An adage reminds us to “keep the main thing, the main thing.”
Andrew Luck realized what the “main thing” was.
Luck is a phenomenal football player. With a father who quarterbacked in the National Football League, Luck seemed anointed at birth to handle a pigskin. He did and did it quite well.
He played his college football at Stanford. As an All-American, he was runner-up two years running for the Heisman Trophy, college football’s most prestigious honor.
In 2012, the Indianapolis Colts took Luck as the first player selected in the draft. He had a bright future, destined to become a member of the professional pantheon of quarterbacks.
He was more than good. As the heir to Peyton Manning, he filled his shoes well for the Colts. But storm clouds loomed on a career horizon. In 2016, he played with his throwing shoulder hurt. He had surgery but missed the entire next season. In 2018, he led his team to a playoff appearance and was named the Comeback Player of the Year.
So when 2019 opened, it looked rosy. The Colts, with Luck at the stern, might make the Super Bowl again. Expectations rose.
Then, on Sunday, August 25, Luck announced his retirement shy of his 30th birthday.
Fans were more than puzzled. When Luck entered the Lucas Oil Field after news began to leak out, classless and clueless Colt fans showered him with boos. Then, it came to light that O. J. Simpson was ticked because he had picked Luck for his fantasy football team, and it was going to hurt some fictional “team.”
Luck left the football on the field for a simple reason.
He knew what was important in life.
When he described his decision, he focused on the pain of every comeback from every injury. It sucked the life out of him.
But the truth is Luck focused on three critical areas when finding priorities in life.
First was his family. Football at the professional level takes a lot of time. Luck and his wife Nicole are expecting their first child. He decided he wanted to be a father more than a quarterback.
His decision is one to emulate. In American society, too many fathers pursue promotion at the expense of their kids. Kids take time to raise. Fathers are critical and cannot offload responsibilities to mothers, nannies, or school teachers.
Luck knew that to lead his family, he had to be there than under center.
Second was his health. The stories of retired football players are frightening. The movie Concussion starring Will Smith, makes you wince every time a professional football player hits the turn.
It was time for Luck to select the kind of body and mind he wanted post-football. Surgeries had taken their toll. Which future hit will do the most damage? He must have thought that with every snap of the ball.
While modern medicine can seemingly perform miracles, it is not a substitute for taking responsibility for your health. Luck made his decision to walk away before he became a frothing vegetable of a man.
The final was his life’s interests. People have reasons for living. They need something to get them out of bed in the morning with purpose. Luck knew life was more than football (despite what every coach from Pee-Wee to pro tells their players).
Luck graduated from Stanford with a degree in architecture. He is fascinated by design and function. He is exploring teaching high school. He wants to focus his life on the things that matter to him and the world. He knew that records would be broken and forgotten. He wanted to do something more profound.
Tragically, people settle. It’s easy. Stay the course. Then comes the day when you wake up and realize that the world has moved and left you behind. You face eternity with an icy emptiness.
The time to change that is today. That’s what Luck did.
I realize that the brainless boobirds in Lucas Field’s stands and the self-proclaimed gods of sports-talk radio think they know better. Many don’t face life as it is and, therefore, miss the point of life. Live for something more significant than the moment.
The sad thing is Luck’s critics are so clueless.
Luck will be missed because he was both a tremendous athlete and, more importantly, person. I applaud his decision. It reminds me that there are still men who put life’s priorities over what happens at noon in NFL stadiums.
Have a great life, Andrew!