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The new norm? | The Snap on Lu...
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The new norm? | The Snap on Luke Kuechly's retirement at 28

Jake O'Donnell
Jake O'Donnell

14:02 18 Jan 2020

The retirement of Luke Kuechly at 28 and after just eight seasons in the NFL is increasingly becoming the norm for those on the frontlines of the sport's concussion issue.

With his finances set and the linebacker a "nailed on Hall of Famer", Off The Ball's The Snap discussed how 'early retirements' are becoming par for the course due to the fear of concussion's effects on later life.

A five-time All-Pro and with seven Pro-Bowl appearances in eight years, Kuechly undoubtedly had a lot more to give in his career.

"It's a generational thing as well, players who wanted to make this decision 10, 20, 30 years ago couldn't because they didn't have the money to do it," The Snap's Ronan Mullen pointed out.

"These guys, the likes of [Andrew] Luck and Kuechly, have made enough money that they can put their health first. The NFL are going to have to address this if they are going to start losing star players on the regular. That can't happen, that's not sustainable."

However, analyst on The Snap, Cian Fahey, argued that players retiring in their 20s should no longer be viewed as a shock: "I don't think this should be a surprise to people."

"Look, I know he's a superstar he's one of the top linebackers of the league but he's had basically the same career as Patrick Willis. He's had the same career as most linebackers in front of him because linebackers are the running-back of the defence. They don't have long careers.

"Most players don't reach that time period because you are in collisions constantly," he added.

"In terms of Kuechly as an individual, in terms of his specific career, we saw him crying after a concussion a couple of years ago. We've seen him concussed a few times. This was very much anticipated, this was not one of those major shock retirements."

"The League itself is still destroying people's bodies so it's not really something we can say is ever going to change or something we can change the rules and protect these guys, it's a necessary by-product of the sport.

"Literally your specific job at times is to run into a wall at times and blow it up - a wall of bodies - and these are incredible NFL athletes and you are going to get hurt no matter what."

While Ger Gilroy countered that any 28-year-old should have another four years in their sport if things are "going as they should", Fahey theorised the only solution could be a complete restructure of how the game is currently played.

"The only option you have there is to take away helmets and have form tackling and make it more like rugby. That's a very difficult thing to do because then suddenly passing over the middle of the field becomes uncontested and too easy."

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Carolina Panthers Luke Kuechly NFL The Snap

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