Opinion: Luke Kuechly retirement continues NFL trend. Good for him, and for fellow players

Luke Kuechly’s phrases rolled off his lips at a measured clip, and virtually monotone. 

“It’s by no means the appropriate time to step away,” the seven-time Professional Bowl linebacker stated early in the video message launched for him by way of the Carolina Panthers overdue Tuesday evening. “However now could be the appropriate time for me.”

Some of the NFL’s best possible within linebackers — scratch that. Some of the NFL’s best possible defensive gamers, length, is strolling clear of the sport. On the age of 28. And with two years and greater than $20 million ultimate on his contract. 

The scoop introduced with it preliminary wonder. However as Kuechly’s message to the sector persisted, it used to be glaring how neatly thought-out a choice he used to be making. As teammates and warring parties alike flooded social media with expressions of recognize and neatly needs for the eight-year veteran, it used to be glaring, they were given it.

Excellent-byes are by no means simple, particularly after they appear untimely. However as Kuechly joins Rob Gronkowski and Andrew Success to transform the 3rd elite-level participant within the final 12 months to retire prior to his 30th birthday, his choice featured a big level of normalcy as neatly. 

Luke Kuechly was the 2013 NFL defensive player of the year.

On this 100th season of the Nationwide Soccer League, the panorama continues to switch.

Nowadays’s NFL gamers are higher skilled on damage dangers, extra trade savvy and financially safe, and no more beholden to the sport. 

They nonetheless love professional soccer. That’s evidently, particularly listening to Kuechly communicate. 

“It makes me unhappy as a result of I have performed this recreation since I used to be a bit of child and it is my favourite factor on this planet to do,” he stated, and at one level he did combat again tears.

However Kuechly, whilst valuing the privilege of taking part in his boyhood recreation on the perfect point, values well being and long-term high quality of lifestyles much more. 

A minimum of 3 concussions and two shoulder surgical procedures since 2015 have taken their toll on his frame and his thoughts. And in spite of coming off of every other 16-game, 100-plus-tackle season that noticed him earn Pro Bowl and second-team all-pro honors, the linebacker didn’t feel like he could continue to adequately devote himself to the sport. 

“There’s only one way to play this game since I was a little kid — play fast, play physical and play strong,” he said. “And at this point I don’t know if I am able to do that anymore.”

And so, he’s walking away. 

These days we talk about the player empowerment era because of the way NFL stars have begun carrying themselves as businessmen. Some hold out for contracts that offer greater financial security. In some cases, they force their ways out of bad situations and into more favorable and competitive working environments. 

But decisions like Kuechly’s, Gronkowski’s and Luck’s also fall under the player empowerment umbrella. 

Because of the mega contracts high-profile players now often receive, guys are more financially secure. They can make more money in a shorter period of time compared to football players from a generation ago. And that gives today’s players the freedom to walk away from the game on their own terms; with their health — physically and mentally — intact instead of miserably hanging on and subjecting their bodies to punishment just for a paycheck. 

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