I can still vividly picture the scene from one of my all-time favorite TV shows, Boy Meets World, in which Eric Matthews knocks his brother Cory upside the head and says, "Life's tough. Get a helmet."
Well, when you're an NFL quarterback who has spent most of the last four years recovering from one injury or another, perhaps the solution is to take the helmet off. And despite the shameful reactions of his fans, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that decision.
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck sent the entire sports universe into a frenzy on Saturday when he announced that he was retiring from football after six seasons in the league.
Like many of you, I was watching the Florida vs Miami game when the news was first reported on ESPN. I was stunned.
Just weeks earlier, I had told a friend that I believed Luck would finally lead the Colts to an AFC title and a Super Bowl appearance this year. But after the initial shock faded and I took the time to consider all the factors surrounding the matter, I came to realize that Luck's decision honestly isn't that far-fetched at all. In fact, the same decision would probably be celebrated if made by a man outside of the entertainment industry.
In just the last six years, Luck has suffered torn cartilage in two ribs, a partially torn abdomen, a lacerated kidney that left him peeing blood, at least one concussion (that was reported), a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder and a lower leg injury that team doctors never really seemed to fully understand.
Now, consider this: Luck's wife Nicole Pechanec is pregnant with their first child. I'm not a husband or a father and I don't have plans of changing that any time soon. But I do have enough sense to understand this decision was determined to be what is best for Luck's family. He's walking away from the sport that he's passionately given his all to for over half of his life in order to insure that he can give the best version of himself to his wife and their expected child.
We've all heard the horror stories about athletes whose lives were changed forever by injuries. Just last year, Brett Favre shared that he now suffers from short-term memory loss and hopes his grandchildren will not play football.
Kevin Everett, a former tight end for the Buffalo Bills, has never regained his full range of motion after being paralyzed by a hit in the back in 2007. The late Junior Seau, a 12-time Pro Bowl linebacker, was discovered to have suffered from CTE, a neurodegenerative disease caused by repeated injuries to the head, upon studies of his brain tissue following his tragic suicide in 2012.
Sure, such severe injuries aren't going to impact the majority of players, and new rules and regulations have been implemented to help prevent them. But for blatantly injury-prone athletes such as Andrew Luck, who's to say the next hit won't be the one he'll never recover from? As someone who loves the game of football, that was a risk he was willing to take for many years. Now, as a husband and a soon-to-be father, the stakes are simply too high.
Many Colts fans had the gall to boo Luck on Saturday night after learning of his plans to retire. It was one of the saddest displays of humanity I've witnessed within the world of sports in a long time. His obligations are to his family, not his fans. I'll miss watching him play just as much as the next guy, but he owes us nothing. The Colts will likely struggle this fall without their franchise quarterback, but family and health come before sports, and it's not even close. That's just life.
After all, life's tough. Get a helmet.
Brad Crowe is sports editor of the Leader-Call. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.