When the NFL season resumes, things will look much different in Carolina. The Panthers, of course, have replaced head coach Ron Rivera with Matt Rhule. Cam Newton is a free agent, and Luke Kuechly has retired. Football fans, however, might be seeing the linebacker sooner rather than later.
In a recent interview, Kuechly explained that he wanted to stay close to football. While moving to the broadcast booth isn’t a forgone concussion, the linebacker seems to have the tools to thrive behind the microphone.
Luke Kuechly’s sudden retirement
While professional football may pay well, the game takes an incredible toll on every player’s body. Carolina Panthers linebacker Luke Leuchly learned that reality firsthand.
At the end of the 2019 NFL season, the veteran suddenly announced his retirement. “I think now is the right chance for me to move on,” the linebacker explained. “In my heart, I know it’s the right thing to do. There’s only one way to play this game since I was a little kid—play fast, play physical, and play strong. And at this point, I don’t know if I am able to do that anymore.”
While he didn’t explain why he couldn’t play his game anymore, it’s safe to assume that injuries played a part in Kuechly’s decision. The linebacker suffered three officially diagnosed concussions during his career and had multiple shoulder surgeries. That’s more than enough to warrant calling it a career.
The linebacker isn’t done with football, though
Come the fall, Luke Kuechly won’t be donning his helmet and strapping on the pads. That doesn’t mean he’s done with football, though.
“I love the game of football, I love everything about it, I love the studying aspect, I love the team aspect … I’m gonna miss the interaction, the guys, you know, every day,” Kuechly told Mike Tirico on NBC Sports. “I know when the season comes around I’m going to have that pit in my stomach knowing that, man, I wish I was still out there, but I think you look at it in the sense that you have a long life to live, what’s the best thing for right now? You have to make hard decisions in your life, I think this is one of the harder ones I’ve had to make. Hopefully, I can find a way to stay involved in football somehow.”
While coaching is a possibility, the linebacker also mentioned heading upstairs to the broadcast booth as a potential option. “I think when guys come in on Fridays and Saturdays, and you talk to the production crew, you talk to guys like [Jason] Witten and guys that have played, like [Tony] Romo, and Ronde [Barber] … Those guys, you can tell that they played at a high level and they still have the ability to stay involved with the game,” Kuechly continued. “I think that part is something that’s attractive to me.”
Luke Kuechly has the mind of a star broadcaster
Whether he joins a coaching staff, front office, or broadcast booth, Luke Kuechly will surely be able to stay close to football. It this offseason has shown us anything, though, it’s that the final option could bring him a massive payday.
Looking at Tony Romo’s new contract and Drew Brees’ forward-looking deal, it’s clear that networks are willing to pay a premium for on-air talent. While Kuechly hasn’t stepped behind the microphone yet, he certainly seems like a natural fit. The linebacker not only has the knowledge—he studied plenty of film and could name every starter in his division—but he brings a new perspective to the booth. Booger McFarland, for all of his flaws, helped fans see the game through the eyes of a lineman; Keuchley could bring a more articulate defensive mindset to the broadcast.
One of Romo’s biggest strengths is the ability to break down a play, often before it even happens, both concisely and understandably. Based on his NFL career and knowledge, Luke Keuchley should have the same gift and ability to shine as an NFL broadcaster.