Luke Kuechly not ready to talk retirement

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Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly has exited the injury report, which means he’s fully recovered from a concussion suffered on a Thursday night last month. But the team still hasn’t decided to let him play.

“I’m crossing my fingers every week that they’re going to give me the thumbs up to go,” Kuechly told reporters on Wednesday, via It was his first press conference since leaving the field in tears after suffering his latest concussion on November 17 against the Saints. “You appreciate those guys wanting what’s best for you. It’s a thing we’re learning more about. I trust what our doctors have to say. I want to get out there and play. This most recent time, just like the last time, everyone said you’re good to go.”

The last time, Week One of the 2015 season, Kuechly missed a month before returning. Though he was fine after that, each additional concussion raises the concern that the consequences will multiply — and eventually clearance to return will becoming impossible to secure.

Which puts retirement on the table, eventually. But Kuechly doesn’t want to discuss that.

“I’m holding off that retirement word for a little ways down the road,” Kuechly said, adding that he’s not worried about the long-term health consequences of multiple concussions. “It’s something you appreciate everybody concerned with how you’re doing, but whenever my opportunity comes back I’ll be back out there.”

The Panthers are surely balancing the benefits of Kuechly playing in a pair of likely meaningless games against the risk that he’ll suffer yet another concussion — and the reality that each concussion arguably puts him one concussion closer to his last one. If, as a practical matter, there’s a lifetime limit on concussions, why take the chance of getting another one in a season that is likely going nowhere?

38 responses to “Luke Kuechly not ready to talk retirement

  1. If Rivera shelves him for the year and demonstrates to the league that he puts players above record, he gets my vote for Coach of the Year. And I’m a diehard Seahawks fan since ’89.

  2. Very good point. Why risk another concussion if eventually it will be one too many, and the team isn’t going anywhere this season anyway. His passion for the game is certainly admirable.

  3. He can’t continue to sustain concussions at the rate he has without creating long term health consequences. Think of the big picture Luke. Remember how Chargers LB Jr. Seau suffered in the latter years of his life?

  4. The fact that it takes Kuechly a month to be cleared when many other players are back in 1-2 weeks is a concern. He plays fast, which increases his exposure to higher-speed collisions. The next big head-hit could IR him for a season. After that, who knows?

  5. Scary thing to me is it didn’t even look like a big hit and he went down like that. I hope he comes back but I can’t blame him if he decided to hang the cleats up.

  6. FlashPatterson says:
    Dec 21, 2016 8:13 PM
    Psh whatever… you get at least 5 free concussions before you have to start worrying. Wes Welker played for like 5 years with pudding in his skull.

    Boy I hope this was sarcasm. Have you ever heard Wes Welker talk?

  7. I certainly don’t think the Panthers should play him at all the final 2 games. Ron Rivera made the right call sitting him against Washington. I would feel the same way if the Panthers were in the playoff race. I watched the full presser (I’m a die hard Panthers fan) and I almost felt sorry for him. Here’s a guy that loves football, has a clear addiction to the game, and defiantly dismisses any negatives that any reporter had to say about CTE. I hope Luke gets well over the off-season and I hope he’s back to playing next year at a high level. I almost feel like he’s the new Dan Morgan, another elite MLB who suffered from multiple concussions. I am glad that we are more aware of the effects of CTE and I’m hopeful for Luke’s long term health. From everything I’ve seen and hear he’s a stand up guy. Get well, man!

  8. Sucks. He might be the most likable player in the league. If not retire, can’t his helmet be outfitted with the mark kelso shell?

  9. Hopefully somebody he trust’s reads back to him saying he isn’t concerned about his long term health.
    Nobody knows what the right answer is about playing football anymore, but getting joy out of it gets slightly more difficult as more information becomes available.

  10. Everyone keeps talking about players from years past and the conditions they are suffering/suffered in their later life.

    In years past players played concussed. There was no concussion protocal until 2013 (I believe). If you could practice you could play back then, and in some cases were made/expected to play no matter what.

    I am not making lite of a concussion but being out and healing is a HUGE improvement from how things were years ago. I am not saying there is no risk, but not playing or even practicing until you have passed certain bench marks does make a difference.

  11. The guy’s an adult, he’s under contract, and he wants to play (and he’s been cleared). If you dont want to play him then IR him already, or cut him. This is getting ridiculous with this concussion stuff. Guys are going to KEEP getting concussions as long as the NFL KEEPS existing. Lets move on already. If you dont want to get concussed than dont play football….duh.

  12. osiris33 (bandwagon since 1976) says:
    Dec 21, 2016 8:07 PM
    But he’s still in the crying protocol, right?

    I hope you never have to experience what kuechly did because obvioiusly you never have, tough guy.

  13. Somebody needs to smack some sense into these players…is it really worth it all in the end? Of course having millions of dollars is nice, but don’t you want to still be able to form and speak in complete, coherent sentences when you’re 50?

  14. “How are safer helmets not avail. yet? Bigger softer with more cushion inside??”
    Regardless of the helmet, when the head is hit hard and stops moving quickly, the brain inside keeps moving and slams into the interior of the skull. To put it another way, regardless of how strong Tony Starks Iron Man suit is, if he took the same hits in real life as in the movie, his organs would turn to mush.

  15. He’s only 25 years old. If he retires now he’ll just be quitting on his team and letting everyone down. He’s paid to play football, not paid to worry about his brain 30 years from now.

  16. Story on the news today about kids and concussions. A study concluded that depending on the severity of the concussion, light activity helps with recovery but otherwise (and this is key) it takes at least 3 months to get over the after effects of a concussion. The reasoning lines up with boxing guidelines pertaining to fighting after a concussion ..

    Makes me wonder if the NFL concussion protocol has any value.

    My point is the NFL tries to get players back on the field as soon as possible. Kuechly can’t be in a good place if this type of ambivalence exist.

  17. Please take your time. Great player, but playing linebacker in the
    NFL is perhaos the most hazardous position. I hope he gets it right.

  18. walking CTE case waiting to happen ..and then everyone will blame the league as usual

  19. osiris33 (bandwagon since 1976) says:
    Dec 21, 2016 8:07 PM
    But he’s still in the crying protocol, right?

    I have a feeling you think you are tougher than Luke kuechly. Thanks for the laugh.

  20. carloswlassiter says:
    Dec 21, 2016 8:34 PM
    Carolina is still alive for a playoff birth if the Redskins end up in a tie with someone. At least that’s what Gruden told us 389 times on Monday night.

    Chuckled as I sip my coffee this morning! Good one! lol

  21. Young and dumb. He should not risk his health for the future over meaningless football games. The game of life is a lot more important than football. The Panthers organization is a mess but they are wise in not playing Kuechly. They made a mistake with Dan Morgan and you see what happened to him and Kuechly is going down the same road. One more concussion and he should retire permanently. Period.

  22. If Rivera shelves him for the year and demonstrates to the league that he puts players above record, he gets my vote for Coach of the Year. And I’m a diehard Seahawks fan since ’89.

    Coach of the Year? Ok that’s silly but you’re a Seattle fan so perhaps you’re high as a kite.

  23. golforepar says:
    Dec 21, 2016 8:21 PM
    How are safer helmets not avail. yet? Bigger softer with more cushion inside??

    Safer helmets will never be available.

    No helmet can or will ever protect against the brain being thrashed about inside the skull.

  24. osiris33 (bandwagon since 1976) says:
    Dec 21, 2016 8:07 PM
    But he’s still in the crying protocol, right?
    I’ve seen you make this comment twice now in response to different articles. Get a life.

  25. His love for life should out weigh his love for the game. He should think of his future, but if he likes blubbering like a baby and not knowing his own name, I say PLAY ON!

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