SportsPulse: USA TODAY Sports’ Dan Wolken reacts to the news that Andrew Luck will retire from the NFL and explains why we should all be understanding of this decision.
ARLINGTON, Texas — Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett called the retirement “stunning.”
Quarterback Dak Prescott said it was unfair to form an opinion without knowing what was going through Andrew Luck’s mind.
And Cowboys owner Jerry Jones gave the Colts quarterback who retired abruptly Saturday night an endorsement for the future.
“I hope he becomes President of the United States,” Jones said from the bowels of AT&T Stadium after the Cowboys’ 34-0 preseason win over the Houston Texans.
“To play football and everything that’s involved in playing this game, you’ve got to have your mind and heart not only committed to completely buying into, completely doing it, but you’ve got to almost be over-committed to doing it because you get so many No’s,” Jones said. “You get so many No’s. Everybody does that plays this game. No’s are everywhere.
“So to step back away from this thing, I honor him. I think a lot of his family, I think a lot of his father, I think a lot of what he’s brought to football and wish him nothing but the very best.”
Jones expressed his admiration for the “complete player” Luck was since the Colts drafted him first overall in 2012. “Every snap you thought he was capable of doing it to you,” Jones said. Luck and the Colts shut out the Cowboys 23-0 in December, the teams’ most recent matchup.
Prescott remembers. He said Saturday night that he followed Luck closely through college at Stanford and across Luck’s seven seasons as a professional. Luck’s “one of the best competitors,” Prescott said. “Sometimes people forget how athletic he is.”
But Prescott, who turned 26 last month, declined to opine on Luck’s decision to leave the game weeks before his 30th birthday and with millions on the table.
Prescott has seen his share of quarterbacks’ careers derailed by injury: He became a starting quarterback at the high school, college and pro level each when a play-caller ahead of him was injured. Prescott never relinquished any of the three positions. In 2016, when Tony Romo delivered a speech about Prescott supplanting him as Cowboys quarterback, Romo described his back-to-back injury campaigns as “a dark place.”
“Probably the darkest it’s ever been,” Romo said months before retiring at age 36. “You’re sad and down and out, and you ask yourself: ‘Why did this have to happen?’ It’s in this moment that you find out who you really are and what you’re really about.”
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, after reports of his retirement, leaves Lucas Oil Stadium to boos. Aug. 24, 2019
Matt Kryger, IndyStar
Luck explained similarly Saturday the “unceasing, unrelenting” rehabilitation process from injuries to his shoulder, calf, ankle and head.
“I felt stuck in it,” Luck said, “and the only way I see out is to no longer play football. It’s taken my joy of this game away.”
Prescott said he respects Luck’s decision and Luck “so much.”
“I mean, hell of a player. Hell of a player and hell of a guy the little bit I know of him,” Prescott said. “Being able to talk to him a little bit before a game and share little things. Respect him so so much on the field, off the field. It’s his decision. Everyone’s entitled to that. I don’t think it’s fair for any of us to make any opinions on what he has going on.
“Just know he was one of my favorite players to watch around the league and learn little things from, so I hate to see a great player like that leave the game, but like I said, don’t know the details, don’t want to speak on that. I’m not entitled to an opinion on that.”
Cowboys players took to Twitter after Colts fans booed Luck on his way out of Lucas Oil Stadium.
“Fans … are human,” Cowboys cornerback Chidobe Awuzie tweeted. “I know you love your teams, but try to understand someone’s story. I feel bad for Andrew Luck who’s done more than anyone can imagine to get healthy, getting booed at his home crowd.”
Cornerback Byron Jones called the boos “truly disgusting.”
Follow Jori Epstein on Twitter @JoriEpstein.