Carolina Panthers Linebacker Luke Kuechly became the latest NFL star to retire before the age of 30. The five-time All-Pro linebacker announced his retirement in a Twitter video on Tuesday.
The 28-year-old Kuechly, who won the 2013 Associated Press Defensive Player of the Year, offered a teary-eyed account on why he arrived to his decision to retire after eight seasons.
“There’s only one way to play this game since I was a little kid — to play fast, to play physical and to play strong, and at this point, I don’t know if I’m able to do that anymore and that’s the part that is the most difficult.”
His logic makes sense for a player who has battled injury during through 118 regular season games. Despite only missing 10 games in eight seasons, Kuechly decided he want to give less than his best on the field.
The seven-time Pro Bowler noted that the arrival of new Panthers head coach Matt Rhule had nothing to do with his decision retire. Instead, it’s solely based on where he feels his abilities as a player are headed.
Kuechly becomes the third big name to retire before their 30th birthday in the last year. Former New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski and Indianapolis Colts quarterback retired before the start of the 2019 regular season.
Much like Gronkowski and Luck, Kuechly’s body betrayed him as he got older. The Pro Bowl linebacker battled bumps and bruises but most notably, has struggled with concussions.
Thankfully, he is getting out of the game in one piece before things get far worse for him physically.