Andrew Luck Retired Early Because of Football's Mental and Physical Burdens

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Dec. 7 2023, Published 11:08 a.m. ET

Andrew Luck in a Stanford hat during a game against Oregon.
Source: Getty Images

The Gist:

  • Andrew Luck retired from the NFL at just 29 years old, and explained at the time that he no longer enjoyed football.
  • Andrew elaborated on that answer in 2022, saying that he didn't like the person he became when he was focused on football, and that repeated injuries had taken a toll on his body.
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After just seven seasons as an NFL quarterback, Andrew Luck shocked the world when he announced that he was retiring at just 29 years old in 2019. Andrew had already broken some franchise records for the Indianapolis Colts, and he had been to four Pro Bowls as well. He had had plenty of success, and was good enough that some have wondered whether he would make a comeback.

Ultimately, though, it seems that Andrew is retired for good. Even years later, though, there are still plenty of people who wonder what Andrew's exact reasons were.

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Andrew Luck in a Colts uniform playing the Arizona Cardinals.
Source: Getty Images

Why did Andrew Luck retire?

Andrew announced his retirement ahead of the 2019 season, and at the time, he cited his history of injuries as the primary reason for his decision.

"I've been stuck in this process. I haven't been able to live the life I want to live," he said at the time. "It's taken the joy out of this game. The only way forward for me is to remove myself from football. This is not an easy decision. It's the hardest decision of my life. But it is the right decision for me."

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In an interview with ESPN from 2022, Andrew went into more detail about his decision, explaining that he went to extremes during his time in the league in part so that he felt like he had some control over the outcome. That meant getting involved with offensive schemes and becoming a sort of shadow coach for the team, and also simplifying his life so much that all he had was a flip phone.

"To play quarterback, you're not allowed to worry about anything except the task at hand," he explained. "And that seeps into other areas of life. It's not the healthiest way to live."

After injuring his shoulder in 2015, Andrew also explained that he played several seasons with the injury, even when both he and the Colts owner were assuring the public that he was perfectly healthy and ready to play.

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Andrew added that his focus on recovery and football alienated him from his wife.

"There were some things that when I looked in the mirror, I did not like about myself," he said. "I was self-absorbed, withdrawn, in pain, and feeling pressure."

When Andrew injured his ankle in 2018 and began withdrawing into himself again, he realized that he didn't actually like playing football anymore.

Ultimately, Andrew said that he went to therapy and learned that he may never have perfect clarity on every aspect of his life. "I doubt I will ever find the answers," he said. "All of them. Or any answers."

In the years since his retirement, Andrew has surfaced occasionally, and it seems like he's much happier than he was while he was playing.

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