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Panthers' 28-Year-Old Linebacker Luke Kuechly Stuns NFL With Retirement

Tammy Anthony Baker
Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly made the surprising announcement Tuesday evening that he is retiring.

Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly stunned the NFL on Tuesday night with an annoucement on Twitter that the 28-year-old is retiring from professional football.

Kuechly, an eight-year veteran who has played his entire career for the Panthers, did not give a specific reason for his retirement in the 3 minute, 35 second video where he appeared close to tears on several occasions. But he has a history of concussions and said, "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, is to play fast and play physical and play strong," Kuechly said in the video. "At this point, I'm not sure if I'm able to do that anymore. That's the part that is most difficult. I still want to play, but I don't think it's the right decision."

The middle linebacker is a seven-time Pro Bowl selection and was named Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2012 and Defensive Player of the Year in 2013. A fan favorite in Charlotte, he was often greeted by bellows of "Luuuuuuuke" when he made a standout play.

Kuechly added that he hopes to still be involved in football, but did not give further details.

NFL players from across the country were quick to offer praise and well wishes to Kuechly via Twitter.

Jodie Valade has been a Digital News and Engagement Editor for WFAE since 2019. Since moving to Charlotte in 2015, she has worked as a digital content producer for NASCAR.com and a freelance writer for publications ranging from Charlotte magazine to The Athletic to The Washington Post and New York Times. Before that, Jodie was an award-winning sports features and enterprise reporter at The Plain Dealer in Cleveland, Ohio. She also worked at The Dallas Morning News covering the Dallas Mavericks — where she became Mark Cuban's lifelong email pen pal — and at The Kansas City Star. She has a Bachelor of Science in Journalism from Northwestern University and a Master of Education from John Carroll University. She is originally from Rochester Hills, Michigan.