 on the road against the 49ers. The 2018 first-rounder was being used all over the place in Miami, so he should be more comfortable at safety with his new club. Pittsburgh hasn't been able to stop much of anything on defense through two weeks, so hopefully Fitzpatrick's addition can help shore up their secondary. The Steelers Defense/special teams should be avoided against San Francisco this weekend.

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Adam Humphries Sep 17 10:10pm ET

Tennessee Titans wide receiver Adam Humphries said his chemistry with quarterback Marcus Mariota is a work in progress. Humphries is working on being a better option for Mariota, especially on third down. The first-year Titan has just three catches for four yards after two weeks and is sixth on the team in targets with four, tied with Tajae Sharpe. There's obviously room to improve from here on out, but Humphries shouldn't be owned anywhere except the deepest of leagues. Tennessee just doesn't throw the ball nearly enough to support more than one or two pass-catchers in fantasy.

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Chicago Bears Sep 17 10:10pm ET

The Chicago Bears Defense will travel to Washington to take on the Redskins in Week 3 for Monday night football. The elite unit played well last week against Denver but tired down the stretch in the high altitude. They did, however, pick up their first turnover of the season and the unit appears to be among the fastest in the league. They will face a Redskins offense that has allowed only two sacks all season but have not played against anyone the likes of Khalil Mack. Expect a low scoring affair on MNF, making the Bears defense a top choice in fantasy for Week 3.

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DeAndre Hopkins Sep 17 10:10pm ET

The Los Angeles Chargers signed free-agent tight end Lance Kendricks on Tuesday and placed safety Adrian Phillips (arm) on Injured Reserve in a corresponding move. Kendricks has caught 241 passes for 2,505 yards and 19 touchdowns in 125 career games. He caught 19 passes for 170 yards and a touchdown last year with Green Bay, but he's merely tight end depth until Hunter Henry (knee) can return. Los Angeles is unlikely to utilize the position much with Henry out. Phillips' injury, coupled with Derwin James being out, leaves the Bolts secondary pretty vulnerable. Texans receivers DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller could go off this Sunday.

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Keith Kirkwood Sep 17 10:10pm ET

The New Orleans Saints placed wide receiver Keith Kirkwood (hamstring) on Injured Reserve on Tuesday after he injured his hamstring in pregame warmups on Sunday. He caught 13 passes for 209 yards and two touchdowns in eight games (one start) in 2018. Kirkwood was buried on the team's receiver depth chart and didn't put up any numbers in Week 1. Rookie Deonte Harris and Austin Carr will battle for the No. 4 job behind Michael Thomas, Ted Ginn and Tre'Quan Smith.

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Baker Mayfield Sep 17 10:00pm ET

Cleveland Browns head coach Freddie Kitchens said that he needs to put quarterback Baker Mayfield in better position to succeed and get the ball out of his hand quicker because he's taking too many hits after two weeks. It hasn't helped that Cleveland's offensive line isn't giving Mayfield much time to throw, but Mayfield also needs to do a better job of reading the defense's coverage schemes. The Browns could have their hands full next Monday night against the Rams defensive front, making Mayfield more of a low-end QB1/high-end QB2 for that matchup. A shift to more of a short passing game could benefit Jarvis Landry as well.

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Taylor Gabriel Sep 17 10:00pm ET

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Anthony Miller Sep 17 10:00pm ET

Chicago Bears wide receiver Anthony Miller will try and get his season going when the team takes on the Redskins in Week 3 for Monday Night Football. The second-year receiver was expected to take a leap this season but has only one reception for two yards to show for it. Miller also appears to be on a limited snap-count, whether for health or the coaching staff is opting to trust other players. Miller was drafted in a handful of leagues but has been completely non-existent. The talented receiver will, however, face a Redskins Defense that has already allowed five touchdown catches to opposing receivers through the first two games.

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