Sun Aug 25 2:11pm ET
By MICHAEL MAROT
AP Sports Writer
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.''
Five Cold Plays: Week 2
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.
The Pittsburgh Steelers Defense was excellent in their season-opening road win over the New York Giants in Week 1. They will travel back home to take on the Denver Broncos in a plus matchup in Week 2. Denver's offense was generous to fantasy defenses last season and might be without top wide receiver Courtland Sutton (shoulder) this weekend. Even if Sutton does play, he is expected to be limited by a shoulder injury. Pittsburgh is installed as seven-point home favorites, indicating what should be a favorable game script for their defense against Drew Lock and the Denver offense. Fantasy gamers will want to fire up the Pittsburgh defense in all formats for Week 2.
Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Eric Ebron had a disappointing debut with his new team, catching just one of two targets for 18 yards in a Week 1 win over the New York Giants. Ebron will hope for a larger role in the offense when he takes on the Denver Broncos at home in Week 2. While Denver allowed Jonnu Smith to find the end zone in Week 1, Ebron is best left on fantasy benches until he proves that he is going to be a trustworthy part of the passing attack. Treat him as a mid-range TE2 in Week 2.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Chris Godwin (head) has been ruled out for Sunday's Week 2 matchup against the Carolina Panthers. Godwin was trending in the wrong direction after entering the concussion protocol late in the week on Wednesday, so this news doesn't come as too much of a surprise. Fellow wideout Mike Evans is in a smash spot and needs to be started in all formats while Scotty Miller should also see more targets. The tight ends Rob Gronkowski and O.J. Howard could see more usage, though Evans and Miller are the main beneficiaries here.
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Diontae Johnson is coming off a Week 1 win which saw him lead his team with 10 targets. The second-year wideout will look to build upon that performance in Week 2 against the Denver Broncos. Johnson has been dealing with a toe injury for the past couple of weeks but he was able to practice fully on Friday ahead of his Week 2 tilt. The Broncos coughed up a 100-yard receiving game to Corey Davis in Week 1 and placed top cornerback A.J. Bouye on injured reserve earlier in the week. Fantasy gamers can trust Johnson as a rock-solid WR3 in Week 2.
Pittsburgh Steelers running back Benny Snell Jr. burst on the scene with 19 carries for 113 yards in a Week 1 win over the New York Giants. Snell saw extra work after starter James Conner went down with an ankle injury. He was a popular waiver add earlier in the week while Conner's status for Week 2's matchup against the Denver Broncos was still unknown. Conner returned to full practice on Friday and is without an injury designation for this weekend, casting some uncertainty on the Pittsburgh running back situation. Fantasy gamers who were planning on starting Snell should consider the possibility that Conner takes the majority of the running back touches in Week 2, leaving Snell as a shaky flex at best.
Tennessee Titans star running back Derrick Henry will face a Jaguars Defense against which he accumulated 203 rushing yards and three rushing scores in two matchups last season. That Jaguars have allowed an average of 31.4 fantasy points per game to opposing running backs over the past eight games. This forecast seems to bode quite well for Henry who should once again see a large volume of carries. He's undoubtedly a high-end RB1 in all formats heading into week two.
Tennessee Titans tight end Jonnu Smith gets a plus matchup this week against a Jaguars Defense that allowed 363 yards through the air in week one. A.J. Brown (knee) is set to miss multiple weeks so the Titans will look upon Smith and Corey Davis more frequently. Smith hauled in four of seven targets for 36 yards and a touchdown during week one's 16-14 win against Denver. He's likely to see an uptick in targets and should be viewed as a high-end TE2 in week two against Jacksonville.
Tennessee Titans wide receiver Corey Davis (hamstring) who was listed as limited on Thursday, practiced full on Friday. He looks ready to go Sunday and should be in line for more targets with fellow receiver A.J. Brown (knee) ruled out. Davis will look to build upon the momentum from week one in which he hauled in seven of eight targets for 101 yards. The receiver is entering his fourth NFL season having yet to emerge as a go-to target after being drafted with the fifth overall pick of the 2017 draft. He should produce numbers worthy of a flex start in all league formats against the Jaguars Defense who gave up 363 yards through the air in week one. He could see double digit targets from Ryan Tannehill.
New York Giants wide receiver Sterling Sheppard was a big part of the Giants offense in Week 1 and will look to carry that momentum into a road game vs the Bears. Shepard caught all six of his targets for 47 yards as he was the primary short-area target for Daniel Jones. If Golden Tate (hamstring) suits up that could cut into Shepard's target share, but he is still a solid WR3/flex play for fantasy managers, especially in PPR. Shepard would get a big boost in his fantasy appeal if Tate sits.
New York Giants wide receiver Darius Slayton had a huge game in Week 1 going for 100-plus yards and two touchdowns on six catches. Slayton tied with Saquon Barkley for the team lead with nine targets and will look to stay hot in a favorable matchup with the Bears in Week 2. Slayton had a nose for the end zone last season with eight scores on just 48 catches and, while that touchdown rate is unsustainable, he clearly has the trust of QB Daniel Jones in the red zone. Slayton is a startable WR3 in fantasy this week.
The New York Giants Defense is not a strong unit for fantasy and managers should look elsewhere for a D/ST in Week 2. The Giants had just two sacks in Week 1 and only forced one turnover from a forced fumble. New York was gashed on the ground by Benny Snell Jr last week so expect the Bears to keep the ball on the ground, limiting fantasy-point-opportunities for Big Blue's defense. Fantasy managers streaming D/ST should look elsewhere in Week 2.
New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones struggled somewhat in Week 1 as he turned the ball over twice, but he also had some encouraging throws and will face an easier matchup in Week 2 at Chicago. The Bears secondary was carved-up by Matthew Stafford last week despite missing his top wide receiver so expect a better output from Jones this week. Jones threw for over 3,000 yards as a rookie with a completion percentage over 60-percent with several weeks as a QB1 in fantasy. He has the talent to put up numbers in this matchup and is a low-end QB1 for Week 2.
New York Giants tight end Evan Engram was a massive letdown for fantasy managers on Monday night as he caught just two passes for nine yards vs Pittsburgh. He'll have an easier matchup in Week 2 vs the Bears and should still be considered a starting tight end for fantasy. Engram struggled in Week 1 but was still targeted seven times so he has a role in the passing game. If he turns a few of those targets into catches Engram has the athleticism to be a top-5 tight end in fantasy. Start the Giants tight end with confidence Week 2 at the Bears.
New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley left fantasy managers out in the cold on Monday night as he ran for just six yards on 15 carries vs a stout Steelers Defense. He'll look to atone for that performance in Week 2 with a much more favorable matchup in Chicago. The Bears allowed the ageless Adrian Peterson to rush for 93 yards on 14 carries (6.6 YPC) last week so there should be more running lanes for Barkley in the Windy City. Barkley did have 6 catches for 60 yards last week so he should be involved in both the passing game and rushing game this week making him a top-RB option in fantasy.
Washington Football Team tight end Logan Thomas led the offense in targets last week and will look to carry that success into a road matchup with the Cardinals. Thomas caught four of eight targets for 37 yards and a touchdown in Week 1 and now gets to face an Arizona defense that allowed the most fantasy points to tight ends in 2019. Thomas should see plenty of targets as Washington is in a position to throw the ball 35-plus times as road underdogs. Fire him up as a sneaky-good start in seasonal leagues or as a cheap option in DFS.
Washington Football Team wide receiver Steven Sims Jr only saw three targets last week, but should be more involved in Week 2 vs Arizona. Sims caught all three targets and turned them into 50 yards in a game where Washington only threw the ball 31 times. The Football Team will likely need to throw more this week as road-underdogs in a game with a higher over/under. Sims Jr should see plenty of targets with top-WR Terry McLaurin seeing coverage from All-Pro corner Patrick Peterson making him an intriguing sleeper for fantasy and a strong DFS play.
Washington Football Team wide receiver Terry McLaurin had a tough matchup in Week 1 vs Darius Slay and will face another top-flight cornerback in Week 2 at Arizona. Cornerback Patrick Peterson allowed just one catch on three targets last week and will undoubtedly be tasked with covering the one, true receiving threat on the Washington offense. Despite the tough matchup, fantasy managers shouldn't shy away from McLaurin in seasonal leagues. Washington should be in a position to throw the ball 35-plus times and there simply aren't enough weapons in this offense to take targets away from the second-year wideout. McLaurin is not a good DFS play this week, but he has one of the highest floors thanks to his target share making him a low-end WR2 for fantasy.
Washington Football Team running back Antonio Gibson was overshadowed by Peyton Barber in Week 1, but the rookie should be in a better position to score fantasy points this week at Arizona. Gibson only handled nine carries last week, but most of that was due to the team having a lead in the fourth quarter and leaning on the veteran Barber. Despite handling eight more carries than Gibson, the rookie still out-rushed Barber, albeit with only 36 yards. Expect Gibson to be more involved this week, especially in the passing game, making him a strong RB3 or flex option for fantasy.
Washington Football Team quarterback Dwayne Haskins played a solid game vs Philadelphia in Week 1 and will look to build on that performance in his first road test of 2020. Haskins didn't break any passing records last week, but he was effective in throwing for 178 yards and a touchdown and, most importantly, no turnovers. Now he'll face a Cardinals Defense that didn't force a turnover in Week 1 and allowed QB Kyler Murray to rush for 91 of the team's 180 rushing yards. Haskins should have some opportunities to make plays in what is projected to be a high-scoring game making him a low-end starter in 2QB leagues.