Luke Kuechly stands as one of the NFL’s brightest young stars, and that makes his situation particularly precarious. The Panthers linebacker has already suffered numerous concussions, and at age 25 potentially still has many years ahead of him in the NFL. Those two factors mean that Kuechly is getting plenty of questions about concussions and retirement … and he’s getting a little tired of it all.
Kuechly suffered a scary collision in a Thursday night game against New Orleans, one that left him sobbing on the sideline. As a safety precaution, and given the fact that the Panthers were already out of the playoffs, the team held him out of the remaining games … a decision he didn’t necessarily endorse.
“Everybody knows I wanted to play,” Kuechly said during OTAs on Thursday. “Everybody knows the decision was made by the coaches. So hopefully we can move on from that. I’m not going to answer any more questions about concussions because I’m done with that.”
Kuechly has now missed significant segments of the last two seasons with concussion-related issues. But he has tried to stiff-arm talk of retirement for some time now; late last season, while he was on the sidelines, he held a media conference to update the world on his status. At that time, he dismissed the idea that he could develop long-term problems such as CTE from repeated concussions.
“I’m not worried about that,” Kuechly said at the time. “I think there’s a lot to be learned from it. I think there’s some studies out there that can say that, but I’m not a doctor and I trust what our guys say. I’m going to play football. That’s what I do and that’s what I’d like to do. I’m not concerned with that stuff until someone tells me otherwise.”
Kuechly has another few months before returning to live game action. But once he does, the eyes of Carolina fans and coaches will be on his every hit.
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports and the author of EARNHARDT NATION, on sale now at Amazon or wherever books are sold. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.