Panthers LB Luke Kuechly makes stunning retirement announcement

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Carolina Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly made a stunning announcement Tuesday evening that he plans to retire after eight seasons.



The 28-year-old Kuechly made the surprising announcement Tuesday night in a video posted on the team's website. He said, "I think now is the right chance to move on."

"Beyond his extraordinary performance on the field, Luke has had a tremendous impact on this organization and region," owner David Tepper said on the team's website. "In my two seasons with Luke, I quickly recognized how special of a person he is. The respect he gives and garners from others as well as the positive impact he has on his peers is second to none. It's obviously going to be very difficult for all of us because we know that no player can replace what he's been for this organization for the last eight years. His presence can't be replicated."

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Kuechly was selected to seven Pro Bowls and was a first-team All-Pro five times. However, he suffered three concussions during his career, which may have led to his decision.





Kuechly was in tears when he was carted off the field after a concussion during the 2016 season, a striking moment that highlighted the NFL's ongoing problem with brain injuries.

"It makes me sad because I love playing this game," Kuechly said. " I've played it since I was a kid. It's my favorite thing to do in the world. The memories I have from this place and this organization and being on the field with these guys, they will never go away. There's only one way to play this game since I was a little kid - play fast, play physical and play strong. At this point, I don't know if I am able to do that anymore."

Panthers tight end Greg Olsen was among several teammates and NFL players to pay tribute to Kuechly on their Twitter accounts.



Kuechly finishes his career with 1,092 tackles, which is the most by any player since coming into the league in 2012 as a first round pick out of Boston College.

"It's a tough decision. I've thought about it a lot and I think now is the right chance for me to move on. It makes me sad because I love playing this game," Kuechly said. "I've played it since I was a little kid. It's my favorite thing in the world to do. The memories I have from this place and organization and playing on the field with these guys...they'll never go away."



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