Carolina Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly walked away from football on Tuesday night, a shocking retirement announcement from one of the NFL's best defenders.
A seven-time Pro Bowler, a five-time All Pro and the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year in 2013, Kuechly retiring at the age of 28 comes as major news.
"In my heart I know it's the right thing to do," Kuechly said of leaving football. "There's only one way to play this game since I was a little kid – play fast, play physical and play strong. And at this point I don't know if I am able to do that anymore."
Kuechly has dealt with a number of serious injuries in his eight-year career and has played through incredible pain. In 2016 and 2018 he underwent offseason shoulder surgery, and perhaps more alarming, Kuechly had at least three concussions during his playing career.
A number of NFL players took to Twitter reacting to the news, including Redskins quarterback Dwayne Haskins and others.
Wowww. Always loved watching you play. It was a pleasure playing against you. True leader on and off the field. God bless 🙏 https://t.co/GbHifP90rG— Dwayne Haskins, Jr🌹 (@dh_simba7) January 15, 2020
I had the privilege of playing next to HOF #MikeSingletary & coaching HOF @BUrlacher54 & @LukeKuechly is worthy of that honor someday. But more important I will remember Luke’s sense of humor, his leadership & 4 being a great teammate. pic.twitter.com/MM96l6vZSS— Ron Rivera (@RiverboatRonHC) January 15, 2020
Words can’t describe who Luke Kuechly is as a person, friend, and teammate. We have shared countless memories together both on the field and away from it. I feel honored to be his friend and I’ll always appreciate the impact he has had on my life. Love you buddy pic.twitter.com/0DHYkOwDp1— Greg Olsen (@gregolsen88) January 15, 2020
Kuechly had two years and more than $10 million left on his contract. This move is clearly not about money. And sure, Kuechly played his whole career for new Redskins coach Ron Rivera, but don't expect that reuinion to occur down the road. This looks like a heavy decision that Kuechly has given serious thought.
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