A Bears player explained why more NFL players will want to retire early — and then Andrew Luck went through with it

Andrew Luck is one of several NFL players to retire early this year.

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Andrew Luck is one of several NFL players to retire early this year.
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Andy Lyons/Getty

  • Andrew Luck shocked the NFL world on Saturday by announcing he was retiring.
  • In March, Chicago Bears cornerback Prince Amukamara told Business Insider that he believes fewer players want to play 15-20 years and more players will retire early.
  • Amukamara said players today want to make as much money as they can, win as much as they can, then get out of the league relatively early.
  • Luck’s reasons for retiring followed Amukamara’s explanation.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Andrew Luck shocked the NFL world on Saturday when he announced he would be retiring from football.

Luck said he was “mentally worn down” from the injuries he had suffered, trying to rehab, and the preparation it took to get on the field.

“I’ve been stuck in this process,” Luck told reporters. “I haven’t been able to live the life I want to live. It’s taken the joy out of this game … the only way forward for me is to remove myself from football.”

Read more: Andrew Luck is retiring from the NFL at age 29 because he is ‘mentally worn down’

While Luck’s retirement came as a shock, the writing may have been on the wall. In March, while speaking to Business Insider about running back Le’Veon Bell’s decision to sit out the 2018 season to preserve his body and future contract value, Chicago Bears cornerback Prince Amukamara said that more and more players might retire early.

Prince Amukamara says NFL players' priorities have changed.

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Prince Amukamara says NFL players’ priorities have changed.
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Leon Halip/Getty Images

“I don’t know if the goal right now is to play 15-20 years for a lot of guys,” Amukamara said. “I think guys wanna bust their butt and do as much as they can and earn as much as they can and win as much as they can. But I also believe guys are listening to their bodies. They’re checking the engine.

“I think guys are starting to value their relationships with their kids, and I think guys have a lot of aspirations off the field that they wanna accomplish. Even though football has helped them get there, yeah, I don’t think guys just are trying to play 15-20 years.”

NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport tweeted that Luck wants to travel the world. Luck also famously runs a book club and has other interests beyond the game. As he said in his retirement press conference, because of injuries and rehab and pain, he couldn’t live the life he wanted to live.

Amukamara noted that in recent years, the NFL has seen talented players retire earlier than expected. This was before Rob Gronkowski (29), Doug Baldwin (30), and Luck all decided to retire.

“Look at Calvin Johnson, right? He was still in his prime. Look at Patrick Willis,” Amukamara said. “Even on the [49ers], if you remember Chris Borland … He was supposed to be the guy since Patrick Willis left. I remember when we played against him when I was with New York, he picked us off twice, and I’m thinking, ‘Wow this guy’s about to be a player,’ and then, come offseason, he’s like, ‘Yeah…'”

Borland played just two seasons in the NFL before retiring due to concerns about concussions and brain trauma. He has since become involved in helping former players and military veterans dealing with brain trauma.

The wave of retirements seemingly run counter to Tom Brady’s stance. Brady, at 42, maintains he wants to try to play to 45 years old. He believes that with better science and a better understanding of the body, he, and other players, can play longer.

Several players supported Luck’s decision and criticized the fans at Lucas Oil Stadium who booed Luck upon learning of his retirement.

Read more: Andrew Luck booed by Colts fans as he walks off field after news of his shocking retirement becomes public

To Amukamara, players’ understandings of their bodies and ability to maximize their earnings mean they don’t have to play for a decade-plus to be set up for life.

“You wanna take care of your career, you know how much your earning power is, you know how fast your window is closing,” he said. “Guys are just starting to see that and take advantage of it.”