Houston-raised football star Andrew Luck announced his retirement from the NFL over the weekend, surprising many observers and sports fans.
Luck was the top NFL draft pick in 2012, and he has played for the Indianapolis Colts ever since. Luck has a 53-33 record of wins throughout his career. But he has battled multiple injuries, as well as mental challenges. Luck says those challenges ultimately led to his decision to leave football.
Daron Roberts is the founding director of the Center for Sports Leadership and Innovation at the University of Texas at Austin. He’s also a former NFL coach and the author of the book “Call an Audible.” Roberts says Luck’s decision is surprising because of his talent as a player. But injuries have taken a toll.
“You look at a list of injuries that would definitely impact anyone,” Roberts says.
They include a lacerated kidney, torn cartilage in two ribs, a partially torn abdominal muscle and at least one concussion.
“I think we really need to acknowledge the vulnerability that it takes for someone like him, in a year that many thought the Colts had a chance to go pretty far, to step away from the game,” Roberts says.
Roberts says fans booed as Luck left the field after a game on Saturday. He says that was disappointing.
“I think this is a prime example of what I call ‘toxic fandom,'” Roberts says. “I think it’s important for us to understand that we can’t really put ourselves in their shoes. But if someone is telling us at the height of his career that he needs to step away, we need to really praise this individual for acknowledging that his mental health is really the most important thing, and allow him to leave in grace.”
Roberts expects more players to walk away from the game earlier, in order to secure their mental and physical health after retirement. And for a quarterback like Luck, the punishment is brutal.
“To be a professional quarterback is to stand in oncoming traffic for 90 plays, at the minimum at least 20 weeks a year,” Roberts says.
Written by Shelly Brisbin.