Put us down for being firm supporters of Andrew Luck.
He’s the Indianapolis Colts quarterback who announced his retirement during training camp because his body is just too banged up.
Andrew Luck is “only” 29 years old. He started playing in the NFL in 2012.
By comparison, Tom Brady, who is 42 years old and still playing, started his NFL career in 2001.
Not everyone is Tom Brady. Few athletes have ever achieved that level of performance over such a long time.
For Andrew Luck, playing in the NFL—getting flattened and crunched by 300-pound defensive linemen—took its toll.
And has he walked off the field for the last time, fans booed!
As an excellent piece in The Guardian noted, Andrew Luck is human. The article, “The Science Behind Andrew Luck’s shock NFL Retirement,” took an in-depth look at Luck’s unfortunate injuries.
Clearly, Andrew Luck loves the game—and would have continued if his body allowed him to play.
But, again, he’s human. He has “tendons and cartilage that can tear and bones that can break,” the Guardian wrote. “Though his skill might seem superhuman, his ability to heal is not. Faced with the Sisyphean task of rehabbing yet another injury, Luck chose to retire from the NFL on Saturday at 29 years old.”
The Guardian did a great job of detailing Luck’s anatomical challenges—genuine medical issues that no amount of masculine bravado or sheer human desire could overcome.
Luck’s issues included a shoulder subluxation (a near dislocation) several years ago. Other issues included an anterior cruciate joint sprain (sustained while snowboarding and years of playing high school, college and pro football); a lacerated kidney; a partially torn abdominal muscle; torn cartilage in his ribs; a concussion; and a calf strain.
The shoulder, however, was the major source of trouble.
Again, the Guardian did a terrific job of explaining one of the most complicated, intricate joints in the human body.
“In a joint that inherently lacks stability—the shoulder joint is often compared to a golf ball on a tee—the labrum lines the shoulder socket and helps keeps the ball of the joint in place. Like cartilage in other areas of the body, a torn labrum won’t heal on its own. Throwing, training and ‘routine’ contact were surely affected by the injury, likely causing the missed games and sub-par performances of the 2015 season.”
The difficulty, the Guardian pointed out, “comes from walking a narrow line between preserving the needed mobility of the shoulder while on the other hand, restoring its stability.”
(Luck’s labral tear was in the back of his shoulder, not the front or top, like most of the throwers that have the surgery—making it an especially tricky one to rehab and heal.)
Anyone who has used the Anatomy in Clay® Learning System to build the entire rotator cuff complex understands the intricacy of this joint—how the muscles work together to provide mobility and stability at the same time.
You could make an argument that the wrist is a complicated joint as well, but your whole upper body strength relies so much on the shoulder, from Supraspinatus to the Lower Trapezius, and its capabilities.
And sometimes, they get hurt.
Andrew Luck opted to think long-term—to realize that as much as he loved football, he also wanted to live a full and active life after the NFL.
Nobody other than Andrew Luck knows how he felt on the inside. Nobody other than Andrew Luck already knew all the pain he had endured or tried to override with will.
Professional athletes show us the human body’s athletic potential. Only one other quarterback—Dan Marino—had more passing touchdowns in his first six seasons than did Andrew Luck.
These athletes are specimens of physical fitness and marvels of human performance. At times, they also show us the body’s limits. And when those limits are reached it’s perfectly acceptable, to our way of thinking, to say “enough.”