by Robert Plaschke (’22) & Nolan Wilbur (’22)
After Andrew Luck announced his retirement at the young age of 29, the question on our minds was, “Why would such a great talent retire at such a young age?” What immediately comes to mind is his injuries. Andrew Luck has spent most of his tenure in the NFL either injured or rehabbing, recovering from the relentless injuries he has gained from football. In 2015, Luck was blindsided in a sack against the Titans that initially started his four year long injury and recovery to his shoulder. The pressure to keep playing by the locker room, organization, and the media kept him playing through the 2015 and 2016 season. Two years later, Andrew Luck finally had surgery on his Shoulder that kept him in rehab up until the start of the 2019 season. This long stretch of fighting through injury and working through rehab not only affected him physically but mentally. But this brutal shoulder injury was not only plaguing Andrew Luck’s Career. Luck has been injured with a lacerated kidney, frayed labrum, concussion, broken ribs, and most recently calf strain throughout 2016 to 2019.
After all these injuries, Luck couldn’t bear the mental and physical toll on his body and finally decided to call his it quits after a Colts preseason game on August 24. During his retirement press conference Luck states, “I’m in pain, I’m still in pain. It’s been four years of this pain, rehab cycle.” Ultimately, he says: “It’s taken the joy out of this game.”
After getting hurt over and over, the injuries finally overwhelmed him to the point where he had to get out of this injury-rehab cycle and quit. Having to deal with this yearly could affect anyone, even someone who is considered a superstar athlete. As a society we put these athletes on a pedestal thinking that they cannot be affected by these issues. Luck’s retirement shines a light on how even the most elite athletes can deal with topics like mental health.
Coach grieb generously offered his opinion on both Luck’s retirement and the topic of unrealistic expectations of athletes in a recent interview.When asked about his opinions on Luck’s retirement, he said: “When you have had as [many] setbacks physically with the injuries he has had, it’s not just the injuries, it the pain your dealing with on a daily basis.” Also, when asked if he was surprised that Luck retired at with such a promising career, he said, “Injuries stay with you for the rest of your life so it doesn’t really surprise me…When you’re in pain it takes away your love and enjoyment of the sport.” Grieb also talked about his career and him dealing with injuries saying, “From the beginning of the season to the end I could count the number of days on one hand I wasn’t sore, it just takes longer for your body to heal.” Now that he is a coach he also talked about how he tries to make sure his players and how he tries to make it as safe as possible stating, “Everything we do from a coaching perspective is to make the game safe.”
Another topic that was reported was over was how the NFL could make it so players don’t get injured as often and have to retire at an early age. He said, “You can’t take injuries out the game or change someone’s individual style out of the game… There will always be physicality in the sport that’s why we love it.” Grieb finally made a great point how players know the risks of football saying: “These guys made a choice to play in the NFL they get paid a lot but they are the ones taking the risk.”
In all of these quotes, Coach Grieb goes over how injuries can really affect someone as a competitor and take someone’s love of the sport away. He even talked about personal accounts of getting hurt and being sore the entire year. After coming into the season as a Super Bowl favorite, the Colts now are in a troubled situation with having to name backup QB Jackoby Brissett as the Colts starter for the season. Brissett is an unproven NFL quarterback, prompting sophomore Thomas Molumphy to ask: ““Is he even verified on Instagram?” Last year, the Colts were able to make it to the AFC Semi-Final before losing to the Chiefs. This year, hopes were very high and experts expected Luck to lead the Colts to their 3rd Super Bowl win in franchise history. With weapons the offensive end such as T.Y Hilton and Eric Ebron and with a star studded defense with players such as Darius Leonard and Malik Hooker the team was destined to have a great season. For the first time Luck had a great offensive line to protect him and had every weapon on offense to help him succeed. But, after Luck announced his sudden retirement, this all changed. Brissett has little to no NFL experience, making the idea of a Colts Super Bowl very unrealistic. An NFL team is extremely reliant on their QB; so, when you go from an MVP candidate to a backup, it hurts a team’s chances a lot. Some still believe with a great supporting cast around Brissett he will able to be survable but will not be able to fill Lucks shoes. Instead of focusing on the SuperBowl this year, the Colts will have to worry about even winning their division. Without Luck, the Colts will have a rocky start but will be able to rebound with other great talents on the offensive and defensive side of the ball.