It takes more than just luck to know when to retire

By Jeff Solari- Sportschowdah.com For most of us, knowing when to retire is an incredibly difficult decision. I think it’s true in most professions. Teachers. Accountants. Mechanics. Sports media people. You name it. Most of us just don’t know when to hang it up.

There’s little doubt it’s many times harder for professional athletes to succumb to retirement. Just ask Brett Favre, Michael Jordan, and so many other players who should have hung up the cleats sooner.

Tom Brady famously said years ago when asked about retirement “I will retire when I suck.”

Most players, especially in the NFL, don’t have that luxury. If they don’t lose their jobs to younger and more talented people, health concerns are often a major factor when determining when to leave their profession behind.

Saturday Andrew Luck retired at 29 years of age. In doing so he reportedly will leave behind fifty million dollars, a playoff caliber team, and a solid chance at the Hall of Fame.

But due to injuries, Luck has missed a ton of games including the entire 2017 season. He says that he is frustrated and mentally tired from rehab. When he was healthy and on the field he was one of the best we’ve seen.

Check out these stats:

Most passing TDs in first 6 NFL seasons:

Dan Marino 196
Andrew Luck 171
Peyton Manning  167
Russell Wilson 161

Most passing yards in first 6 NFL seasons:

Peyton Manning 24,885
Dan Marino 23,856
Andrew Luck 23,671
Matt Ryan 23,472

There is always a chance he changes his mind in the future, but I wouldn’t bet on it after he was booed walking off the field during the Colts preseason game Saturday night.

Prior to Luck, Barry Sanders is most often mentioned as the guy who stunned the world by retiring early. Through ten seasons in Detroit, he averaged more than 1,500 rushing yards per season and just under 100 rushing yards per game. In 1997, he became the third player to rush for more than 2,000 yards in a season and was named the NFL Most Valuable Player. Two years later at 31 he retired.

Like Luck, Rob Gronkowski also retired at 29 this year. After enduring more surgeries than you can count on both your hands, he packed up his party bus and left Foxboro in the rear view mirror. He will be in the Hall of Fame.

Former Maine Black Bear Mike Devito played nine NFL seasons with the Jets and Chiefs. He retired in in 2016 at the ripe old age of 31. Mike had a solid last season playing in thirteen games and starting five. But he also suffered two concussions.

Kansas City Chiefs defensive end Mike DeVito (70) celebrates after sacking Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) during the second half of an NFL football game in Kansas City, Mo., Sunday, Jan. 3, 2016. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga)

Andy Reid wanted him back at least one more season, but with a wife and two young children, he made the decision to protect his body and brain and come here to raise his family in Maine.

He told the Kansas City Star “I know what we signed up for — it’s a physical game, that’s part of it. At the same time, I can come back from a knee injury and an Achilles’ injury but concussions start changing who you are, and with the effects you can have immediately and down the line, you have to think about it. I was blessed to go however long without any, then I had two in same year. If it’s just me, my decision is probably different. But I have people here that will expect me to be here and be a father and be a husband and a leader of my family.”

Andrew Luck married longtime girlfriend Nicole Pechanec in March of this year. He announced in June that they are expecting their first child. He now has a better chance of being healthy both physically and mentally as the leader of his family full time.

I don’t know how anyone could boo that decision.

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Jeff Solari

About Jeff Solari

Jeff Solari is the president and founder of the Sports Chowdah, Maine’s only free, weekly sports e mail newsletter. Recently, the Mount Desert Island native was the co-host of "The Drive" on 92.9 FM in Bangor.