In addition to punching a huge hole in the middle of the defense and costing the team a boatload of dead money, Kuechly’s retirement serves as a devastating reminder of just how dangerous the game is and how quickly some careers can end, even for the most skilled athletes around.
Carolina’s backup linebackers will feel the sting of his exit as much as anyone. Jermaine Carter Jr. shared a tweet on Wednesday that summed it up well. It seems recent events have given him some perspective.
First, Kuechly leaving at this point in his career should probably not have come as much of a shock as it was. After all, he’s not the first linebacker to go out like this. Patrick Willis and Chris Borland both hung it up early, as well. Apparently, Kuechly had been considering this for a while, according to the Athletic. Good health matters more than anything and considering his history of concussions Kuechly made the right choice, even if it means walking away from tens of millions of dollars. At the end of the day, Carter is playing one of the most grueling positions in an inherently violent game and that’s going to take its toll.
As for Lynch, it certainly sounds like he’s also played his last game of football. After his Seahawks lost to the Packers on Sunday in the divisional playoffs, he exchanged jerseys with college teammate Aaron Rodgers and then offered some wise words of advice for young players: mainly take care of “your bodies, your mentals and your chicken” (money). Lynch has been famously frugal with his earnings and players like Carter (and perhaps some unnamed bloggers) would do well to follow his example.
Finally, like everything else that’s on Netflix, I have already watched the Aaron Hernandez documentary. This is one of the darkest chapters in the history of the sport but to see his story portrayed in this fashion puts it all in a different kind of light. Many of the documentary’s details are already public knowledge. However, there are some new revelations. The series is equally chilling and heartbreaking and is essential viewing, especially for fans of both football and true crime.