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Panthers LB Luke Kuechly, 28, says retiring from NFL is 'right thing to do'&Luke Kuechly calls it a career after eight remarkable seasons

Luke Kuechly calls it a career after eight remarkable seasons



CHARLOTTE – Linebacker Luke Kuechly, arguably the best linebacker in the NFL since he was a first-round pick in 2012, is retiring.
"I think now is the right chance for me to move on," Kuechly said. "It makes me sad because I love playing this game, I've played it since I was a kid. It's my favorite thing in the world to do. The memories I have from this place and this organization and being on the field with these guys – they'll never go away.
"In my heart I know it's the right thing to do… There's only one way to play this game since I was a little kid – play fast, play physical and play strong. And at this point I don't know if I am able to do that anymore."

The 28-year-old tackling machine and the face of the Panthers defense just finished his eighth NFL season. Unquestionably, he's one of the greatest players to ever wear a Carolina uniform and one of the best linebackers the game has ever seen.
"Beyond his extraordinary performance on the field, Luke has had a tremendous impact on this organization and region," owner David Tepper said. "In my two seasons with Luke, I quickly recognized how special of a person he is. The respect he gives and garners from others as well as the positive impact he has on his peers is second to none. It's obviously going to be very difficult for all of us because we know that no player can replace what he's been for this organization for the last eight years. His presence can't be replicated."
Kuechly's resume includes seven Pro Bowl nods, seven AP All-Pro selections with five on the first team, the Defensive Player of the Year award (2013) and the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year award (2012).
He finishes his career with 1,092 tackles, the most in the NFL since he entered the league. His 18 interceptions are most by a linebacker since 2012 and third-most in franchise history. His 75 tackles for loss are tied for fifth among linebackers over that span.
He was part of three teams that claimed the NFC South title (2013-15), and he helped get the Panthers to their second Super Bowl appearance in franchise history in 2015. He returned an interception back for a touchdown in the divisional matchup against Seattle and the conference championship game versus Arizona -- two plays that will forever live in Panthers lore.
"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," Tepper said. "Luke is a once-in-a-generation player and someone we want every member of this organization to emulate.




Panthers LB Luke Kuechly, 28, says retiring from NFL is 'right thing to do'

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Carolina Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly, fighting back tears in a video posted on social media, announced on Tuesday night his plans to retire from the NFL at age 28.

There's only one way to play this game since I was a little kid -- play fast, play physical and play strong,'' Kuechly said. "And at this point I don't know if I am able to do that anymore. That's the part that is the most difficult.''
Kuechly paused to gather his emotions.
"I still want to play, but I don't think it's the right decision,'' he continued. "I thought about it for a long time. Now is an opportunity to step away with what's going on here.''
Kuechly didn't explain exactly why he can't play fast, physical and strong at this point in his career. What is known is that from 2015 to 2017, the 2013 NFL Defensive Player of the Year missed seven games due to concussions.
He wore an experimental device named the "Q Collar'' around his neck the past three seasons; the inventor claimed it reduced the risk of concussions. Kuechly was last officially ruled out for a concussion after he was carted off the field in tears during a Thursday night game in 2017. He did miss time during training camp for an undisclosed injury, but he later insisted that wasn't a concussion.
Kuechly said his final farewell from his favorite place besides the field, the linebackers room at Bank of America Stadium where he watched countless hours of film to be one of the best linebackers in the NFL.
"I think now is the right chance for me to move on," Kuechly said. "It makes me sad because I love playing this game -- I've played it since I was a kid. It's my favorite thing in the world to do. The memories I have from this place and this organization and being on the field with these guys -- they'll never go away
Former Carolina coach Ron Rivera, who selected Kuechly out of Boston College with the ninth pick of the 2012 draft, expressed to ESPN.com via text that it was good Kuechly gets to "go out on his own terms.''
"One of the really good, young men to play the game, and I am proud to be able to say I got to coach him,'' wrote Rivera, now the head coach of the Washington Redskins.
Rivera was fired with four games left in the regular season, and Baylor coach Matt Rhule recently was hired to replace him. Kuechly said his decision had nothing to do with the coaching change.
Owner David Tepper praised the "tremendous impact'' Kuechly has had on the organization.
"In my two seasons with Luke, I quickly recognized how special of a person he is,'' Tepper said in a statement. "The respect he gives and garners from others as well as the positive impact he has on his peers is second to none.
"It's obviously going to be very difficult for all of us because we know that no player can replace what he's been for this organization for the last eight years. His presence can't be replicated.


Luke Kuechly calls it a career after eight remarkable seasons



CHARLOTTE – Linebacker Luke Kuechly, arguably the best linebacker in the NFL since he was a first-round pick in 2012, is retiring.
"I think now is the right chance for me to move on," Kuechly said. "It makes me sad because I love playing this game, I've played it since I was a kid. It's my favorite thing in the world to do. The memories I have from this place and this organization and being on the field with these guys – they'll never go away.
"In my heart I know it's the right thing to do… There's only one way to play this game since I was a little kid – play fast, play physical and play strong. And at this point I don't know if I am able to do that anymore."

The 28-year-old tackling machine and the face of the Panthers defense just finished his eighth NFL season. Unquestionably, he's one of the greatest players to ever wear a Carolina uniform and one of the best linebackers the game has ever seen.
"Beyond his extraordinary performance on the field, Luke has had a tremendous impact on this organization and region," owner David Tepper said. "In my two seasons with Luke, I quickly recognized how special of a person he is. The respect he gives and garners from others as well as the positive impact he has on his peers is second to none. It's obviously going to be very difficult for all of us because we know that no player can replace what he's been for this organization for the last eight years. His presence can't be replicated."
Kuechly's resume includes seven Pro Bowl nods, seven AP All-Pro selections with five on the first team, the Defensive Player of the Year award (2013) and the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year award (2012).
He finishes his career with 1,092 tackles, the most in the NFL since he entered the league. His 18 interceptions are most by a linebacker since 2012 and third-most in franchise history. His 75 tackles for loss are tied for fifth among linebackers over that span.
He was part of three teams that claimed the NFC South title (2013-15), and he helped get the Panthers to their second Super Bowl appearance in franchise history in 2015. He returned an interception back for a touchdown in the divisional matchup against Seattle and the conference championship game versus Arizona -- two plays that will forever live in Panthers lore.
"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," Tepper said. "Luke is a once-in-a-generation player and someone we want every member of this organization to emulate.




Panthers LB Luke Kuechly, 28, says retiring from NFL is 'right thing to do'

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Carolina Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly, fighting back tears in a video posted on social media, announced on Tuesday night his plans to retire from the NFL at age 28.

There's only one way to play this game since I was a little kid -- play fast, play physical and play strong,'' Kuechly said. "And at this point I don't know if I am able to do that anymore. That's the part that is the most difficult.''
Kuechly paused to gather his emotions.
"I still want to play, but I don't think it's the right decision,'' he continued. "I thought about it for a long time. Now is an opportunity to step away with what's going on here.''
Kuechly didn't explain exactly why he can't play fast, physical and strong at this point in his career. What is known is that from 2015 to 2017, the 2013 NFL Defensive Player of the Year missed seven games due to concussions.
He wore an experimental device named the "Q Collar'' around his neck the past three seasons; the inventor claimed it reduced the risk of concussions. Kuechly was last officially ruled out for a concussion after he was carted off the field in tears during a Thursday night game in 2017. He did miss time during training camp for an undisclosed injury, but he later insisted that wasn't a concussion.
Kuechly said his final farewell from his favorite place besides the field, the linebackers room at Bank of America Stadium where he watched countless hours of film to be one of the best linebackers in the NFL.
"I think now is the right chance for me to move on," Kuechly said. "It makes me sad because I love playing this game -- I've played it since I was a kid. It's my favorite thing in the world to do. The memories I have from this place and this organization and being on the field with these guys -- they'll never go away
Former Carolina coach Ron Rivera, who selected Kuechly out of Boston College with the ninth pick of the 2012 draft, expressed to ESPN.com via text that it was good Kuechly gets to "go out on his own terms.''
"One of the really good, young men to play the game, and I am proud to be able to say I got to coach him,'' wrote Rivera, now the head coach of the Washington Redskins.
Rivera was fired with four games left in the regular season, and Baylor coach Matt Rhule recently was hired to replace him. Kuechly said his decision had nothing to do with the coaching change.
Owner David Tepper praised the "tremendous impact'' Kuechly has had on the organization.
"In my two seasons with Luke, I quickly recognized how special of a person he is,'' Tepper said in a statement. "The respect he gives and garners from others as well as the positive impact he has on his peers is second to none.
"It's obviously going to be very difficult for all of us because we know that no player can replace what he's been for this organization for the last eight years. His presence can't be replicated.


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