Sports | January 15, 2020 9:27 am

Luke Kuechly Retiring From NFL After 8 Seasons With Carolina Panthers

Kuechly's retirement from the Panthers is part of a broader shift that's underway in Carolina

Luke Kuechly Retiring From NFL After 8 Seasons With Carolina Panthers
Luke Kuechly #of the Carolina Panthers before a game. (Jacob Kupferman/Getty)
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After a distinguished career that saw him make seven Pro Bowls in eight seasons, 28-year-old Carolina Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly is retiring from the NFL.

Kuechly, who was voted a first-team All-Pro five times, made the announcement via the team’s official Twitter account.

“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, and that’s the part that is the most difficult. I still want to play, but I don’t think it’s the right decision.”

A former standout at Boston College who was drafted in the first round in 2012, Kuechly suffered three (diagnosed) concussions during his career, which certainly may have been a factor in his decision to hang up his spikes. A fan favorite in Carolina, Kuechly finishes his career with 1,092 tackles

Kuechly’s retirement from the Panthers is just part of a broader shift that is underway in Carolina.

After nearly a decade coaching the Panthers, Ron Rivera was fired during the season and his replacement, former Baylor head coach Matt Rhule, was hired last week.

While it’s unclear what Rhule wants to do, it is entirely possible that longtime quarterback Cam Newton, who missed nearly all of last season with an injury and was ineffective when he did play, will not be back with the Panthers.

Even if Newton is back, the team clearly now belongs to running back Christian McCaffrey, who was named to the NFL All-Pro team at two positions, not to the 30-year-old quarterback.

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