The Carolina Panthers selected Luke Kuechly with the 9th overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft and it didn’t take the Cincinnati, Ohio native very long to become a fan favourite among the Panthers faithful.
After playing every single game in his first three NFL seasons, Kuechly missed a combined 10 games from 2015-2017, but seemed to bounce back nicely as he played all 16 games in 2018 and 2019.
However, the 28-year-old shocked Panthers fans and the entire NFL community by announcing his retirement on the team’s social media accounts.
Kuechly made it clear right off the top that his decision has nothing to do with the change in personnel and that it’s strictly based on his body and what he brings to the table on game day. Around the 1:42 mark of the video he started choking up a little bit as he explained why he’s calling it a career.
“For me, now is the right opportunity to move in a different direction and there’s only one way to play this game since I was a little kid, is to play fast and play physical and play strong, and at this point I don’t know if I’m able to do that anymore and that’s the part that is the most difficult…
I still want to play, but I don’t think it’s the right decision.
I thought about it for a long time and I think now is the opportunity for me to step away with...with what’s going on here.”
Kuechly won the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2012 and also led the league in tackles as a rookie, and he won the NFL Defensive Player of the Year award the following season.