Andrew Luck has finally opened up about what led to his abrupt retirement from the NFL and the regrets he felt afterward.
The former Colts quarterback sat down with ESPN’s Seth Wickersham for a retrospective piece that begins with the 2012 No. 1 pick in Indianapolis, where Luck has lived even after hanging up his jersey. It also expands and narrates the moments before, during and after the final shoot.
The story follows Luck visiting Summit High School in Colorado in August, where a kid asked him what his biggest NFL regret was. Luck suddenly retired after the Colts’ preseason game in 2019 at the age of 29, and he could have done it.
“I’m sorry to retire,” he said.
Luck said he felt like he was letting people down, a fear that came after his career. He left after a productive 2018 season in which he caught 39 touchdown passes, led the Colts to the playoffs and won the NL Player of the Year. Still, it was painful.
Midway through the season, his foot and ankle injuries became a problem. Instead of retiring immediately after the 2018 playoffs, Luck waited until August to make the call. The mat defender felt the time was not right to retire, citing previous injuries and other issues that were starting to add up.
After undergoing labrum surgery during 2017, Luck still seemed to have a weak shoulder. Rehab didn’t work for him at first, and after a spirited trip to Holland with Colts quarterback coach Willem Kramer, he felt more disconnected from his career and marriage than ever before.
“There were things I didn’t like when I looked in the mirror,” Luck told ESPN. “I was self-absorbed, withdrawn, hurt and pressured.”
His injuries and the constant desire to be with his wife Nicole and daughter Lucy led to Luck’s decision to leave the gridiron – choosing to be a father and husband to an NFL QB. The pressure that comes with the No. 1 pick built over time, but it was evident even before the Stanford product arrived in the NFL.
He said the media attention leading up to the project’s development “prompted him to get away from the story that felt scripted.” Although no one knows how Luck’s full story will end, we now know that there was a time when his personal life was bigger than football.
“To play quarterback, you can’t worry about anything but the job,” Luck said. “And it spills over into other areas of life. It’s not the healthiest way to live.”
The four-time Pro Bowler retired with 171 touchdowns, 2.3671 passing yards, a career completion percentage of 60.8 and a 53-33 regular season record.