n case you were under a rock or still hungover from Parkville days the last week, Andrew Luck, the NFL quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts, and the number one pick in the 2012 draft, retired suddenly after seven years in the NFL.
A seven year career for a number one draft pick is, to say the least, short. And his reasoning for doing so has raised all kinds of controversy. His reason to walk away from the game is that his body had simply broken down and the cycle of pain had just gotten to be too much. (He injured his ankle in a playoff game against the Chiefs last winter.) What is not in dispute is that the NFL takes a terrible toll (plus his long career in college at Stanford.) And Luck’s career has had more injuries than most.
What is in dispute is his walking away because he lost the joy in his job. It got too hard to rehab only to get injured and rehab again. In the seven years as a QB, he earned multi-millions of dollars and, Indy fans will tell you, “quit” on his team – all of whom face the same pummeling and pain as Luck every Sunday.
Jimmy Bob, Billy Joe, and Gumpy Sam along with the rest of “I played football in high school” Twitter, spent the weekend chastising Luck’s decision, calling him a quitter, and weak. I would bet all of Luck’s millions that if I walked up to any of these knee-jerk fans and offered them five million dollars with the only caveat was that they had to quit their job tomorrow, 100% of them would take the deal.
Professional players aren’t owned by the fans. They are certainly supported by fans, they’re paid thanks to fans paying for tickets and jerseys, and they are affected when fans boo or cheer. But that is not a contract for any player to do anything other than do what their contract requires.
For Luck, a decade of pain, rehab, and fame resulted in a decision to take his Stanford degree, his millions of dollars, his wife and family, and walk away to travel the world, clear his head, and hit the restart button on his life.
I’d do it. You’d do it. Even the most critical fan would do it. In a heartbeat. What you’re seeing when you see the video of fans booing Luck walking off the field isn’t anger and it’s not misguided passion, it’s jealousy. We’re jealous that he has the means and the clarity to walk away from his job before it cripples him.
For those of us who sit at a desk, or run a backhoe, or clear out backed up pipes – any of us with a day to day job – would give it up to live our “best” life. That’s not to say our jobs are bad or that we’re even unhappy at our jobs. It simply means that when you close your eyes and make a wish for a perfect life – Andrew Luck is about to live what he sees. And to hell with whatever controversy or legacy that tarnishes. When you buy a lottery ticket, and, just for a nano-second, you think about what you’d do if you won, Luck is cashing in his ticket.
Luck owes nobody anything and I wish him the best of… well, luck.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to get a good night’s sleep before I go back to work in the morning. But maybe I’ll stop in and buy a lottery ticket first.
(Catch Chris Kamler on Twitter where he is known as @TheFakeNed or track him down on Facebook, Snapchat and YouTube, where you can search Rambling Morons and find his interesting videos)