Andrew Luck shocked the football world Saturday, Aug. 24 by announcing his retirement after the Indianapolis Colts' preseason game against the Chicago Bears. The four-time Pro Bowl quarterback said that injuries and constant pain had taken away his enjoyment of the game and that he needed to focus on his long-term health.
"This is not an easy decision," Luck said during an impromptu news conference. "It's the hardest decision of my life. But it is the right decision for me.''
The league and fans are devastated by the announcement and rightly so. Luck was special; a can't-miss prospect who fully lived up to the hype. He was fun to watch and there will be a void in the NFL with his departure. His relatively short career was also filled with a lot of great moments. Here are the five biggest.
1. First Stanford 12-win season ever (2010)
A four-star recruit out of Stratford High School in Houston, Luck was redshirted in 2008 and earned the starting job in 2009. The next year, he broke John Elway’s single-season mark for touchdown passes with 32 and led Stanford to a 12-1 record and a 40-12 win over Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl. Prior to 2010, Stanford only had three 10-win seasons with the last being in 1992.
2. Stanford’s all-time passing leader and No. 1 overall pick in the draft (2012)
In his three seasons as Stanford's starting quarterback, Luck became the Cardinal's all-time leader in wins by a quarterback (31), total offense (10,387 yards), and touchdown passes (82). He also set the Pac-12 record for career completion percentage at 67.0 percent.
There have been numerous quarterbacks who have been taken with the first pick in the draft and not lived up to expectations. Coaches and analysts did not have those concerns with Luck. After his freshman year, Sports Illustrated's Tony Pauline called him "the most NFL-ready of all the draft-eligible quarterback prospects." He entered his junior year as the projected No. 1 pick and Mel Kiper Jr. said he was the best quarterback prospect since John Elway. In the end, the Indianapolis Colts got the first pick in the draft and chose to part ways with Peyton Manning to take him. Luck did not disappoint and led the Colts to an 11-5 season and playoff berth in his rookie year.
3. The rally Against Kansas City (2014)
The Colts won the AFC South in 2013 and hosted the Kansas City Chiefs at home for the Wild Card Round on Jan. 4, 2014. By the third quarter, the Chiefs led 38-10 and Indianapolis' season appeared to be over. Then Luck led a comeback for the ages, throwing three touchdown passes and scoring another by recovering a fumble and carrying it into the end zone. The Colts won 45-44 in the second-biggest playoff comeback in NFL history.
4. Touchdown passes leader (2014)
Luck then led Indianapolis to another division title in 2014 and recorded his most prolific season as he threw for 4,761 yards and with a league-leading 40 touchdown passes. The Colts also advanced to the AFC Championship Game, where they lost to the England Patriots.
5. NFL Comeback Player of the Year (2018)
Luck battled injuries in 2015 and '16 and missed the entire 2017 season because of an injured shoulder. He entered the 2018 season with questions surrounding his health and the Colts started 1-5. Then the team came together and won 11 of their next 12 games before losing to the Chiefs in the Divisional Round of the AFC playoffs. Luck posted career highs in completion percentage (67.3 percent) and quarterback rating (98.7) and was named NFL Comeback Player of the Year. His performance last season will always leave fans wondering what might have been.
— Written by Aaron Tallent, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Tallent is a writer whose articles have appeared in The Sweet Science, FOX Sports’ Outkick the Coverage, Liberty Island and The Washington Post. Follow him on Twitter at @AaronTallent.