Luke Kuechly announces retirement

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The Panthers have had a good week . . . until Tuesday night. That’s when Pro Bowl linebacker Luke Kuechly announced his retirement.

“I think now is the right chance for me to move on,” Kuechly said, via Max Henson of the team website. “It makes me sad because I love playing this game, I’ve played it since I was a kid. It’s my favorite thing in the world to do. The memories I have from this place and this organization and being on the field with these guys – they’ll never go away.

“In my heart I know it’s the right thing to do. There’s only one way to play this game since I was a little kid – play fast, play physical and play strong. And at this point I don’t know if I am able to do that anymore.”

New coach Matt Rhule will not have one of the greatest players in franchise history to build around on his defense.

Kuechly, 28, played eight NFL seasons and made seven Pro Bowls and five first-team AP All-Pro nods.

He also was defensive player of the year in 2013 and defensive rookie of the year in 2012.

“Beyond his extraordinary performance on the field, Luke has had a tremendous impact on this organization and region,” owner David Tepper said. “In my two seasons with Luke, I quickly recognized how special of a person he is. The respect he gives and garners from others as well as the positive impact he has on his peers is second to none. It’s obviously going to be very difficult for all of us because we know that no player can replace what he’s been for this organization for the last eight years. His presence can’t be replicated.”

Kuechly made 1,092 tackles, the most in the NFL since he entered the league. His 18 interceptions are most by a linebacker since 2012 and third-most in franchise history. His 75 tackles for loss are tied for fifth among linebackers over that span.

107 responses to “Luke Kuechly announces retirement

  1. What a sad day for football. Kuechly has had such bad luck with concussions, you can’t help but understand his decision. Walk away while you still can and while you can still live a ‘normal’ life. Loved watching him play. NFL is going to miss him.

  2. great career, but suffered the injury bug. Was #1a or #1b throughout his career. Hats off to him.

  3. CTE is the worst thing to ever happen to the NFL and the worst part is, there isn’t a solution. This is never going away and more and more players are going to take the route Kuechly and Luck took, walking away in their prime. Sad day for the sport. Enjoy a long, healthy life after football, Luke.

  4. A sad day indeed to the see arguably the most instinctive backer hang up his cleats. Eight seasons: accomplished so much yet it feels so early.
    Best wishes, Luke. All time great.

  5. Among his many talents, he had a knack for being able to predict the offense’s plays before the snap. Literally the quintessential QB of the defense. I will miss watching him on Sundays.

  6. Luke hasn’t missed any games the past 2 seasons with any concussion related issues. Prior to that he went into the protocol 3 years in a row. I always assumed he’d retire at 30. I was off by 2 years.

    Based on his statement on Twitter I think he doesn’t want take on the risk anymore. I can’t blame him. It’s been fun watching the past 8 years. I wish him well.

  7. Wow, stunning. Understandable, but stunning. Prototypical ILB and pure building block type of player for a franchise. Sad day for the NFL, indeed, but obviously wish he and his family the best. The game will miss him!

  8. Unfortunately this violent sport took its toll on one of its greatest players. So physcial, so spirited and just a joy to sit back and watch play. Many props to you Mr. Kuechly.

  9. I can’t blame him at all. He played with great distinction, but he’s had enough concussions.

  10. Steeler fan here. Luke was fun lb to watch and a damned good one on the field. Football takes a lot out of you and your family. Good look Luke.

  11. Much respect for Luke Kuechly! A great player. He made the Panthers a better franchise. He will be missed greatly. Good luck in your next vocation Luke.

  12. Great player who was always hurt. I wish him the very best in retirement and hope that he has no lingering affects from his days in the NFL. — Packers fan

  13. The guy is a stud and has proven it. To mock him over retiring is just wrong. Good on him for considering the rest of his life beyond football which he clearly loves…

  14. He was a great linebacker his whole career, and when he wasn’t dealing with injury one of the best.I enjoyed watching him play, but he needs to do what makes him happy, and I think players, are learning more about life after football, and even though he worded it wierdly, Lynch had some wisdom to share.

    Looking back at some of the top 9 players selected that year is WILD though, you have Luck retiring before the season… Blackmon never doing much Richardson fizzling out… RG3 injured his career but had a chance to be playing in an AFC title game this weekend, and Ryan Tannehill whom is going to be starting one.

  15. us nfc south fans know that kuechy hasnt been the same player he used to be for several years. very similar story to his panthers predecessor dan morgan

  16. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting & talking to Luke on several occasions….very down to earth fellow & a great person. Good luck with your future plans & enjoy your retirement…

  17. tm05 says:
    January 14, 2020 at 8:58 pm
    could possibly get some HOF consideration despite the short career.

    20 1 Rate This

    Well considering there are worse players than him in the Hall already I’d say it’s a safe bet. 7 time Pro Bowler, 7 time All Pro, Defensive Rookie of the Year, Defensive player of the Year, AND he led the league in tackles more than once? I can properly say this as a Bucs fan who hated having to play against such a beast more than once a year but he is a surefire lock for Canton.

  18. Damn! Helluva player. Instinctive, could cover too. I thought he might hang it up at 30 based on his concussion history but not this.

  19. This news hit me like a TON OF BRICKS!!! I’m sadden!! Luke gave it ALL he had on the field!! Even when the team was in shambles this past season, Luke NEVER GAVE UP!!! He played hard!! Man he’ll be missed………..

  20. A relatively short career for such a great player, but Kuechly is a future HOFer. He strikes me as a guy who’s likely going to struggle mightily dealing with some of the psychological challenges of transitioning away from being a football player, but an not even he has lots of time to figure it out.

  21. Wasn’t a Panthers fan but this guy was fun to watch. He played with passion and always gave 100%. It was sad to see the tolls injuries took on the guy but I think he made a good decision in regards to his over-all health. I will miss watching this guy.

  22. He will be missed. A great player to watch, and a good role model. Much respect to Luke K.
    – SKOL Nation

  23. Got to respect a player who walks away with gas in the tank, because it can’t be easy to leave when you know you can still play at this level.

  24. I’ve always had great respect and enjoyment for the way he played the game, one of the very best in football at his position. Always wished my team could somehow get him. And it sounds like he is a good guy off the field as well.

    Best of luck with life after football Luke!

    Pats fan.

  25. I was always hoping the Chiefs would draft him out of college so I followed his career and watched how much he was a professional on and off the field. Better to call it a career one year early rather than a year late

  26. Luke Kuechly was an elite MLB. one of the best in the NFL. He dominated in his short time in the NFL. Him an Patrick Willis were absolute studs. I would put them in HoF despite short careers.

  27. The comments are interesting ..I quote “ great career but suffers the injury bug” …” bad luck with concussions “.
    Luke was a great player with great class. However it is interesting how fans honor him him yet
    criticize other players for being injury prone. I saw the linebackers of the decade which included
    Navarro Bowman who played 5 years. Kuehley is done after 8.
    Yet fans criticize other players like Sean Lee for his injury history.He finished his 10th year and has
    constantly fought back.He has suffered injury, most due to friendly fire ..teammates caused his injuries.,
    Is that his fault ? Is Kuehley weak? The answer is no …but fans don’t care.
    So do you honor Bowman and Keuley? Yes you do, Do up you respect Luck who was worn down by the
    injuries and rehab?
    Fans need to understand how hard it is to keep healthy and they need to respect players who fight back
    from injuries. Fans need to understand how alone a player is when he is doing his rehab by himself for
    days and hours .
    Yet fans call players “ soft “ and “ weak “ ……fans have no idea …or sense of reality.
    We need to honor players like Kuehley he is first class.

  28. Mad respect for him!!! I know Drew is happy for this day!! Lol!! Dude knew our plays before we ran them. Hall of Famer for sure!!

  29. Glad he retired; I hope he did it soon enough. That’s a LOT of concussions. The neurologist I went to after I was severely concussed said they are WORSE than cumulative; structures in the brain become more brittle each time they are damaged, thus more likely to be damaged, and more severely. Anyway, best of luck to him going forward and I’m not a praying man but I will be rooting hard for him to have a normal life going forward as he ages.

  30. If Davis, Swann and Sayers are in, he’s in.

    Sayers is somewhere between 2 through 7 RB wise, depending on who’s ranking. Just a short career. That #1 RB, hung them up early too. Same can be said of Kuechly. LT is the best ever (different position, I suppose). But Kuechly can be tied for 2nd through 7 or maybe Butkus was the best in the middle. There are others. He’s with them.

    FIVE All Pros . Look up how many HOF’rs had that. Especially percentage wise. First year you never get it anyway. He probably deserves 6.

    What Parcells said: This generation, Kuechly’s name has to mentioned, if you’re talking D.

    Enjoy amigo.

  31. Remember watching the draft when he was chosen and being jealous the Panthers got him. Feels like yesterday. Eight years.

    Good for him, though. Seems like a decent guy, gets to spend the rest of his life pursuing whatever he wants and spending time with his family and friends. Most people’s dream.

  32. HoFer in my book. I don’t need fifteen or even ten years out of a guy. Just be one of the best at your position in your era for long enough that we know you’re not a flash in the pan. How many seasons did Gale Sayers or Terrell Davis play?

  33. That image of him crying as he was being wheeled off the field after sustaining a concussion will always be the lasting image I have of him

  34. Happiness is underrated. Hopefully Luke will find it.
    Until science figures out a way to change the consistency of the fluid surrounding the brain to prevent it from crashing into the skull, these sad events will continue.

  35. good luck luke and enjoy retirement. he still wants to be around the game and i bet hed make a helluva good linebacker coach. so maybe coaching is next for luke.

  36. Sad but understandable, after all it is just a game and his health comes first. Hopefully he will have happy, healthy and productive life in retirement. I’ll miss watching Kuechly like I miss Patrick Willis. Two of the greatest middle linebackers of the 21st century.

  37. Sad to see him go, and someone will take his place. The lure of the money is too hard to resist, if you have the opportunity.

    The NFL is really doing itself and the players a good thing by making CTE a priority issue. It seems that players are more aware and taking it more seriously than ever before.

  38. First Patrick Willis, now Luke Kuechly. Some of this generations great middle linebackers are hanging up the cleats while they were still performing at a high level. I applaud these men for knowing its better to step away a little too early rather than a little too late. Willis has made a good career after the NFL. I am sure Luke will do the same.

  39. As a life long Saints fan, you scared me every Sunday Luke. You are a bad man on the field and are the only thing I like and respect in the NFC South other than my boys. Dealing with head injuries myself, good luck buddy, it’s just a game, now enjoy life!

  40. could possibly get some HOF consideration despite the short career.
    The consideration he will get will be election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2025. A remarkable football player and a terrific kid. Wishing him all happiness and success moving forward and a long healthy life.

  41. Luke…if you still want to be around the game, I’m sure your former defensive coordinator, Sean McDermott, would love to bring you on to his staff in Buffalo to coach these newer LBs we have such as Trmaine Edmunds and Matt Milano. Just saying.

  42. What a great ambassador for football, his team and city he’s been. I’ll miss seeing him play LB with such ability, power and intelligence but, if he were my son, I’d tell him to leave while he’s still able.Thanks for the memories.God bless and keep you.


  43. Great player. I remember him getting concussed on National TV and crying. The audience was confused. At the time no one understood that crying was a common effect of getting a concussion. Good luck in the future Luke!

  44. Luke has the rare gift of incredible field vision. As others have noted, he has the innate ability to know where the ball will be, combined the physical talent to make the play. An absolute joy to watch play the game.

  45. A once in a generation player. I’m still in shock! Mixed feelings about this announcement. Too many huge changes with the Panthers this year. Trying to be optimistic. Really gonna miss my favorite player not being on the field. He’s a smart kid, tho, and he knows what he’s doing. I wish him all the best in the future! (Maybe coaching?!) Keep Pounding, Luke! On the bright side, he’ll walk into the Hall of Fame in 5 years!

  46. Being a fan, there are a lot of players that we ‘hate’ but if they were on our team we’d love ’em.

    I never ‘hated’ Mr. Kuechly, respected his game, and always wished he was on my team.

    Enjoy retirement.

  47. Career of everybody but QBs may shorten to where 5 years may become the line of demarcation. The human body is not designed to survive 5-10 car collisions every Sunday. The impacts take an enormous toll on quality of life-later.

    Players are smart to cash in and get out as soon as they can. Better to walk off now, than to be carried off later.

  48. Ilostmyteamtogreedandsettledforbetter says:
    January 14, 2020 at 8:53 pm
    Matt Rhule just crapped his pants…..
    At least they won’t be going into the season counting on him,
    now they know the have a hole they need to fill.

  49. Always thought he should have retired a few years back after that string of consecutive concussions, for his future’s health sake. Great player, hopefully he enjoys a long healthy retirement.

  50. As a 49er fan who saw Patrick Willis retire around the same age, sorry for your loss panther fans! :/ Tough for a new coach to start this way. I think Matt Rhule will be a lot better than Jim Tomsula tho lol. And you didn’t also lose three other all-pros (Justin Smith, Anthony Davis, and Aldon Smith) in the same off season. But still! Wish you guys the best. Big fan of Tepper and how he’s building the team. Rooting for you

  51. Next stop for Luke should be Canton! As for what is next in his career, a coaching staff position with Carolina or Washington, or a college team (Boston College)?

  52. New HC and maybe a new system to learn i don’t blame him. Hopefully it isn’t too late for him with all the head trauma.

  53. I watched his press conference announcing retirement and he looked scared man. I think the concussions are already affecting him, sad.

  54. Love watching football but also realize that it is dangerous and I hope that he goes on to a successful and healthy 2nd life after football. all the money in the world is useless if the machine between your ears is all fouled up or you can no longer walk without pain.

  55. “could possibly get some HOF consideration despite the short career.”

    Absolutely. I’ll go as far to say that he WILL eventually get in. Shorter careers are going to become the norm meaning he is going to become a stronger candidate as time goes by. If nothing else he’ll get in years from now a senior finalist due to the fact people are going to remember him.

  56. @jluckow says:
    January 15, 2020 at 8:37 am
    As a 49er fan who saw Patrick Willis retire around the same age, sorry for your loss panther fans! :/ Tough for a new coach to start this way. I think Matt Rhule will be a lot better than Jim Tomsula tho lol. And you didn’t also lose three other all-pros (Justin Smith, Anthony Davis, and Aldon Smith) in the same off season. But still! Wish you guys the best. Big fan of Tepper and how he’s building the team. Rooting for you
    Aldon Smith? Really?

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