Andrew Luck Did Not Consider Resuming Playing Career

Andrew Luck returned to Indianapolis on Friday, nearly five years after he shocked the football world by announcing his retirement at the age of 29. As Joel A. Erickson of the Indianapolis Star writes, Luck was in town for the 12th annual Chuckstrong Tailgate Gala, a fundraising event for cancer research held by former Colts head coach Chuck Pagano (Luck’s first HC as a pro).

Since Luck left the league, his name has naturally popped up now and again on PFR pages. Even after the first two seasons of the post-Luck era were in the books, Colts owner Jim Irsay was still holding out hope that the No. 1 overall pick of the 2012 draft would return, and the Commanders briefly discussed a Luck pursuit in the 2022 offseason (a discussion which led to a brief tampering controversy, as Indianapolis still controls Luck’s rights).

All of those reports have suggested that Luck did not waver in his retirement decision. Then-HC Frank Reich said in 2020 that he did not expect Luck to return to the field, and longtime Colts receiver T.Y. Hilton said in 2021 that his former teammate was having “the time of his life” in retirement.

And, during this past Friday’s fundraiser, we heard straight from the (former) horse’s mouth that Luck never felt the urge to unretire and resume his playing career.

“When I retired, that part of it was put to bed in my mind in a very simple, sort of direct way,” Luck said. “There were a lot of complications around it, you know, certainly tormented inside, as you guys saw that night, but I think that part of it has stayed.”

The “torment” he references — which was evident in his press conference announcing his retirement — stemmed from the fact that he still loved the sport, the competition, and his teammates. However, as Erickson succinctly puts it, Luck’s career had become “a cycle of pain, injury and rehab that he did not want to pursue anymore.”

That said, Luck does feel that he owes a debt to football. “I have certainly realized I still love this game, and I want to have it integrated in my life,” Luck said. “It’s just, it’s got to be different. Football gave me a lot. A lot. Most importantly, again, the relationships and the experiences with people that I loved. … I think part of me feels, and I don’t mean this in a cheesy way, but part of me feels like, you know, it’s my turn to give back to this game.”

The Stanford product returned to school to obtain a master’s degree in education, which he hopes to use in youth sports in some fashion. To that end, he serves as a part-time coach for Palo Alto High, though it is unclear if he ultimately wants to pursue coaching on a full-time basis.

At a time when 46-year-old Tom Brady is contemplating the possibility of a second “un-retirement,” and when other players like Kirk Cousins, Russell Wilson, and Matthew Stafford — who are all older than the 34-year-old Luck — are still starting-caliber options, a four-time Pro Bowler who walked away in the prime of a potential Hall of Fame career explains that he never considered coming back. If nothing else, that underscores the magnitude of the emotional and physical beating that Luck endured during his final several years as an active player.

Although his retirement decision was clearly a difficult one, the peace that Luck was quickly able to make with it suggests that it was also the right one.

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