In the hours following Andrew Luck's stunning retirement announcement Saturday night, the 29-year-old quarterback has been at the center of massive backlash from fans within the NFL fandom who consider the personal decision based on a long list of injuries over the past few seasons that plagued his overall well-being, as "soft."
While in the eyes of NFL stars and many fans, it can be evidenced throughout his seasons that he was an exceptionally hard worker who gave his body to get better on a daily basis, that respect does not exist among some "fans" of the sport, nor radio personalities who made it a point to call out his decision and set aside his personal welfare.
When news broke Saturday night that Luck was retiring, the immediate reaction from the crowd at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis was to rip off any jersey bearing his name, then boo. On Twitter, the disrespect continued as unnamed radio hosts called him a "millennial" for wanting to avoid the constant cycle of rehab and injury. As other "fans" sent a variety of vitriolic takes out into the world, there were thousands that came to Luck's defense and explained why it was critical for him to step away due to the toll on his body and brain.
I've seen some real crappy takes on #AndrewLuckRetirement. Mental exhaustion, anxiety, depression, etc. ARE medical issues. We need to stop treating them as less than physical ones. This world will be better off the sooner we grasp that.— Kat (@KatInTheCLE) August 25, 2019
"What is wrong with people who condemn a man for choosing his health and his family over getting physically and mentally beaten up for your entertainment. Unlike so much in society, this was not a decision based on greed, it was one of finding happiness!" wrote Jeff Paulus, the head coach of FC Edmonton.
Former ESPN personality, Bonnie Bernstein was furious over the unkindness shown toward Luck, writing: "If you've played [football] at any level, or spent a whole lotta time at field level hearing the crashing of bodies/helmets [raised hand emoji] you realize 'football player' and 'soft' simply do not go together. I'm sorry. They just don't."
Others chimed in, hoping Luck's retirement based off what was the right decision for him, would open dialogue for healthy public discourse to break down toxic masculinity cycles often built up within sports.
“Dear [Colts Nation] that booed [Andrew Luck] shame on you. His health means more than your entertainment. Smh,” wrote another.
Unpopular opinion: I’m really excited for the day when we see athletes as humans. People that struggle with mental health and have the right to decide when their bodies and minds can no longer endure the stress of sport. Not just as dollar signs. #AndrewLuckRetirement— Hannah Gard (@Hannah_Henry11) August 25, 2019
Andrew Luck gave up the job he loves/has worked his whole life for (not to mention 58 mil) to take care of himself...and people actually booed him for it? Toxic masculinity really is out here wildin’. Athletes don’t owe us anything, let them live their lives on their own terms.— Katy Duffy (@katyduffy_) August 25, 2019
"If you listen to [Andrew Luck's] press conference and have a problem with his decision. You should re-evaluate your life," added another. "Made the decision that was right for him and his mental health. A decision the majority of us would make."
The outpouring of support continued all Saturday night and into Sunday, especially after Luck explained how he was mentally exhausted from the past four years of injuries. Any time someone on Twitter decided to call Luck "soft" for his decision, they were met with a wave of criticism. For example, Derek Carr's older brother, Darren, sent a message to many of the haters and said: "Luck may just need a breather...support him."
Whether it was former coaches, players, or other football fans, the wave of support for Luck's decision was never-ending on social media. Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians said that his reaction to the booing was something couldn't be put in print while Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman talked about Luck's amazing character.
Even former Kansas City Chiefs running back, Christian Okoye made a point to explain that the decision was made so that Luck could take care of himself: "Andrew Luck announced his retirement from playing yesterday. Its (sic) a shame that he was booed and people getting upset. Dude is taking care of himself! Too many injuries."0comments
Per reports from Colts reporter, Zak Keefer via Twitter, Luck endured a long list of injuries during his six NFL seasons, including torn cartilage in two ribs, a partially torn abdomen, a lacerated kidney that left him peeing blood, at least one concussion, a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder and a calf/ankle issue that led to his final decision.
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