Andrew Luck

49ers' Richard Sherman criticizes fans booing Andrew Luck's retirement

49ers' Richard Sherman criticizes fans booing Andrew Luck's retirement

SANTA CLARA – Football is no ordinary job.

But 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman wishes people would be more cognizant of the fact that those inside the uniforms are just ordinary people.

“There’s something to be said about the fanship of this game, because that’s obviously what’s elevated our game to be the best sport in America,” Sherman said on The 49ers Insider Podcast.

“But, at the same time, there is a degree of human that needs to be injected into these fan bases that I think they’re losing touch with. I think every day, every hour, every year, these fan bases are getting further and further from understanding that these are human beings out there playing.”

Sherman, like many around the country, was appalled that former Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck was booed by his home fans as he left the playing field Saturday night after it became known of his plan to retire.

Luck, 29, had his best season in 2018, and the Colts were considered a team primed for a playoff run.

“Let’s take the helmet off the guy and stop thinking about him as a football player and just think about him as a person,” Sherman said. “His injuries were well-documented. They were well-documented. You could see it. You could see the hits he was taking.

“Imagine you getting into 30 car wrecks and saying, ‘I don’t want to drive any more.’ and people saying, ‘Man, it’s so ridiculous he’s not driving any more.’ Well, he just doesn’t want to get in any more accidents.”

Sherman and Luck were teammates at Stanford University before both became stars in the NFL. Sherman said football players should not be held in any different light than people in other professions -- people who make career decisions in the best interest of their health and their families.

“I want them to separate football and people, just like they would their own jobs,” Sherman said. “I want them to think about them, whatever their occupation is, everybody’s job is important. I don’t care whether you’re a janitor at a high school or the CEO of Google. Everybody’s job is important; everybody’s role is important. And I believe that.

“I don’t know what you’re going through as the janitor at the high school. I don’t know what you’re going through as the CEO, but I think we’re losing the human element of sympathy and empathy.”

Luck explained his decision on Saturday:

"For the last four years or so I've been in this cycle of injury, pain, rehab -- injury, pain, rehab,” he said. “And it's been unceasing and unrelenting both in-season and offseason. I felt stuck in it. The only way I see out is to no longer play football. It's taken my joy of this game away.”

Sherman said part of the problem is how NFL players are viewed -- in their pads and helmets – as individuals who are different from everyone else.

“You may see them as something more than human, but they’re not,” Sherman said. “They’re flesh and blood. They bleed, they break. They have mental struggles. They have the ups and downs just like you do on a day-to-day basis. And I think if more people took that perspective, and took that understanding … then we’d have less people attacking them on social media.”

[RELATED: Andrew Luck deserves praise for seeking happiness]

Luck was forced to sit out the entire 2017 season with a shoulder injury. He had been rehabbing an ankle injury throughout the entire offseason and training camp when he made the decision to step away. He left the field for the final time as a member of the Colts to a cascade of boos.

“That situation shook everybody because it showed the ugly part of this sport,” Sherman said. “That’s a man who didn’t just rehab for him and his family, but he rehabbed so he could get back out there for the city of Indianapolis and go help them win games.

“And then to boo him like he was being selfish, when he’s been selfless this whole time, it’s one of those (things) where you’ve given people everything for so long that the moment you take one thing for yourself, you’re a bad guy. He’s given himself to the city and been selfless and taken nothing for himself, and the moment he takes something for himself it’s like he never gave them anything.”

Andrew Luck deserves praise for seeking happiness with NFL retirement


Andrew Luck deserves praise for seeking happiness with NFL retirement

There are moments in each of our lives where it comes time to decide whether or not you’ll be true to yourself, to the person you are and the life you want to live. 

Most people don’t make decisions based solely on what they feel in their hearts. They take into account what others think about them and the vision others in their life have for them and who they are. They don’t choose themselves. They choose to live a life with more questions than answers. Of "what ifs" and what "could bes." 

Andrew Luck is not most people. 

The 29-year-old former Stanford star stunned the world Saturday when he retired from the NFL, citing his four-year struggle with injuries. 

Immediately the criticism came, fast and hard from the worst parts of the internet. 

Luck was “soft” and “not a competitor.” FOX Sports' Doug Gottlieb blamed the millennial frame of mind for Luck -- a generational talent  -- stepping away from the Colts because “rehab was too hard.” 

Colts fans booed Luck as he left the field following Indianapolis’ preseason game against the Bears. A decision they surely already regret. 

Then Luck stood in front of the media, his coach, general manager and owner and opened himself up.

He explained how the injuries he’s sustained — a lacerated kidney that left him peeing blood, a torn labrum in his shoulder, at least one concussion, a partially torn abdomen, torn rib cartilage and the now mysterious ankle/calf injury — had robbed him of something he probably thought he’d never lose. 

“For the last four years I’ve been in this cycle of injury, pain, rehab, injury, pain, rehab’” Luck said while getting choked up. “It’s been unceasing and unrelenting both in season and off. And the only way out I see is to no longer play football. 

“It’s taken my joy of the game away. I’ve been stuck in this process. I haven’t been able to live the life I want to live ... I’ve come to the proverbial fork in the road and I told myself that if I ever did, I would choose me in a sense.” 

Luck has always loved football, and while it outwardly defined him to the public, he never was just a football player. 

In 2011, Luck stunned the football world by passing up being the No. 1 overall draft pick to return to Stanford, finish his degree and try to lead the Cardinal to a national championship. 

Upon making his decision, his father, Oliver Luck, called the criticism of his son’s choice “a Rorschach test for people’s values systems.” 

Those words ring true of his son’s decision to retire as well. 

The criticism of Luck as “soft” and not wanting to work through his rehab comes from a sect of people who saw Luck show more courage behind that podium than he ever did while taking a beating on the gridiron. They know they couldn’t be as true themselves as Luck was. 

For most of his conscious life, Luck loved football. He found joy in throwing passes to Chris Owusu and Zach Ertz at Stanford. He took pride in representing the city of Indianapolis. He loved Colts receiver T.Y. Hilton and said last season was the most fun he’s had on a field. He excelled at the game in a way few ever have. 

Then he woke one day and found the thing that he loved so much no longer brought him joy, ecstasy or fulfillment. Instead, it brought him pain and anguish. 

Luck showed introspection and vulnerability few are truly able to. He looked inside himself and decided it was time to stop hurting. Time to give himself to something else, whatever that may be. He saw a multitude of different paths his life could take from this point on and they didn’t include throwing a football or being pummeled to the ground. 

Everyone has moments in their life where they are unhappy with their career, relationship, lifestyle or overall path in life. Where the thing they once poured their heart into has become toxic to their well being. They tell themselves they’ll change, cut ties with that thing or person and set their life on a course toward happiness and fulfillment. 

But that’s easier said than done. 

Those criticizing Luck know they lack the strength and courage to make that kind of choice. It’s easier to have an excuse for why you’re unhappy and give yourself a false hope that you could change it in a moment's notice. To step back and examine your life and dreams and tell yourself that should no longer be the path you walk -- that takes uncommon strength and bravery. 

After the Colts beat the Titans to close the 2018 season and clinch a playoff berth, Luck met Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota at midfield — Mariota missed the game with a nerve issue he battled all season — and Luck offered him some words of encouragement. 

“He kind of told me to keep fighting through it,” Mariota said, via “That it’s a journey and not to worry about the ups and downs and to just learn from it and get healthy as quickly as possible.”

[RELATED: Jon Gruden surprised, not shocked, by Luck retiring from NFL]

Eight months later, Luck’s football journey ended with an emotional press conference at Lucas Oil Stadium. He no longer found joy in football and so he said goodbye. It was painful, but it also gave him great clarity. 

He saw a vision for his life that didn’t include being in pain. He saw a better existence, one unburdened by the anguish the game he once loved has caused him. 

No matter your place on Earth, everyone struggles with being able to cut out parts of their lives that have become toxic to their well being. The search for true happiness and fulfillment is a journey we all share. 

I hope Andrew Luck finds it. I’ll be rooting for him. 

Jon Gruden says 'NFL will miss' recently retired Colts QB Andrew Luck

Jon Gruden says 'NFL will miss' recently retired Colts QB Andrew Luck

ALAMEDA -- Jon Gruden knows Andrew Luck well, as a player and a person.

The Raiders head coach had tons of interactions with the four-time Pro Bowler during his previous job as ESPN color commentator and analyst, and has made no secret of his great respect and admiration for Luck.

It doesn’t hurt that Luck ran variations of Gruden’s favorite play, Spider 2Y Banana, more than just about anyone while quarterbacking the Cardinal.

Gruden loves Luck’s work ethic and toughness, but was not floored like many when the Colts quarterback retired on Saturday night.

“I was a little surprised like everybody else, but not shocked,” Gruden said. “He has had some injuries. If you know Andrew, he’s not just one of the great quarterbacks. He’s a great competitor and is really advanced in life. I’m sure there’s a million things he can do."

Luck decided to hang ‘em up after battling yet another injury issue, this time to his calf and ankle. He has dealt with significant injuries through most of his career, including significant issues with his throwing shoulder.

[RELATED: How Luck's retirement eases Raiders’ early season schedule]

The Colts were a legitimate Super Bowl contender, but their outlook took a huge hit when one of the NFL’s best signal callers chose to retire.

“The NFL will miss him,” Gruden said. “I know I’ll miss competing against him. He’s a good friend and great player. I wish him the best.”