During a ho-hum preseason game between the Indianapolis Colts and the Chicago Bears, ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweeted, “Andrew Luck just made it official — he’s retiring, and emotional about it.”
The report jolted and jarred the sports universe. However, Luck had already informed Colts CEO James Irsay, general manager Chris Ballard and his teammates.
The news raged through the crowd like an airborne virus. Of course, football fans often operate in a delirious state. Thus one fan’s intemperance compelled him to snatch off his Luck jersey and fling it from the stands; other fans booed Luck which cut him.
Many fans and commentators considered Luck’s retirement an affront. After all, these beer swilling, soda pop guzzling, hot dog stuffing and popcorn gorging fans had invested a lot — and expected a lot. They bought Colts season tickets. Luck’s decision derailed Colts fans’ Super Bowl hopes, and yes, his retirement wrecked their Fantasy Football teams. My, my, my.
The people who derided and demeaned Luck’s decision disregarded his injuries — two torn rib cartilages, a partially torn abdomen, a lacerated kidney which caused him to urinate blood, a torn labrum, the socket joint in his throwing arm which forced him to miss the 2017 season and the current calf and ankle injury that has defied a diagnosis. Therefore, it’s uncertain when Luck would have been available to play during the 2019 season.
Luck’s perspective changed during the 2016 season — a torture chamber. Luck played despite his injuries. He decided if he encountered a similar crisis, he’d forsake temporary glory and adulation; he’d exercise self-care.
Suppose your work or love relationship threaten your mental, physical and psychological health. Furthermore, the toxicity is mushrooming. You tell your employer or your lover you’re ending the relationship. Yet your family or friends urge you to reconsider; they tell you you’re living the American dream. What would you do?
NFL propagandists pervert heroism and courage by exalting players like Jim Otto. He played every game during his 15-year career. However, surgeons amputated his leg and he endured 40 surgeries.
Another example is Rob Gronkowski. During the 2019 Super Bowl he caught a short pass then St. Louis Rams defenders Cory Littleton and Mark Barron cannonballed him which catapulted the 265-pound Gronk into the air and devastated his quad. Determined, Gronkowski continued to play and the New England Patriots won the Super Bowl.
Yet that night the pain knifed through Gronkowski’s leg; his sleep was spasmodic eked out in 20-minute intervals interspersed with Gronkowski’s crying.
Gronkowski’s internal bleeding persisted. He required three surgeries to drain the bleeding. Exasperated, he retired.
“Football was bringing me down and I didn’t like it,” he told ESPN.com. “I was losing the joy in life.”
Sports Illustrated’s William Nack wrote, “They are the wincing, hobbling, wounded — the men who played professional football, a notoriously joint-shearing, disk-popping, nerve-numbing exercise.”
What a description.
In addition, the repeated neck snapping, head twisting and brain rattling hits the players take compromise brain function. The Boston University School of Medicine study found 110 of 111 brains from ex-NFL players revealed evidence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy. CTE is a degenerative disease characterized by memory loss, mood disorders, dementia and other brain-related problems.
In 2000, 28-year-old Robert Smith’s 1,541 yards led the NFC in rushing. The fleet running back was entering free agency and millions awaited him. Instead Smith walked away from the NFL.
In a 2015 interview he explained his decision by saying, “If you’d pay anything to restore your health, why continue to do something — regardless of the money — that jeopardized your health?”