Press Box: Why we shouldn’t judge Andrew Luck

Illustration by Lindsay Hart

Jaron Nutter, Contributing Writer

When Andrew Luck announced his retirement from the NFL on Aug. 24, the backlash from fans and sports media was immediate. The 29-year-old decided to call it quits due to the grueling process of injuries and rehab. 

His own fans booed him as he walked off the field for the final time. Many journalists, such as Doug Gottlieb of Fox Sports, ridiculed Luck for his abrupt decision.

On Twitter, Gottlieb posted, “Retiring cause rehabbing is ‘too hard’ is the most millennial thing ever #AndrewLuck.”

The tweet garnered more than 1,000 retweets and more than 10,000 likes. It also started a firestorm on Twitter, with debates on whether Luck’s retirement was warranted. Former NFL quarterback Troy Aikman came to Luck’s defense and counter Gottlieb’s insensitive tweet.

“That’s total bullshit Doug. What qualifies you to decide how someone should live their life? So you’re now the authority on what motivates Andrew Luck? And if his decisions don’t fit into what you think is best for him then you rip him? Guess that keeps you employed on FS1. Nice,” Aikman tweeted.

I agree with Aikman that fans and media shouldn’t judge or blame Andrew Luck if they happen to disagree with his decision. The fact is, the only people who know what Luck has been through are Luck himself and the Indianapolis Colts. We don’t know the background of his rehab or the details of his injuries. 

More often than not, the people disrespecting Andrew Luck for his decision have never been through the injury and rehabbing process he’s had to go through in his career. It is insensitive and rude to judge and form opinions about something you’ve never experienced. 

Other NFL legends such as Barry Sanders and Calvin Johnson also retired early. Sanders retired from the NFL at 31 years old in 1999. Although fans were outraged, Sanders did not endure the backlash from the sports media Luck has received. Another iconic NFL player, Calvin Johnson, retired at 30 years old in 2016. Johnson, like Sanders, ironically played for the Lions. According to the Detroit Free Press, Johnson’s reason for ending his career was simply that he lost his love for the game. 

“I know everybody wants to know why I retired, but it’s more so, I put a lot into the game and it’s taken a lot out of me and that’s where I’m at right now,” Johnson said. “I’m not going to get into the specifics of the things that I feel it’s taken away, but it definitely feels good, I guess I can say for myself, to spend more time around the family, my son, I just got married. So things are going good right now.”

Fans and sports media were also shocked by Johnson’s decision, but he didn’t receive anything close to the amount of hate that Luck did when he made his decision. It’s unfair to bash Luck for his retirement when other players in similar positions are not treated the same way.

Luck’s decision to retire was shocking but understandable. I have never gone through the things Luck has experienced in his career, so I shouldn’t judge him for his decision. Fans and sports media need to understand athletes are people too. Whatever they decide to do with their careers should be up to them, and we shouldn’t make them feel bad for doing what they believe is best for themselves, even though it is sad to see another promising and talented player call it quits so early yet again.

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