INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck on Saturday evening announced his stunning decision to retire from the National Football League.
Luck, 29, who has been dealing with lingering pain in his calf and ankle for months, said in a press conference after Saturday's preseason Week 3 game against the Chicago Bears that the "injury-pain-rehab cycle" he's experienced over the last few years — particularly as it pertained to the shoulder injury that prevented him from playing the entire 2017 season, as well as this most recent issue — just simply became too much to overcome.
"It's been unceasing, unrelenting, both in-season and offseason, and I felt stuck in it," Luck said. "And the only way I see out is to no longer play football. It's taken my joy of this game away and … I've been stuck in this process (and) haven't been able to live the life I want to live."
Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay expressed his gratitude for everything Luck was able to give the franchise over the last seven-plus years.
"We wish Andrew only the best and we thank him for all his efforts that he's done as a Colt," Irsay told reporters Saturday night. "And going forward we have nothing but gratitude for him going to battle with us."
After mulling the decision for about the last two weeks, Luck approached Irsay, general manager Chris Ballard and head coach Frank Reich on Monday and announced his intention to step away from the game. What followed, according to Ballard, was an "emotional week."
"We wish Andrew Luck the best," Ballard said Saturday night. "This young man has done a lot for the city of Indianapolis and for the Indianapolis Colts."
"It's hard to put into words the emotions you feel, and thankfully Chris and I and Mr. Irsay have had some time to digest this — and it's been hard to digest," Reich added. "Being in that room with (Luck) for the last 18 months was just the experience of a lifetime."
Luck had aggravated his calf injury during the offseason and missed the entire on-field portion of the offseason workout program. After taking part in two of the team's first three camp practices as a limited participant and still feeling pain and discomfort in his lower leg, however, the Colts decided to keep the quarterback off the practice field for the immediate time being.
The team narrowed the primary source of Luck's pain to the front of his ankle, but Luck said it became clear over the last couple weeks that the pain just wasn't getting better. Not wanting to re-live the 2016 season — one in which he played through immense pain in his shoulder — Luck said he came to the conclusion that it was time to step away from the game.
"In 2016, after that season when I played through some stuff I made a vow to myself that I would never do that to myself again," Luck said. "The lack of progress just builds up. … I feel so much clarity and I'm, again, so grateful for the experiences and the positive times that I have had here."
Luck finishes his Colts career having completed 2000-of-3,290 passes for 23,671 yards and 171 touchdowns to 83 interceptions over 86 regular season games. He ranks third all-time in franchise history in completions, passing attempts, passing yards and touchdowns, and is second in completion percentage (60.8) and quarterback rating (89.5).
A four-time Pro Bowl selection (2012, 2013, 2014, 2018), Luck, the 2018 NFL Comeback Player of the Year, posted a 55-33 overall regular season record and led the Colts to the AFC Championship Game in 2014.