Carolina Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly has announced his retirement from professional football after eight seasons.
The 28-year-old made the surprising announcement in a video on the Panthers’ Twitter account saying it was the right time for him to walk away from the game.
“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.”
Kuechly was selected ninth overall by Carolina in the 2012 NFL Draft earning seven Pro Bowl nominations while also winning the NFL Defensive rookie of the year award and the Defensive Player of the year award in 2013.
He finished his career as the Panthers’ leading tackler with 1,092 which are the most in the NFL since he entered the league as well as 18 career interceptions which are the most among linebackers since 2012.
The Cincinnati native has dealt with some tough injuries the past couple of seasons including off-season shoulder surgery in 2018. He was also named to the 2020 Pro Bowl with teammate Christian McCaffrey.