OWINGS MILLS, Md. - Late Saturday evening, as Ravens players and coaches ended their nights, news of Andrew Luck's retirement reverberated throughout the league.
At their homes, offensive coordinator Greg Roman and quarterback Robert Griffin III - both of whom knew Luck personally - called his retirement shocking.
"I had the opportunity to work with Andrew Luck at Stanford University and it was a great experience working with him," Roman said. "Obviously, he's a very talented football player, but he's a very talented human being as well. I was slightly shocked."
Roman, the tight ends and offensive tackles coach at Stanford in 2009 and 2010, had worked with Luck early in his Cardinal career.
In 2010, Luck finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting behind Cam Newton in an offense that was designed by Roman.
"I sent him a text, and I'm sure I'll talk to him here in the near future," Roman said. "Andrew, I can't speak enough for his character and the kind of person he is. He's a special person and I wish he and his family nothing but the best."
In the 2011 season, after Roman had left to be the San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator, Luck placed second in the Heisman voting once again. This time, he finished behind Griffin.
Luck, 29, and Griffin had been linked for the majority of their careers, starting in the Heisman race in 2011. But Griffin said the two had been linked much earlier than that.
"I've always been competing against Andrew silently," Griffin said. "We both grew up in Texas, we were almost teammates at Stanford. We got to meet through the awards season in college football. At the Heisman, not everybody knows this, but they give you an option to go out and see the city or you can bring all the guys with you. Made the decision to bring everybody with us and it drew us all closer. I've always been rooting for him since."
Much love to my fellow Texas brother.
Stiil remember our time together as Heisman finalists and how we laughed about almost being teammates at Stanford. The decision was only yours to make and I'm glad you have found peace in it. Respect https://t.co/4MQzsyZ9hz
— Robert Griffin III (@RGIII) August 25, 2019
Griffin won Rookie of The Year, but suffered a devastating knee injury in the playoffs and never returned to his rookie year status in Washington.
He returned and started games in the 2013 and 2014 seasons, but never regained his firm grip on the position, partially due to a dislocated ankle in the second game of the 2014 season.
He left the Redskins after the 2015 season and then spent a year in Cleveland before he was out of the game altogether in 2017. It's on that level where Griffin can relate, in some ways, to what Luck is going through.
"When I was out of football in 2017, I can't say I was to the point where I was making the decision to retire," Griffin began. "But, I was at the point where you're tired of being injured, tired of being hurt and tired of going through that process. I think he called it pain, injury, rehab, and just repeating that process over and over and over. I can completely understand where he's coming from."
Luck had injury problems of his own in his career, of which the injuries were not insignificant.
Physical toll on Andrew Luck through 6 NFL seasons:
» Torn cartilage in 2 ribs
» partially torn abdomen
» a lacerated kidney that left him peeing blood
» at least 1 concussion
» a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder
» and this mysterious calf/ankle issue that led to this
— Zak Keefer (@zkeefer) August 25, 2019
Added up, Luck decided it was best for him to retire. The news broke, however, during a Colts preseason game. That left time for Indianapolis fans to find out the news, and let their displeasure heard in the form of booing as Luck left the field.
"We're looked at as superheroes and not human beings," Griffin said. "For him to have that human element, to express it in the press conference after the game, go and talk to the media and answer questions, I thought that was really big."
With Luck out of the game, the top two picks linked in everyone's minds from an increasingly-infamous 2012 draft is now down to one.
Everyone in the NFL, however, in former teammates or competitors know just how special of a career that Luck had.
"For a guy to go out and do what he's done in his six or seven years, it's been amazing," Ravens special teams coach Chris Horton said. "That guy, whatever he is going to do, has made the right decision for himself and that's really what it comes down to. This game of football, we all love it. I saw his press conference, and he just talked about how much he loved football. It's true, but we all also understand that at some point we've got to think about life after football a little bit."
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