Skip to main content


All Out of “Luck”

by Luke Schambow (‘25) 

Throughout the 2021 NFL season, fans pour into stands and pack stadiums around the country for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic devastated the sports world. From Seattle to Miami and every city in between, people of all ages and walks of life are eager, hoping they will see their favorite player lead their team to victory. However, behind the pads and helmets, do the fans really care about the players as people?

At Lucas Oil Stadium in Indiana, some fans of the Indianapolis Colts may have a unique perspective on this question. During a routine preseason game against the Chicago Bears, rumors began to fly around the stands in Indianapolis. Unconfirmed reports said that Andrew Luck, who was on the sidelines rehabbing a nagging ankle injury, was retiring from the game of football at the young age of 29. By the time the game concluded, the rumors were confirmed, and fans were anything but pleased. As Luck walked off the field that Saturday night in late August, he was booed until he took his last steps off the field.

It had only been about seven years prior when Andrew Luck took his first steps on the field in the NFL. Coming out of Stanford University, he was highly regarded, often being considered the most NFL-ready quarterback of the generation, drawing comparisons to NFL legends such as John Elway. Luck was the consensus number one overall draft pick in 2011, going to the quarterback-starved Indianapolis Colts. It was no secret he was their guy, as the fans had adopted the slogan ‘Suck for Luck’ the previous season in the hopes that their team would be bad enough to have the first pick and draft the phenom. The fans adored the West Coast kid, giving him rave reviews as early as his first NFL rookie camp. Luck lived up to the hype, breaking virtually every Colts’ single season rookie record that involved the throwing of a football. He continued his hot streak the rest of his career, going on to break the Colts’ single season passing yards record (4,671) and making four Pro Bowl Appearances. For six seasons, he was everything the franchise drafted him for.

The next day, Luck held a press conference to officially announce his departure from the game. Throughout the presser, he explained his decision, basing it solely on the injuries that continued to plague his career. “I haven’t been able to live the life I want to live,” Luck said, working to hold back tears. “It’s taken the joy out of this game. The only way forward for me is to remove myself from football.” Luck’s remarks do not come without merit either. During his six-year career in the NFL, his injuries included torn cartilage in two ribs, a concussion, a lacerated kidney, a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder (that kept him sidelined for the entire 2017 season), and the ankle injury that ended up being his last. Although the average age of the NFL starting quarterback is 30, it’s hard to find someone as battled as Andrew Luck at age 29.

Aside from his injuries, Luck had a lot going for him off the field. He didn’t just go to Stanford for the football scholarship – he was a genius. In 2012, he graduated with his degree in architectural design and received the university’s Al Masters Award for athletic and academic achievement. During his time with Indianapolis, he was considered by those around him to be an avid reader, often being considered the Colts’ team librarian and the one to come to for a book suggestion. Luck also openly discussed the idea of teaching instead of football, saying in 2018 that he could be happy teaching high school history. Aside from his bright mind, Luck also married his long-time girlfriend in March of 2019. At the time of his retirement in August 2019, Luck and his wife were expecting a child. To put it plainly, he had a life outside of football.

This concept is where the disconnect happens. A lot of football fans simply do not understand the whole “life outside of football” idea, and it’s all about the limited perspective fans have. They only see the players out on the field for a few hours on a Sunday afternoon for a few months a year, and that’s pretty much it. The day-to-day pain and rehab and the offseason surgeries for players like Luck is outside fans’ field of view, and that is driving the stigma around football players and their personal choice about their health. It’s a stigma that’s been there for a long time – Andrew Luck was just one of the first to ignore it. Many fans wanted him to shut up and play, but he was simply tired of being stuck in the process of injury and rehab. He was tired of recovering from injuries in a matter of weeks when he should have been sidelined for months. Pushing his body was no longer worth it. Perhaps it shouldn’t have been a surprise for some. In 2017, Luck explained his view on football, saying, “I love being a football player, but it isn’t my identity, never has been.”

To say that Andrew Luck had better things to do than to play football is debatable, but it may not be out of the picture. Reports today say that he is loving his retirement. Although fans are clamoring for his return to football, Luck’s former teammates are confident he will stay retired. Colts’ owner Jim Irsay says he considers Luck more retired now than he was two years ago. With his return almost all but out of the question, maybe some fans can accept the reality of the situation: it’s the player’s choice. Luck made physical sacrifices for the fans for years, and his tough choice to walk away from football should be met with admiration instead of disdain. The Andrew Luck situation could very well open an era of players prioritizing their health and worrying about the person that they are off the field instead of on it. Whether that is coming or not, fans need to open, understanding, and save their boos for another time. 

Intranet Login

Contact Us

University of Cincinnati
College of Medicine

CARE/Crawley Building
Suite E-870
3230 Eden Avenue
PO Box 670555
Cincinnati, OH 45267-0555

Mail Location: 0555
Phone: TBD
Fax: TBD
Email: TBD