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BALL FIVE: It’s a vicious game

I was all set to give my big yippie about high school sports getting going in all the sports this week, but that’s a little redundant to any of you readers who have perused Ball Five for any of that last 20-some years. You already know I’m excited about this week.
But, something came up this weekend that has been eating at my craw. That’s the public and media response to Indianapolis Colts quarterback suddenly deciding to retire at 29 years old, less than two weeks before the start of the new NFL season.
The immediate reaction was, well tragic for the lack of a better word. When it was announced at the Colts’ preseason game this weekend a whole lot of fans started booing their quarterback. Then the talking heads piped in with opinions that ranged from Luck being cowardly to being courageous. They ranged from those wondering how he could let his team down and leave them hanging with the season so close to those saying they understood and felt for him.
Me, I think Luck did what he had to do because it was time.
Football is a cruel mistress. She doesn’t care about her lovers. She uses them and gets everything she can out of them. When she is done beating them to a pulp, she chews them up and spits them out. Countless players have been wrung threw her heartless wringer.
Look, it happens all the time. Sometimes it happens at the most inopportune time, like with Luck. The time wasn’t right for his teammates, his coaches or his organization. It definitely wasn’t right for the Colts’ fans, most of whom only care about what their team and player do for them anyway. Football fans are as selfish as the game is cruel.
In case you’re wondering, here’s the list of injuries Luck suffered playing football. He had torn cartilage in two ribs, a partially torn abdomen, a lacerated kidney, a concussion (one diagnosed anyway), a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder and this season’s calf and ankle injury.
Don’t think for a second that Luck woke up the other day and suddenly decided he’s had enough. He has been suffering and rehabilitating and needing pain killers for most of his six-year career. That’s six years with five major injuries and at least one concussion.
If you ask me, Andrew Luck did not retire from football as much as football the mistress is done using him.