Luke Keuchly retires

Zoe Evans , News Editor

Beloved Carolina Panthers All- Pro linebacker Luke Kuechly announces an abrupt retirement at the age of 28. Kuechly has played for the National Football League (NFL) team for eight seasons. The tackling machine has been the face of the Panthers defensive lineup for years and is arguably one of the best players to wear a black and blue uniform for the team. 

Kuechly was drafted as the No. 9 pick in the 2012 NFL draft straight out of Boston College. He made it to seven pro bowls and was named an All-Pro five times. In 2012, he was named Defensive Rookie of the Year and in 2013 he was named Defensive Player of the Year. Both are astounding titles in football. During the 2015 season, Kuechly’s instrumental role in the defensive lineup helped take the team to the Super Bowl. 

“Beyond his extraordinary performance on the field, Luke has had a tremendous impact on this organization and region,”said owner of the Carolina Panthers David Tepper. “In my two seasons with Luke, I quickly recognized how special of a person he is. The respect he gives and garners from others as well as the positive impact he has on his peers is second to none. It’s obviously going to be very difficult for all of us because we know that no player can replace what he’s been for this organization for the last eight years. His presence can’t be replicated.”

Keuchly is calling it after 1,092 tackles. That is the most in NFL history. He has a total of 18 interceptions, which is the most by any linebacker since 2012, and third in franchise history. 

Keuchly was seen holding back tears in his announcement on Jan. 14. Although he did not explain in his social media post why he cannot continue to play the sport he loves the most, it is known that from 2015-2017 he has had three concussions from football related impacts. In total, he missed seven games due to the injuries. 

“There’s only one way to play this game since I was a little kid – is to play fast, play physical and play strong,” Keuchly continued. “At this point I don’t know if I am able to do that anymore. And that’s the part that’s the most difficult.” 

Keuchly’s announcement is the third elite NFL player to retire before 30 within a year. Last year, three time super bowl champion Rob Gronkowski, who played for the New England Patriots, announced his retirement at the age of 29. Many players are becoming more aware of the dangers of getting too many injuries. In August, Gronkowski was seen crying as he discussed how injuries had taken away the joy he had in life.

Running back Christian McCaffery commented on Kuechly’s retirement. 

“Thank you for some of the best memories both on and off the field,” McCaffrey said. “I’m so honored to have shared the field with not just the best player I’ve ever seen, but the best person I’ve ever met. Will always love you bro! To retirement.”

It is evident that Panther Nation will miss Keuchly.