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Don’t boo Andrew Luck, applaud him

He’s choosing his future and happiness over money and pain

2012 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl Photo by Rob Tringali/SportsChrome/Getty Images

I don’t blame Andrew Luck for retiring. Yes, I’m still shocked, but when I put myself in his shoes, I begin to comprehend his decision.

Think about it. His entire life revolved around football. He played high school football in Texas, finished second in the Heisman voting twice, and came into the NFL with gigantic expectations. But football was not forgiving towards him.

In six NFL seasons, Luck felt more than a lifetime of pain. He tore cartilage in two ribs, partially tore his abdomen, suffered a lacerated kidney, had at least one concussion, tore his labrum in his throwing shoulder, and is currently suffering from a leg injury that we know little about.

These injuries are not your typical dents in an NFL football player. His lacerated kidney left him peeing blood. Players are more aware of the long term effects of concussions, and his torn labrum forced him to miss a year.

As someone who played tackle football, a sprained finger and a couple big bruises were enough for me to reconsider playing. I can’t even fathom the level of injuries Luck faced. Almost unanimously those who’ve played in the NFL agree that Luck is the most beat up player since his arrival.

Even so, many criticize the former top pick for turning away $60 million over the next three years. But can money buy happiness?

I spent this entire summer working in the woods of Montana. I could’ve lived at home with the local country club five minutes away, which comes with air conditioning, television, and home-cooked meals. Instead, I lived without phone service or television in a small, dirty cabin in the sweltering heat.

With little money, I was the happiest I’ve ever been. It was the best summer of my life.

Maybe Luck wants a similar lifestyle. He’s indicated that he wants to be a high school teacher—a job where he’ll have his summers free to raise a family.

Luck’s already made almost $100 million over his career. Luck also famously used a flip phone. Long story short, I’m sure he has a lot of money he’s saved or invested. If he wants to be a teacher, it’s because he wants to bring good for others—not because he needs money.

If I was in Luck’s shoes, I’d make the same decision. The former quarterback is doing the most courageous thing any person can do, choosing his future and happiness over pain and money.

I applaud you, Andrew.