Luke Kuechly, one of the finest linebackers of his generation, has announced his retirement at the age of 28.
The Carolina Panthers star made the announcement inside a video posted to the team’s Twitter account. “Now may be the right time for me [retire], ” said a visibly emotional Kuechly, who had to fight tears many times. “It’s a difficult decision. I’ve thought about it a lot and today is the right chance to move on.
“It makes me sad because I love playing this game. I’ve been playing it since I was obviously a little kid and it’s my favorite thing to do. The memories I got from this place and this organization and playing on the field with these guys will never disappear. ”
Kuechly did not provide a specific reason behind his decision in the video, but indicated that injuries meant he was unable to play towards the best of his abilities. Kuechly suffered two serious concussions during his career, the 2nd of which forced him to miss the last six games of the 2016 campaign. He also sat out per week the following season after apparently being concussed during a game with the Philadelphia Eagles. As a whole, he missed seven games due to concussions, although he did not mention brain injuries or head trauma during his retirement video.
A number of his current and former teammates paid tribute to Kuechly on Tuesday night. “I couldn’t be more proud to call you my mate! Congrats on the heck of the career! The overall game will miss you just as much as you miss the game bro! I love you my brother! ” wrote Thomas Davis, who played alongside Kuechly at linebacker for a number of seasons.
Panthers tight end Greg Olsen spoke highly of Kuechly’s character. “Words can’t describe who Luke Kuechly is really as a person, friend and teammate. We have shared countless memories together both on the field and away from it. I feel honored to be his friend and I’ll always appreciate the impact he has had on my entire life. Love you buddy, ” he wrote.
Kuechly was known for his superb football instincts and led the league in tackles this year and 2014. He was voted towards the Pro Bowl in seven of his eight seasons, named an All-Pro five times, and it is all but going to be a person in the Hall of Fame. He was obviously a key section of the Panthers team that reached the Super Bowl within the 2015 season, and it was later revealed he had played through a shoulder injury throughout the team’s playoff run.