INDIANAPOLIS — It's never easy to say "goodbye" to a teammate.
When that teammate is one of the league's top players who fought and clawed his way through several notable injuries in recent seasons, it's even harder.
However, in speaking with the teammates of now-former Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, they say they'll miss the person even more than the player after he announced he was retiring from the National Football League on Saturday night.
On Monday, the media spoke with several members of the Colts who have played with Luck over the years, getting their reflections on how they took the news of Luck's retirement as well as what he meant to them.
Quarterback Jacoby Brissett
» "It's been a roller coaster of emotions. The main thing is just not being able to see Andrew everyday. Today was kinda weird walking in and not seeing him, but that's the thing to deal with. There are ups and downs, but it's on the way up now, so that's all that matters."
» "I was shocked, which I'm sure everybody was — y'all wouldn't be if y'all weren't shocked either — I was shocked. Then, we had a long conversation, there was just emotions going back and forth, but you sit down and talk to him, you understand his decision. Like I said, it's one of my good friends, so it's tough, but I'm sure both of us will deal with it."
» "I was kinda — my emotions, I won't describe that — but he was smiling at the end. That's what helped me gain clarity and understanding of the situation, seeing him smile. I wish him the best. He knows that, and we'll talk longer than the days of either one of our football careers. But he seemed happy and that's all that really matters."
» (On being the quarterback when Luck returned from shoulder surgery) "It was definitely awkward. When I first met Andrew when I first got traded here, I saw a different Andrew when he came back the next year. We've had conversations about what we initially thought of each other, and then just to see how the relationship has changed, and now we kinda talk every day. I never really thought that I would talk to him everyday and actually enjoy the conversation, and that changed drastically when he got back. It's been a growing relationship ever since. Like I said, I call him a friend that will extend longer than football."
Tight end Jack Doyle
» "Yeah, I've got mixed emotions. A lot of people I'm sure are sad to not have him in here everyday, but I'm also very happy for him to be at peace with it and to have clarity with what he was doing. I'm happy for him and his wife, Nicole."
Safety Clayton Geathers
» "Yeah, that's been my guy. He's been the leader of this team on and off the field. I'm happy for him. I'm supporting him in everything he does. He will always be a leader. And that's him, a true competitor."
» (On what it means to have a unique bond with Luck that you typically may not see between a quarterback and safety) "Yeah, a lot, man. Not only on the field, just off the field with life and how to handle things and go through adversity. When adversity hit me, he was always there to give me just a little encouraging word, so that was always good. I remember my first day in here, he came and introduced himself to me. I was like, 'I know who you are, I'm Clayton Geathers.' So that was pretty big. That just shows you the type of guy he is. He's always willing to help out and give you an encouraging word, an uplifting word to help you get through things."
Guard Mark Glowinski
» "He let a few of us know a little earlier within that day, so I was able to at least get my mind wrapped around it a little bit. It was pretty hard. Everything he was doing was for the benefit of him and also for the benefit of the team rather than hold out or wait longer to see if he was going to change his mind or something just so we could get ready for the season and be ready instead of letting it linger."
» "I would just say that the person that he is and just his character and intelligence and everything that he does off the field and how dialed-in he was for his preparation and everything. I thought he was by far the best football player that I've been able to play with. It might not be how athletic he is, but just everything that he would do to make sure that he was ready for the game, and know everything, and the questions and stuff. He might ask questions that he already knew (the answers to) even if it was just to prepare someone else. The things that he would do just to help the team and stuff like that."
Offensive lineman Joe Haeg
» "I was surprised like everyone. I think him having to make that decision, I respect the hell out of it. You could tell when he was talking to us after the game, that he was sure about it. You could tell how hard the decision was for him. I'm happy for him and wish him the best going forward, but now we're ready to go with Jacoby and I'm excited to see how the season goes."
» "He's taught all of us a great deal about football. He's just a great leader, a great friend, a great teammate, and overall just an amazing player as well. It's been awesome. I cherish all the times I've been able to play with him and being a friend with him. I was happy for the time I was able to spend with him."
Wide receiver T.Y. Hilton
» "It's been very tough. That's my guy. That's my best friend. It's hurtin'. Not gonna lie, it took a toll on me, but I was able to have that heart-to-heart with him, that man-to-man, and we talked. I was cool with his decision, I was cool with it, and he's always gonna be with me."
» "A lot of hugs, a lot of cries. It was a very emotional heart-to-heart we had. It was sad, but I understood where he was coming from because when he's in pain, I'm in pain. When I'm in pain, he's in pain. So we pretty much felt one another. It was hard, but at the same time I understood."
» "He was the first person to text me when I got drafted, and we just bonded from there. Eight years together is pretty special. We laughed and cried, we hugged and told each other we love each other probably more this week than we ever did. It's a bond that will never be broken."
Running back Nyheim Hines
» "Just shocked, a little bit shocked. But I mean, you've gotta respect the man's decision. I support Andrew all the way. He was doing what he thought was best for himself and the team at the time. Nothing wrong with that, just a little bit shocked. Nobody saw this coming, but it's fine. I support him, and I'm happy for him that he's at peace with the decision he made. So that's really all it is."
» "Personally, he was always a bright spot for me. Last year when I was struggling, he would be the first person to be like, 'Nyheim, you can do this, you can do that.' I think for me, he helped my career out just by having faith in me and believing in me. Everybody else was telling me things I was doing bad, he was telling me to just stay in there and keep working. There'd be times where I could drop a ball or something and he'd come right back to me. So, that's my guy. He always used to call me 'Little Guy.' I'll always be his 'Little Guy,' so that's awesome. I'm excited for him and his next chapter in life honestly."
Quarterback Chad Kelly
» "For the four months that I was here, I learned a ton. Not just in film, but how to approach a meeting, how to approach the media and other things like that. I think it was a blessing to have him here for those four or five months. I never really got to sit down and pick his brain a lot. Hopefully in the next couple weeks I'll be able to still get in contact with him, and hopefully we can get together and hopefully talk some more football."
» "It stinks that I wasn't here sooner where I could've learned a whole bunch more. Obviously he's a great quarterback. He's proven himself, he's won a ton of games, and he did it at such a high level and with a lot of people trusting everything he did and said. That's what I wanna be able to get to. Hopefully, down the road I can talk to him and still learn as much as I can from him."
» "I did briefly (talked to Luck since the announcement) for three seconds at the stadium. I just wanted to say, 'Man, I learned a ton just in the four months that I've been here.' Hopefully I can text him in a couple days once everything kind of winds down for him. I know he's probably enjoying his time, but it's definitely a difficult time for him and all of us."
» "It didn't seem real, you know? Obviously when I was in college, Andrew Luck was awesome. He was that guy. Coming to this team and being a teammate of his and seeing how he approached the game, seeing how he approached the meetings. Just every day, one of the first guys in here. I definitely was in shock."
» "Just knowing the NFL game, seeing how well he's done - it didn't even need to be said. Of course you just try to take in everything that's going on, everything he does. The treatments, the way he approached meetings, it was just constant. It was the constant reminder, 'this is what it takes.' I jotted everything down. Everything he said, I wanted to write down and it's gotta pay off because that guy's a brilliant guy."
Center Ryan Kelly
» "I didn't see it coming, but we talked one-on-one privately and so he explained everything that was going through his mind and what he had come to in his heart. That's all you can do is just respect that."
Linebacker Darius Leonard
» "First, I was very shocked. I found out on the sideline, so at first emotions were high. For me, selfishly — because I was upset at first, that's just me being selfish — but after I'd thought about it and knowing all that Andrew's done and knowing what kind of guy he is, I think it was a great decision. I respect his decision, and I'm definitely looking forward to the season."
"Just being a great leader, especially helping me out tremendously. Definitely on the field, learning from a great quarterback like that, kind of trying to disguise a whole lot of things and he'd pick it up. Definitely picking his brain almost everyday trying to figure out things to make me better as a linebacker."
Running back Marlon Mack
» "Just pretty much just shocked, especially from a guy like him, but it is what it is. Everybody has their point, and Andrew reached it. Football's not gonna be forever, everybody knows that. I definitely know that, especially as a running back, that pretty soon I'm gonna be out the door. Everybody has their time, and it was just his time."
» (On his first impression of Luck) "Definitely a smart guy, especially at the time of my rookie year when he was in and went through everything. He made a point — especially me as a rookie — he tested rookies a lot my year even though he really wasn't playing, he was just in for a little bit. Just definitely a smart guy."
Guard Quenton Nelson
» "I was a bit in shock. He meant a lot. I learned a lot from him, just seeing him in the building and how hard he worked every single day. He was always doing something, always here early. Just a true pro, so I was able to learn a lot from him."
Head coach Frank Reich
» "Someone asked me a question the other day: 'Is there any sense that you felt like Andrew is letting down the team?' And the answer was an emphatic 'no.' Any why is that? Well, Colts fans know that we use a metaphor around here of climbing Mount Everest to depict the journey of a regular season and the quest to get to the top and win a world championship. And anyone who's made that climb knows that it requires a total commitment of the heart - complete and total commitment of the heart. And when Andrew spoke to us the other day, he spoke of how the cycle of injury, and pain and rehab; injury, pain, rehab; injury, pain, rehab over four years had taken its toll. It had essentially sucked the passion, the joy, the fun out of football. And so Andrew did the right thing. He did the right thing for himself, and he did the right thing for the team, knowing the requirement and the commitment that's needed for the journey ahead. He did the courageous thing and he did the honorable thing."
» (On how difficult it was to go through gameday on Saturday knowing Luck was retiring) "It was hard. I mean, I remember getting a call from him the previous offseason before he had never thrown a football. We had a conversation one time and I said, 'Well, if you ever wanna throw a football sometime, you know my cell.' I'll remember stuff like this, I'll remember him calling me and saying, 'I'm gonna be at the complex tomorrow, let's throw a football,' and that being the first football that he threw after that whole shoulder ordeal. Those are the kind of things that I think as a coach are special that you remember. The quarterback meeting room with Nick and Marcus and Jacoby and Phil was a really unique room, a special room. The fun, the ball that we talked, the things that we learned. Those are all the emotions that go through your mind."
Here were some of Luck's teammates' reactions to news of his retirement on their Twitter accounts: