On Saturday, the Indianapolis Colts’ franchise quarterback Andrew Luck announced his retirement from the NFL. Luck, 29, claimed he was being “mentally worn down” from all of the injuries he has sustained throughout his career.
In 2012, Luck was the first overall pick out of Stanford and has been a stud on the field since. The only issue Luck had was the Colts never built a sturdy offensive line to block for him. In his seven year career, he has sustained concussions, a lacerated kidney, and lingering shoulder and labrum issues that sidelined him for the entire 2017 season, and now a calf injury that has spread all the way to his ankle.
Indianapolis’ new front office and coaching staff has made building Luck’s offensive line a priority but unfortunately, it was too late. Luck has been battered time and time again and has now reached his breaking point.
When the news broke, the Colts were hosting the Chicago Bears for a preseason game and the news caused an eruption from the fans. A mix of anger and disappointment immediately filled the atmosphere of Lucas Oil Stadium as the newly retired Luck stood casually next to his teammate and now heir apparent, Jacoby Brissett. As the game ended and the team made their way towards the locker room, many Colts fans booed Luck as he walked out of Lucas Oil for the final time.
As videos of Colts fans booing their former franchise signal caller surfaced, Twitter went in to a frenzy using words like “classless”, “disgraceful”, and “ridiculous” to describe Colts fans for booing one of the best quarterbacks the franchise has ever had.
It did not take long for Luck’s scenario to draw comparisons to Vontae Davis, who retired after playing one half of football for the Buffalo Bills. Davis, 30 (at the time), was slated to start at cornerback alongside Tre’Davious White. Davis was a healthy scratch in the Bills’ season-opener against the Baltimore Ravens but started in the Bills’ home-opener against the Los Angeles Chargers. At halftime of the week two match up, Davis informed the coaching staff that he would not be finishing the game with the team and that he is retiring from football.
After the game, Davis claimed that he could not continue playing football physically or mentally. Despite having a good reason to retire, Bills fans were already irate that Davis had made them a laughing stock on social media and more importantly that they quit on their team and their city.
Davis’ decision may have been taken lightly in another city, but his actions during halftime of the Chargers game went against the entire culture of Buffalo. The city of Buffalo is a blue-collar city where everything is earned and the only thing that Buffalonians love more than wings is their Buffalo Bills.
That being said, Bills fans did not take kindly to Davis’ sudden decision and many fans took to social media to display their frustrations. Even to this day, almost a calendar year later, several salty fans still appear in Davis’ comments of his personal social media posts. While it is encouraged to not harass players, Davis’ actions were a bit unfavorable.
When Luck retired, several sports personalities were quick to point fingers at Bills fans, beckoning the question of how Luck’s retirement was different than what Davis did in 2018, some even calling Bills fans hypocrites to shame booing Colts fans. While a comparison can be made, the difference is quite simple. Andrew Luck did not give up on the team.
For starters, the Indianapolis front office has known that Luck was mulling retirement for weeks, giving them plenty of time to forge a contingency plan for the 2019 season and beyond. Luck has clearly given this topic a great deal of thought, something that can not be said regarding Davis’ situation.
Next, we look at player production. Luck has led the Colts on several solid playoff runs during his tenure with the Colts. Meanwhile, Davis put on a one half performance for Bills fans that was lousy at best. It is the general understanding that Bills fans took offense from Davis’ actions because he knew what he was getting himself into.
To dive deeper, Davis had all offseason to gauge where his mind and body were at. He could have easily noticed that he was not performing at his usual level during mini camp, training camp, or even preseason. But no, Davis pushed on in to the regular season with Buffalo and quit midway through a game. That is what did not settle right with Bills fans. If Davis had even finished out the rest of the game, the entire debacle would have changed entirely. Would Bills fans still have been angry? Probably at least a few, but the level of irritation that this situation got would have been far less if Davis had finished the game.
Not only did Davis quit on the team and the city at halftime of a regular season game, he did so wearing a number 22 jersey, a jersey number worn by longtime Buffalo favorite, Fred Jackson. When Davis was signed, many speculated if the number 22 should even be in circulation. This minor detail only adds to the already poor taste left in the mouth of every Bills fan.
To put this debate to rest, yes, Andrew Luck’s and Vontae Davis’ situations are different and no, Bills fans are not hypocrites for getting angry at Davis but jumping to Luck’s defense.