Luck Out

I like watching others play football. I never wanted to play the sport because it’s painful and I’m not a masochist. That’s why I refuse to judge those who play or when they choose to hang it up. For NFL players, it should be called working football, not playing. It’s hard and dangerous work.

That brings me to the case of recently retired Indianapolis Colts quarterback, Andrew Luck. Luck is only 29 but here’s a litany of the injuries he’s suffered as a pro:

… a lacerated kidney, injured ribs, at least one concussion, torn cartilage in his throwing shoulder and, most recently, a calf and ankle injury.

His retirement leaked during a preseason game and Luck was booed mightily by his Hoosier fan base. He was also attacked by observers for lacking the intestinal fortitude to take a beating for a living:

This bozo is a Fox Sports loudmouth. Thanks for trotting out an imbecilic generational cliche, fuckhead. I’m on the record as hating generational stereotypes:

Too many get bogged down in generational politics; one of the dullest subjects on the planet. It’s dull because it’s cliche laden: not all Baby Boomers sold out, not all Gen-Xers are slackers, and not all Millennials are twitter obsessed airheads. More importantly, not all members of the greatest generation were all that great. I often thought that my late father’s motto could have been, “We won the war so we don’t have to listen.”

Perhaps Mr. Fox Sports Loudmouth envies Luck for attending Stanford and having done more than play football. It’s his body and his choice to retire. Playing pro football is a tough way to make a living, talking about it is easy. Watching it and judging the players on their “toughness” is easier still.

It’s easy to see football players as gladiators but they’re people, not chess pieces. I don’t know about you but I’m not fond of pain. I’ve had to live with minor aches and pains for most of my life. I cannot imagine having a lacerated kidney and continuing with the activity that caused such an injury. If that means I can’t “man up” sufficiently, so be it.

The reaction to Luck’s retirement is particularly horrific because we’ve learned so much about the deleterious impact playing pro football has on the players. If Luck wants to walk away from the sport while can still walk, that’s his choice; just as it’s Drew Brees’ choice to keep playing at age 40. It’s up to the players, not the fans or sportscasters. They don’t feel the players pain, they just think they do.

4 thoughts on “Luck Out

  1. After that post-mortem study of 110 former player brains showed all but one of them had evidence of CTE, the thought crossed my mind, “By watching football, I’m watching young men grind up their brains for my entertainment.” Once thought, I couldn’t unthink it, and I quit watching a game I’d enjoyed for nearly 50 years.

    1. I only watch my teams: the Saints and LSU and cringe when they hit too hard.

    2. I’m not to that point yet, but with a daughter whose stellar soccer career was prematurely ended by traumatic brain injury and whose academic career in global health nearly was, I can certainly see there from here. Weirdly, she and I both still watch Panthers games. It’s complicated.

      1. It is complicated, and I can’t make that choice for anyone but myself. Once I’d thought my can’t-unthink-it thought, I mulled over the number of former players who were living out their days in agony from the beatings their bodies had taken. Or the ones who died young, like Lyle Alzado, from the drugs they’d ingested to keep playing. Or, or, or. It just added up to too much.

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