Former Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin expressed empathy for Andrew Luck, calling the criticism his former Stanford teammate is facing “frustrating to watch.”
Luck, the first overall pick out of the 2012 draft, announced his retirement Saturday after seven season with the league. The decision came after he missed nine games in 2015 and the entire 2017 season with various injuries. ESPN reported that Luck made the decision partly because he’s “mentally worn down.”
“It’s a point in life that I think everybody reaches, whether you’re in sports, entertainment or at a desk job or at a factory,” Baldwin told ESPN. “You come to a point where you have to make a decision that is best for your life long-term, and as difficult as that is for people who have been in a realm that has put them on a pedestal, this false affirmation, this false validation that you are a better human being than other people because you catch touchdowns or because you throw touchdowns, it’s hard to pull yourself out of that.”
Luck, who turns 30 next month, said it was “the hardest decision” of his life, while explaining: “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.”
Baldwin can relate to Luck’s situation as the receiver has been in a similar position. Baldwin walked away from the NFL around the same age as Luck after dealing with several injuries. Baldwin explained for him that thoughts of retirement started his second year in the league and that building a family was a big factor in his decision.
“When you’re faced with the decisions of, ‘Well, if I continue to do this, what is my health going to be like when my child is born? When my kids are old enough to run around and play, am I going to be able to enjoy that experience and have that experience that I envision in my head?” Baldwin said. “Am I going to be able to do that?’ So you come to the proverbial fork in the road, as Andrew said, and you have to make a decision.”
Baldwin hasn’t filed paperwork with the league to make his retirement official, ESPN noted, but when asked if he’d consider making a return, he said: “No. I’m done with football.”
“It’s more so that my identity has been wrapped up in football since I was 6 years old,” Baldwin said. “Navigating not having that, not having the instant feedback and the false affirmation of what my value was in the world because I had caught touchdowns on some days, I’m navigating that as a human on a very human level.
“That process has been challenging to say the least, but it’s also been a rewarding one because it’s allowed me to refocus my passions but also to re-understand who I am in the greater scheme of things and how I fit into the world.”