Andrew Luck finally spoke about what led to his abrupt retirement from the NFL and the regret he felt afterwards.
The ex-Colts quarterback spoke to ESPN’s Seth Wickersham for a thoughtful play that begins with the 2012 No. 1 overall pick in Indianapolis, where Luck has lived even after hanging up his shoes. It also expands and narrates moments before, during and after his last snap.
The story tells how Luck attended Summit High School in Colorado in August, where a kid asked him what his biggest NFL regret was. Luck abruptly retired in 2019 at the age of 29 after a Colts preseason game and wished he could do it again.
“I regret the timing of my retirement,” he said.
Luck went on to say that he felt he was letting people down, a fear that followed his career. He quit after a productive 2018 season in which he threw 39 touchdown passes, led the Colts to the playoffs, and was named NL Comeback Player of the Year. Still, he was in pain.
Midway through the season, his foot and ankle became an injury problem. Instead of retiring right after the 2018 playoffs, Luck waited until August to make the call. The burly quarterback felt the timing of his retirement wasn’t right, insisting previous injuries and other problems were adding up.
After labrum surgery cost him all of 2017, Luck still felt like his shoulder was weak. Rehab didn’t strengthen him at first, and after the Colts quarterback took a trip to the Netherlands with coach Willem Kramer, he felt more disconnected from his career and marriage than ever.
“There were some things I didn’t like about myself when I looked in the mirror,” Luck told ESPN. “I was self-absorbed, withdrawn, in pain and feeling pressure.”
His injuries and desire to have a constant presence for wife Nicole and daughter Lucy ultimately played into Luck’s decision to leave the griddle — and choose to be a father and husband over an NFL QB. The pressure that comes with being a No. 1 pick increased over time, but was evident even before the Stanford product arrived in the NFL.
He said the media attention leading up to the draft “caused him to break free from a story that felt like it was written.” While no one knows how Luck’s full story will end, we now know that there came a time when his personal life grew larger than football.
“To play quarterback, you don’t have to worry about anything other than the task at hand,” Luck said. “And that seeps into other areas of life. It’s not the healthiest way to live.”
The four-time Pro Bowler retired with 171 touchdowns, 2,3671 passing yards, a 60.8 career completion percentage and a 53-33 regular season record.