The news leaked out during the Colts preseason game that their star quarterback, 29-year-old Andrew Luck, was announcing his retirement from the NFL after 6 seasons filled with superb play, injuries, and more injuries.
In a world that promotes fame, success, and money — it took great courage for Luck to step out of the mold the world put him in and choose his own path. While many are defending Luck’s decision as a personal choice, the reaction from scores of fans and sports commentators alike reveals culture’s warped view of our purpose in life.
Colts fans initially reacted to the news in a pretty despicable fashion. They booed:
Radio host Doug Gottlieb cracked that Luck’s choice was the “most millennial thing ever” in a tweet that went viral.
This sentiment has been echoed many times, and thankfully there are several voices stepping up to support Luck’s decision. But the mere fact that so many people reacted to this news with such disappointment and shock to someone choosing their mental/physical health over fame/fortune reveals America’s distorted view of life, money, fame, and success. Luck may have the physical ailments, but it’s America who is in dire need of rehab.
People angry about the Colts near future and perhaps their own fantasy football teams demise if they selected Luck in their draft — as OJ Simpson, of all people, did — need a serious heart-check.
I get it, people on the screen don’t feel like real life. It’s easy to joke or complain about someone we’ll likely never see or meet in person. This excuse, however, simply doesn’t cut it.
First, especially for parents, we are to set an example for our children. We’re called to repeat the words God has given us in the Bible and talk about them “when you’re at home or away, when you lie down or get up. Write them down, and tie them around your wrist, and wear them as headbands as a reminder. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates,” as the text reads in Deuteronomy 6.
What message are we sending to our children if we sit in front of our TV’s and yell at a guy who is choosing his health and mental sanity over a lucrative career in the NFL? The message is quite clear — you are foolish for turning down millions of dollars, continued fame and success.
That verse in Deuteronomy describes a life where we’re not just soaking up God’s Word on Sunday. We should be looking for every opportunity to explain what God values and wants for our lives.
If you used Andrew Luck’s sudden retirement announcement as an opportunity to seriously complain about your fantasy football misfortune, or name-call because you think he should stick around to help your favorite team be better — you’re missing the boat completely. In some severe cases, I’d suggest it’s time to repent.
Some called Luck weak for “quitting” in his prime. My question, which I believe is a great question in most conversations, is simply: by what standard?
What does one use to define what is “weak” and what is “strong”? Personally, I don’t believe placing your own life at risk to stockpile millions of dollars (when you already have millions of dollars) is very strong at all. Actually, it’s just dumb.
Luck has a bachelor’s degree in architectural design, is married, and it was recently made public that the couple is expecting their first child. Given the plethora of injuries he’s suffered, the amount of wealth he’s already amassed, his family considerations, and just his own desire not to put himself through the abuse — how can anyone possibly fault him for this choice? And for those who do, let’s be clear: he doesn’t owe you or your fantasy team anything. He doesn’t even owe you the explanation that he doesn’t owe you anything.
Culture is obsessed with money and fame and puts such a premium on achieving one or both that people are baffled when someone sets it aside.
I interviewed MLB legend Darryl Strawberry several years ago and asked him about an interview he’d given to a major news outlet in which the host seemingly mocked his modest home. The host simply couldn’t believe how Strawberry could be content in life living in non-lavish settings, and not have all his baseball accomplishments on full display. Strawberry (now a pastor) laughed and shrugged his shoulders, explaining that the world just doesn’t get it. Strawberry famously battled drug addiction throughout his career, is now sober and happily married, and a pastor ministering to other people caught in addiction. God saved his life, is now using him to save the lives of others, and he’s happily married after two failed attempts. And the world wonders why Strawberry isn’t still clinging on to his past baseball success.
This is why it’s more critical now than ever to be vigilant when we minister to one another and especially to our children. If we leave the teaching to culture, this is what we’ll end up with — millions of people who think the main purpose in life is to be successful, achieve fame and get rich. While none of those things are in and of themselves bad, if our sole pursuit in life is to achieve one or all of these three then we’ve failed.
Andrew Luck just demonstrated he has something most don’t: the courage to disregard culture’s expectations of him. They’re not the ones putting their health on the line. They’re not the ones risking everything with a child on the way. So many people, however, are people pleasers and will continue in something they know they shouldn’t just because it’s what’s expected of them.
Since we’re to teach others from when we rise up and when we lie down, I’m going to use this opportunity to teach my kids about character, courage, and priorities. Find the things that truly matter in life and follow them at all costs.
We all like to say we believe that — but by his actions, Andrew Luck proved he does.
Maybe he’ll return someday, maybe he won’t. But God bless him and his family going forward in whatever path they choose.