After six NFL seasons, Andrew Luck ’12 announced his retirement Saturday at the age of 29. The former Cardinal and Heisman runner-up was drafted No. 1 overall by the Colts in 2012, taking the franchise to the playoffs four times over the course of a near-illustrious career marred by injuries.
The news was first reported on Twitter by Adam Schefter during the fourth quarter of a preseason game against the Chicago Bears. Luck was seen talking with his Indianapolis Colts teammates on the sideline.
Jacoby Brissett, who started 15 games for the Colts in the 2017 season due to Luck being injured, is expected to take over as starting quarterback.
“[Brissett] helped me grow in so many ways, he’s a life-long friend, and he means so much to me,” Luck said in an emotional press conference delivered after the Colts’ 27-17 loss. “I cannot wait to support him and see him lead this team.”
As Luck departed the field, he was met with boos from fans at Lucas Oil Stadium.
“It hurt,” Luck said.
Before the story became public, Luck had already met with Colts owner Jim Irsay to inform him of his decision. Luck said he planned to tell his teammates Sunday before the timeline was changed.
He described a four-year cycle of pain, between injury and rehab, from which his only escape was retirement.
“I’ve been stuck in this process,” Luck said. “I haven’t been able to live the life I want to live. It’s taken the joy out of this game… the only way forward for me is to remove myself from football.”
The physical toll of his NFL career includes torn cartilage in two ribs, a partially torn abdomen a lacerated kidney, a torn labrum and a concussion. All of this preceded the current leg injury that has kept his preseason status in doubt.
“It’s taken my joy of this game away,” he said.
While with the Colts, Luck was a four-time Pro Bowl nominee and the 2018 NFL Comeback Player of the Year. In 2014, Luck led the NFL in passing touchdowns.
“When I was away in 2017 for the latter half of the season, I had to figure out why I wanted to come back and play football,” Luck said. “I boiled it simply down to the fact that I liked throwing the ball to my friends, and I loved throwing the ball to TY Hilton. He’s the best football player I’ve ever played with, and he’s a better teammate than a football player.”
He led the Colts to the playoffs in his first three seasons in the NFL, as well as his final season.
His legacy at Stanford is long. Offensive coordinator Tavita Pritchard’s position is endowed as the Andrew Luck Director of Offense. As the Cardinal quarterback, Luck took Stanford to three bowl appearances, including the 2011 Orange Bowl and the 2012 Fiesta Bowl.
He concluded his career ranked first all-time in touchdown passes (82), completion percentage (.687), passing efficiency (162.76) and total offense (10,387). His total wins, winning percentage and rushing yards are the most by any Stanford quarterback.
In his final season with Stanford, Luck won both the Maxwell Award and the Walter Camp Award, both given to the top collegiate football player.
“I’m proud of him, if this is the end, he put it all on tape, he put his best foot forward, and he did everything he could,” said Luck’s Stanford teammate and current NFL cornerback Richard Sherman ’10.
When asked for his favorite Stanford memories, Sherman said, “It was probably the Orange Bowl. Actually, it was the Big Game my senior year when [Luck] ran for like a 65-yard gain and ran somebody over. Either that, or that tackle he made against USC, when he killed Shareece [Wright].”
Luck came to Stanford as a top recruit from Stratford High School in Houston, Texas. When he passed up the NFL draft his junior year, already a penciled-in first overall selection, many saw it as a surprise. Instead, Luck stayed to finish his degree in architectural design, and has now surprised the football world again with his decision to retire.
Contact Daniel Martinez-Krams at danielmk ‘at’ stanford.edu.