Stop whining about your fantasy roster. Andrew Luck didn't owe us anything

·Senior NFL writer

A lacerated kidney.

A partially torn abdomen.

Torn cartilage in two ribs.

A concussion.

A torn labrum in his throwing shoulder.

Lingering calf and ankle injuries.

The sport that Andrew Luck loves so dearly has ravaged him — mind, body and soul. He gave everything he had to this game, to his teammates, to his adopted home of Indianapolis, and to his rehab. But the price Luck paid for routinely sacrificing his body proved to be too much.

The physical and mental toll of the “cycle of injury, pain, rehab, injury, pain rehab” was ultimately “unceasing, unrelenting, both in-season and offseason,” Luck revealed Saturday night, during a surreal and stunning retirement announcement following the Colts' preseason loss to Chicago.

“I feel tired. And not just in a physical sense,” said the former No. 1 overall pick.

But more shocking than the timing of Luck's decision to retire at age 29 was the sense of entitlement permeating spaces that were far removed from the anguish the Pro Bowl quarterback endured the past four years.


Some members of the media.

Even convicted felon O.J. Simpson.

Some called him soft.


A typical “millennial.”

Others whined about the state of their fantasy rosters.

And worse, many booed him as he walked off the field at Lucas Oil Stadium for the last time as an NFL player.

“Yeah, it hurt. I'll be honest, it hurt,” Luck said.

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck speaks during a news conference following the team's NFL preseason football game against the Chicago Bears, Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019, in Indianapolis. The oft-injured star is retiring at age 29. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)
Colts quarterback Andrew Luck speaks during a media conference following a preseason game against the Chicago Bears on Saturday in Indianapolis. The oft-injured star is retiring at age 29. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)

Luck doesn't owe us anything.

Do not feel sad for him.

Stop saying the game “needs him.”

That disappointment, that sense of loss, that lack of fulfillment you're experiencing isn't about him. It's about you.

Your emotions.

Your beloved team.

Your fantasy roster.

Your obsession with Capt. Luck's Civil War-style musings on Twitter.

And, worse, your warped belief that football players can't walk away until you say so.

Luck is a generational quarterback, second only to Dan Marino (196) for most touchdowns thrown through the first six seasons of a career. His tenure with the Colts ends after 86 games played, four Pro Bowls and four playoff victories. In six seasons, he amassed 23,671 passing yards and 171 touchdowns.

And through it all, the game put his body through hell.

He missed the entire 2017 season following shoulder surgery, yet he returned last year to throw for 4,593 yards and 39 touchdowns. He also guided Indianapolis to the playoffs in 2018 and was named the league's Comeback Player of the Year.

The 2019 Colts appear to be on the verge of being a force in the AFC and Luck stands to make tens of millions of dollars more in the future. Still, he's choosing to walk away.

Imagine the introspection, the self-assurance, the courage it takes to walk away from teammates and a front office you love and respect, the sport you've adored since you were a child, and the expectations of others.

Luck's NFL life may now cease to exist. But his everyday life — the one where he is a husband, a soon-to-be father and (hopefully) a healthy and happy individual — continues.

“I haven't been able to live the life I want to live,” he said Saturday night. “It's taken the joy out of this game. After 2016, when I played in pain and wasn't regularly able to practice, I made a vow I wouldn't go down that path again. The only way forward is to remove myself from this cycle. I came to the proverbial fork in the road and made a vow if I ever did again, I would choose me, in a sense.”

Yet some fans had the gall to boo him.

If you need of a scapegoat for your hurt feelings and your fantasy rosters now in disarray, don't blame Luck. Instead, boo Ryan Grigson, the former Colts GM who allowed his star quarterback to get routinely battered behind a woeful offensive line. Or blame owner Jim Irsay for allowing Grigson to put Luck in harm’s way for as long as he did.

Luck is one of the NFL’s brightest stars and his sudden absence will undoubtedly leave a void in Indianapolis and inside the Colts’ building. And we — lovers of this national pastime — will miss seeing him surgically pick apart NFL defenses.

He'll now forever be linked to Jim Brown, Barry Sanders and Calvin Johnson — fellow NFL stars who exited the game on their terms, before fans were ready to see them leave. And, perhaps, we will begin to see more football players following suit.

Leaving on their own terms.

When they're ready.

When their bodies have had enough.

Regardless of what we think.

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