At 8:30pm on Tuesday, Jan 14th 2020, Carolina Panthers All-Pro Linebacker Luke Kuechly
shocked everyone and retired at just twenty eight years old. Luke was a staple of Carolina
defense ever since he was drafted as the ninth overall pick in 2012, Kuechly knew where
everyone needed to be lined up and knew exactly where the ball was going or who was
getting it I’d say 97% of the time.
There are many reasons why this decision came to be, so early it seems, Kuechly
experienced alot of concussions and head trauma throughout his career. The first of 3
concessions came in week one of the 2015 season against Jacksonville, that injury however
only forced him to miss one game. Luke then had 2 more serious concussions one came in
2016 where he missed 6 games and the other that happened in 2017 against the Eagles,
although he didn’t miss any games after.
Luke finished his career with in my opinion a Hall of Fame worthy statline:
75 Tackles for loss
66 Pass deflections
7 Forced fumbles
9 Fumble recoveries
31 QB hits
Luke also racked up a great number of accolades:
5x First Team All-Pro
2x 2nd Team All-Pro
2012 AP Defensive Rookie of the Year
2013 AP Defensive Player of the Year
2015 NFC Championship Ring
Kuechly will be the “poster child” for concussions in the league now and how they can force
you into early retirement, Luke suffered 3 from 2015-2017 missing only 7 games but still the
brain trauma that is caused, forced him to step away from the game he loves and still
wanted to play.
“There’s only one way to play this game since I was a little kid — play fast, play physical and play strong,” Kuechly said. “And at this point I don’t know if I am able to do that anymore.
That’s the part that is the most difficult.”
It’s heartbreaking but realistic, it was the right decision for Luke to step away. I know the
Panthers will have a plan moving forward, we all just have to trust the process and have faith
in David Tepper, Marty Hurney, and Matt Rhule.
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