Carolina Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly retiring after 8 seasons in NFL
Carolina linebacker Luke Kuechly is retiring from the NFL after eight seasons.
The 28-year-old made the surprising announcement Tuesday night in a video posted on the team’s website. He said, “I think now is the right chance to move on.”
Kuechly was selected to seven Pro Bowls and was a first-team All-Pro five times. However, he suffered three concussions in his career, which might have led to his decision.
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.
“It makes me sad because I love playing this game,” Kuechly said. “I’ve played it since I was a kid. It’s my favorite thing to do in the world. The memories I have from this place and this organization and being on the field with these guys, they will never go away. There’s only one way to play this game since I was a little kid — play fast, play physical and play strong. At this point, I don’t know if I am able to do that anymore.”
Kuechly finishes his career with 1,092 tackles, the most by any player since he came into the league in 2012 as a first-round pick out of Boston College.
Kuechly was part of three NFC South championships and helped the Panthers reach the Super Bowl in the 2015 season.
“While I wish we could have him for many more years, he has done everything the right way and we respect the decision he has made,” Panthers owner David Tepper said. “Luke is a once-in-a-generation player and someone we want every member of this organization to emulate.”
Kuechly suffered a notable concussion Nov. 17, 2016, when he left the field after a collision with a New Orleans player. He left the game on a cart crying uncontrollably, a moment that shook the Panthers’ organization and other players.
Kuechly later said he wasn’t concerned about concussions affecting his future.
He suffered a third concussion in 2017, but continued playing.
Gates retires: Antonio Gates, who became one of the most prolific tight ends in the NFL without playing a down of college football, announced his retirement.
Gates spent his 16-year career with the San Diego and Los Angeles Chargers. His 116 touchdown catches are most by a tight end in league history.
“I never dreamed that I would play this game of football so long or how fortunate I would be to play it with just one organization,” he said in a statement. “I want to thank the Chargers organization, Dean Spanos and the Spanos family, and the National Football League for the opportunity to live out a dream and play the game I love.”
Gates, who did not play this season, will join the Chargers’ front office as a legends ambassador. He is the franchise leader in receptions (955), receiving yards (11,841) and touchdowns. His 220 regular-season games are second. He had eight seasons when he had eight or more touchdowns.
Gates, who played basketball at Kent State University, signed with the Chargers as an undrafted rookie in 2003. He helped the Chargers to seven postseason appearances.
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