Colts’ Andrew Luck explains, reflects on decision to retire from NFL: ‘Not the healthiest way to live’

By | December 7, 2022

Andrew Luck has largely remained out of the public eye since his shocking decision to retire at age 29 just before the 2019 NFL season.

Now, the former Colts quarterback is explaining exactly what led him to leave the game the game that he loved during his prime.

Luck told ESPN’s Seth Wickersham in a rare interview that he didn’t just retire due to the physical toll the game took on him. It also was related to the emotional weight of being the proverbial franchise quarterback.

“To play quarterback, you’re not allowed to worry about anything except the task at hand,” Luck explained. “And that seeps into other areas of life. It’s not the healthiest way to live.”

MORE: The interesting link between Andrew Luck and Carson Wentz

What did Luck mean by that? He developed almost a monomaniacal obsession with becoming the best quarterback that he could. In doing so, he put a strain on his personal life and had something of an identity crisis.

As Wickersham explained, “Luck’s most natural version of himself was to be one of the guys.” He wasn’t able to do that as much at the NFL level given his leadership expectations as a top quarterback.

As such, he felt pressure to take on a new persona to effectively serve in that role.

Luck didn’t like that part of his personality he had to tap in to create this. That said, he felt like he had no choice but to use it. It was the best way, in his mind, to establish himself as a leader in the room.

How did that personality change impact Luck? He realizes now that too much of his identity was tied to being a quarterback.

“A lot. A lot. A LOT,” Luck said when asked how much he self-identified as a quarterback. “And I didn’t realize that until after the fact.”

MORE: Andrew Luck makes a rare public appearance at Alabama-Georgia game

Luck’s self-identification as a quarterback put extra pressure on him to be perfect — to control everything about the environment around him. That worked on the field, as he was able to turn into one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks.

However, Luck struggled personally to manage that pressure as he fought through injuries. Wickersham explained that Luck fell victim to his “worse impulses,” which included feeling guilty about being unable to play while trying to remain stone-faced through his emotional turmoil. This led to issues with his self-worth off the field.

Eventually, he was able to open up about those problems and concerns. That allowed him to better connect with his partner, Nicole, and realize that he was more than just a quarterback.

MORE: Where is Andrew Luck? Former Colts QB back at his alma mater, Stanford

Still, his bad impulses returned as he battled an ankle injury before the 2019 NFL season. But this time, he came to the realization that he had reasons to walk away if he decided to call it quits, as detailed by Wickersham:

He was not just a quarterback. In the offseason he and Nicole had married, and she was pregnant with Lucy. He had responsibilities and promises beyond himself and the Colts. He was coming close to saying out loud what he had disclosed only to Nicole and a few others: that he wasn’t sure he wanted to do this anymore. Not could. Wanted. He had proved that he could play at a high level. He had received plenty of praise and criticism, enough to know that neither of those things matters.

So, to preserve not only his physical health but his mental health too, Luck decided to retire.

And while the decision may have been a shock to the NFL world, it was one that Luck had been mulling for a long time.