While Zach Ertz and Andrew Luck were never on the same NFL team, the two are great friends from their days at Stanford. The two elite NFL talents have remained close over the years, keeping in touch after three collegiate seasons together. Even though they have a strong relationship, Ertz was surprised (along with the rest of the world) to hear of Luck’s recent retirement announcement.
After the initial shock, Ertz became emotional for his friend as he listened to Luck describe his numerous injuries and how his love for the game dwindled.
“It was emotional watching it for me knowing him so personally and knowing how much he loves the game of football,” Ertz said.
Indianapolis fans in attendance booed their star quarterback as he left the field, but Ertz and most others felt no ill will toward one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks. Luck has taken a beating during his NFL career, pushing through a major shoulder injury, a lacerated kidney, a concussion and now, a lower-leg injury. Calling it quits couldn’t have been easy for an elite player under the age of 30, but Luck made the decision he felt was best for him and his family.
“At the end of the day, I’m proud of him,” Ertz said. “I’m happy for him. It feels like he’s at peace with this whole thing, and that’s all I care about.”
Ertz wouldn’t be stunned if Luck’s decision paved the way for other players to take control of their lives and retire early, too.
“There’s probably going to be more guys retiring early than later,” Ertz said. “It’s always better to leave a play too early than a play too late in this game because there’s so much risk that comes along with this sport.”
The decision came as a shock to everyone, but ultimately, the overwhelming feeling for Ertz is happiness. His college pal made a decision that benefits his long-term health, and Ertz fully supports his fellow Stanford standout.
“I’m happy he’s found his clarity,” Ertz said. “He could have played another 10 years if he really wanted to, if he was willing to go through everything again. … But I’m (happier) that he’s found peace in this decision, that he’s able to step away when he wants to on his own terms, instead of on someone else’s terms. He played seven years and had an unbelievable career. One of the most talented players I’ve ever been around.”