Carolina Panthers: Luke Kuechly unexpectedly retires from football

Carolina Panthers

In a busy week for sports news, one of the best players in all of the NFL called it quits at the age of 28.

The Carolina Panthers had a season where their long-time head coach was fired midseason. Their star QB was injured, and his replacements ranged from all right to downright awful. The team looked like it was absolutely doing to get the 6-seed in the NFC Playoffs come Week 8. It ended the season 5-11 and in last place in the NFC South.

Well, if things couldn’t get worse for the Panthers and their fans, they just learned their best player on defense is going to retire. The Panthers shared a video on Tuesday night that will no doubt break a lot of hearts when it becomes clear that Luke Kuechly retired.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to have the opportunity play this game since I was in fourth grade and I’ve been with the Panthers for eight years. It’s never the right time to step away but now is the right time for me.” — Luke Kuechly

Wasting no time, the 28-year-old linebacker decided now is the right time to say goodbye to the game he loves. Just a few months after Andrew Luck left millions of dollars on the table, Kuechley will do the same thing. He was scheduled to make over $10 million in 2020 and 2021.

The Panthers just hired a new head coach in Matt Rhule, who Kuechly specifically said has nothing to do with his decision to walk away. He says that he wants to play still, but he just doesn’t think that is the right decision.

Whenever a football player retires when he’s still in the prime of his career, we immediately look at head injuries. He’s had three documented concussions since 2015, including a grade three concussion in 2016, where he was carted off the field and clearly was not right.

The reason for this decision may come out in the coming days or weeks. Either way, another fabulous football player is calling it quits while he still has something left in the tank. He’s a five-time first-team All Pro, a seven-time Pro Bowler in eight seasons and a former Rookie of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year. We can argue about his Hall of Fame candidacy at a later date, but he definitely has a case.

Kuechly leaves the Panthers in an even bigger rebuild than previously thought. It just adds another major hole into a lineup full of questions for Rhule.

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