Carolina Panthers’ superstar linebacker Luke Kuechly made the shocking announcement of his decision to retire from the NFL at the age of 28 in a video posted to the team’s official Twitter account on Tuesday night.
Kuechly, the 2013 NFL Defensive Player of the Year, becomes yet another football player to retire young, joining former Indianapolis Colt’s quarterback Andrew Luck, who announced his retirement last year, as the most recent players to do so.
“There’s only one way to play this game since I was a little kid: play fast, play physical and play strong,” Kuechly said (h/t ESPN). “And at this point I don’t know if I am able to do that anymore. That’s the part that is the most difficult.”
While no specific reasons were given as to what led to Kuechly’s decision, it can be easily assumed it had to do with concussions, as he has missed seven games during his career due to them and even wore an experimental device named the “Q Collar” around his neck the past three seasons, which the inventor claimed reduced the risk of concussions.
“In my heart, I know it’s the right thing to do.” pic.twitter.com/mSDyJ0iEMw
— Carolina Panthers (@Panthers) January 15, 2020
“I still want to play, but I don’t think it’s the right decision,” Kuechly stated. “I thought about it for a long time. Now is an opportunity to step away with what’s going on here.”
“I think now is the right chance for me to move on,” Kuechly said. “It makes me sad because I love playing this game — I’ve played it since I was a kid. It’s my favorite thing in the world to do. The memories I have from this place and this organization and being on the field with these guys — they’ll never go away.”
Kuechly’s 18 interceptions are the most by a linebacker in the NFL since 2012 and the third most in Panthers’ franchise history.