Luke Kuechly Joins the Group of Guys Retiring from Football Before They Turn 30.

Oct 10, 2016; Charlotte, NC, USA; Carolina Panthers middle linebacker Luke Kuechly (59) before the game at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports ORG XMIT: USATSI-268376 ORIG FILE ID: 20161010_bsd_sd2_437.JPG

Back when I was watching the Bills and Texans game with my wife, she asked me if I’d ever let our child play football.

I’m pretty sure I said “no” before she’d even finished asking. It’s a weird way for someone who is admittedly a football fan to not even consider letting their child play the game, but fuck it; there’s no way I’m letting my kid play football. Playing football sucks. If I can help it, my kid will never play a down of football. There’s other sports.

The NFL season started with Andrew Luck announcing his surprise retirement, admitting to himself and the world that he couldn’t deal with the constant pain on trying to rehab to play football. The season will end with Luke Kuechly, one of the best linebackers in football, retiring before his 30th birthday, for pretty much the same reasons.

Kuechly once got a concussion so bad that he burst into tears on the field; I don’t blame him a bit for not wanting to play anymore, especially for a league that’s been notoriously iffy about taking even the slightest amount of responsibility for the pain they put their players in.

It’s way too early to start crowing about football having a “crisis”; it’s the biggest sport in America, and I can’t imagine that would stop anytime soon. Football has at least two more generations before the number of parents willing to subject their children to a lifetime of pain and CTE.

Still, it does beg the question; how many guys are going to start to feel like playing football, for all the fun and love they have with the game, is no longer worth it? If it can happen for guys like Luck and Kuechly, who are bonafide All-Pro players who, with lengthy careers, probably would’ve been Hall of Famers just based on generally being well liked, why shouldn’t more players consider it?

At any rate, we here at DeadSplinter wish LUUUUUUUUUUUUKKKEEE a fun, restful and (hopefully) pain-free retirement. Good on ya for getting out while you can still do the things that truly make life worth living.

About KC Complains A Lot 135 Articles
KC Complains A Lot is another refugee from Deadspin. He enjoys writing and not caving to pressure from herbs.


  1. Yeah, that concussion of his — one of three diagnosed during his career — was scarier than most. I hope he’s able to age without CTE-related symptoms.

    I grew up playing football, but was eventually run over enough to stop playing that sport and concentrate on soccer, where being thin and light wasn’t a handicap.

      • Youth soccer has gotten a bit better by banning heading for younger kids. The goal is partly to reduce head impacts from balls and collisions between players. But the hope is also to teach US kids to learn how to handle air balls at a younger age by trapping, which would then translate to less heading by older kids. US soccer is really weak on handling air balls, and this could improve the US game down the road.

        On the other hand, training for refs and coaches on identifying head injuries is pretty weak. And the insane pressure on winning in youth soccer makes it extremely tempting for sleazy coaches and parents to cover up concussions.

  2. I think the guys with big money contracts can afford to walk away if they were smart with their money. Most guys are on minimum or slightly above money contracts. They need to play as long as possible. Which in turn gives them more health problems.

      • I’m not sure about today’s CBA but historically players are 1099 employees and are/were responsible to all the taxes that goes with Independant Contractor work like paying your own Employment taxes that employers pay for a w-2 worker.

        Plus they have to pay their own insurance, agents, and Entertainment taxes in each jurisdiction they play in. They’d still get a nice net but factor in the city or cities they might live in and they too are living check to check.

        Plus the clubs can game the system and leave that 1st or 2nd year Undrafted FA with only a few game checks even after spending all 17 weeks with the team.

        Players don’t get paid for any game outside the regular season and this includes the playoffs. Playoff money is a lump sum to the entire roster and far below the average weekly check.

  3. We are DINKs and have no plans on children unless we adopt and/or foster in the future. I can’t disagree with any of those that have said they wouldn’t let their kids play football. There are a lot of well known folks in and out of the game that have said they wouldn’t.

    I played from 6th grade through college and made attempts at the post graduate game as well. All told it was about a dozen years in the 80s and 90s and I have the pains and other possible problems but I don’t think I’d trade the experience. I played all the other sports too and I can’t be sure what game caused what pain.

    Head injuries really came front and center in the 00’s and the other sports get a pretty large pass on the head damage they can cause. From soccer to riding a bike there are no ‘safe’ sports. What I have never liked about football is the military overtones that it relies on. Coaches thinking they’re generals and players thinking they’re warriors. [insert Yoda war quote]

    Football specifically changed in the 80s going from a tackle game to a hitting game. Hitting was real hard when the players were not the greatest of athletes and the big bad meanies of the pre-merger game rarely laid the hits. Guys like Butkus and Nitschke didn’t hit you as we see it today. They’d wrap-up and slam you to the gorund or grab and twist your ankle. It was closer to wrestling moves and a possible reason so many old timey footballers were rastlers during and after their playing days. They just didn’t have the skill to leave their feet with their head down and make contact.

    It is the dropping of the head that will tell you the player’s intent. If they hit face up they are making a clean play respecting the opponent and their ability to deek by the defender. If they drop their hat, not so much…I hated to see Clowney not get a flag for his hit on Wentz but to see Bosa get a flag and not be kicked out is a joke.

    The last few seasons, as I ween myself from watching every game, I compare football more and more to boxing. Another sport I played and love but can’t watch it today. I think football will evolve into an 8-man game and move out of the trenches completly and become a pass only game. However, as the data tells us it won’t be any safer until they remove the helmets and pads. We need less hitting and more tackling but that cat is out of the bag…

  4. I watched part of a game this weekend at the house of an ER doctor, and she was carrying a running commentary on which hits she thought might cause concussions. She had a lot of candidates for bad hits.

  5. “The last few seasons, as I ween myself from watching every game, I compare football more and more to boxing. Another sport I played and love but can’t watch it today.”

    I started weaning away from football right around 2012-ish.

    Between watching the Devon Walker game at the bar where I was working at the time, and Junior Seau (a player I’d LOVED to watch, as much as I loathed his team😉) & Jovon Belcher’s terrible endings, I just… can’t reasonably justify true enjoyment (for myself) of watching the game anymore.

    When we’ve seen how shittily so many of the OLD-old guard players were treated, and how often they got used up & tossed out, broken; the fucked-up way the collegiate system still works, with no guarantee of a degree or even hireable skills if a player ends up with a career-ending injury before signing for a paycheck; and the fact that we KNOW what’s happening now, with regards to CTE; I just can’t.

    I started off college my first time around as an athletic training major, and I LOVED football & getting to be around & help the athletes as much as I could (admittedly, not much, as a 1st & 2nd year A.T. student😉). But what made me drop the major was the realization that I couldn’t stomach the fact that *my job* would ALWAYS depend primarily on the injury of someone else.

    That, aside from taping ankles & helping folks stretch, my job wouldn’t *really* get rolling until someone I cared for & about got hurt. And that basically I’d be paid WAITING for them to get hurt, before I could do 80-90% of my job.

    As much as I love sports, it was too morbid for me.

    But that 2012 season, where a promising young football player was paralyzed (thank god, he’s gone on to do really well after the injury & went on to both graduate *and* get his masters!😉😁), and then where there was such a mini-rash of suicides and a dementia death all that year, just clarified to me that watching the game was contributing to the league’s revenues & letting the problems continue.

    Because the League & the owners will always ignore finding a solution, for as long as they can turn a profit off the bodies of these men.

    And there will ALWAYS be poor, young people, who will sign away everything, when offered even the *slightest* chance to escape the situation they grew up in & offer their family a better life–even if they won’t be able to enjoy it themselves. So the league’s allllways going to have a supply of willing participants.

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