Carolina Panthers star Luke Kuechly announces his retirement

Ross Houston
January 15, 2020

After earning Defensive Rookie of the Year Honors, in 2012, Kuechly was the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year in 2013 - as well as a seven-time Pro Bowler and five-time All-Pro selection.

"In my heart I know it's the right thing to do..." He is walking away from $21 million over the next two years. His 75 tackles for loss are tied for fifth among linebackers over that span.

Kuechly released a video announcing his retirement on the Carolina Panthers official Twitter page where he states "in my heart, I know it's the right thing to do".

Kuechly was in tears when he was carted off the field after a concussion during the 2016 season, a striking moment that highlighted the NFL's ongoing problem with brain injuries. "I still want to play, but I don't think it's the right decision". It was an unexpected announcement from the 28 year old, who made seven Pro Bowls in eight seasons.

"There's only one way to play this game since I was a little kid is to play fast and play physical and to play strong", Kuechly said.

Replacing Kuechly at this stage of his career, still seemingly in his prime, will be hard for the Panthers.

The NFL has lost another one of its stars to early retirement. The memories I have from this place and this organization and being on the field with these guys - they'll never go away.

"Words can't describe who Luke Kuechly is as a person, friend, and teammate", tight end Greg Olsen, who played with Kuechly his entire career, tweeted.

Kuechly went out of his way to say the coaching change didn't influence his decision. The Panthers fired Ron Rivera during the season and recently hired Matt Rhule as their new head coach.

Kuechly did not expand on any particular ailment that caused him to call it quits.

The linebacker shared in the video that he "hopes to still be involved in some way", meaning his career in football is likely not over for good.

"While I wish we could have him for many more years, he has done everything the right way and we respect the decision that he's made", Panthers owner David Tepper said.

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