FOXBORO – Phillip Dorsett spent his first two NFL seasons with Andrew Luck in Indianapolis.
He, like the rest of the football-watching world, was left wide-eyed Saturday night when he learned Luck was retiring at 29.
“I was shocked,” said Dorsett, who said he fell asleep watching football then woke up to see the news on social media. “I thought it was a joke. But then I saw it come on the ticker and I said, ‘Wow, it’s serious.’ ”
The reverberations around the league from Luck’s retirement will be felt everywhere from the balance of power in the AFC to the fact that it’s another young player who’s been laid low by the mental and physical toll the game exacts.
Beyond the timing of the announcement and the talent of the player is the fact that a smart, earnest and admirable person is leaving the game at an age we would all consider too young.
“He was an amazing teammate,” said Dorsett. “Great guy to be around. Always full of joy. Nothing but respect for Andrew. I love him. He’s a good dude. But it is what it is. It’s football. I can’t sit here and say I know what he was going through because nobody does. But I know it’s tough on him, I know he didn’t want to walk away but he had to do what he had to do for himself."
There are unmistakable parallels to be drawn between Luck and Rob Gronkowski. Both talked of the mental fatigue of trying to get their bodies tuned up just to be betrayed by them.
With both men, the conversation about whether or not they’ll stay retired quickly followed. There’s a presumption they’ll change their minds at some point when their bodies feel better.
Maybe they will. But in order for either player to come back, both will have to get to a point where they feel the competition, camaraderie, financial reward and everything else are worth the cost of playing again.
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