Is there a holy ghost in Andrew Luck's shocking decision to retire? His comments made us wonder

I don’t follow the National Football League closely.

I’m an extremely casual Dallas Cowboys fan. That means I pay attention at playoff time — a sporadic period that, for Jerry Jones’ Cowboys, hasn’t lasted long the past two-plus decades.

However, even a wayward NFL follower couldn’t help but catch the shocking news of Andrew Luck’s retirement.

As always, the holy ghost antennas of GetReligion’s resident sports observers (that would be Terry Mattingly and me) went up when we read some of the reports about the Indianapolis Colts quarterback’s decision.

Religion has, of course, played a role in past surprising exits of professional athletes. You remember Adam LaRoche, right? In 2016, he walked away from a Chicago White Sox contract worth $13 million rather than yield to demands by management that he cut the amount of time his 14-year-old son Drake spent with him and his team.

“Sports fans, you have to be blind as a bat not to see the religion ghost in this one,” tmatt wrote when LaRoche retired.

So what about Luck? Any ghost haunting this bombshell sports moment?

I wondered that as I read Gregg Doyel’s front-page Indianapolis Star column on the QB who gave up millions (how many millions?).

Doyel wrote:

Luck, the most private of public superstars, was opening up in a way he never has, telling us just how hard these last four years have been.

“I’ve been stuck in this process,” he said. “I haven’t been able to live the life I want to live. It’s taken the joy out of this game. After 2016 when I played in pain, and wasn’t regularly able to practice, I made a vow I wouldn’t go down that path again. The only way forward is to remove myself from this cycle. I came to the proverbial fork in the road, and made a vow if I ever did again I would choose me, in a sense.”

And later in the Star column:

And it’s true: Andrew Luck is not like most people. He never played football for the money. He played it for the joy, and he’s telling us the joy is gone.

Is there a God-sized hole in that joy? Often, when your GetReligionistas start digging behind the scenes, that turns out to be the case.

But in this case? There’s a chance that the story isn’t haunted at all.

According to a website called Celeb Investigator:

Luck is very private about his beliefs and he seems to not be religious. He hasn’t made any references to his religion or to God in his interviews.

But that information may not be entirely — or at all — accurate.

Luck has a Catholic background, as “The Deacon’s Bench” blogger Deacon Greg Kandra points out at his site:

When the quarterback announced his retirement this weekend, it rocked the NFL. 

Many will debate about what led to this decision, and what comes next. Maybe, just maybe, God has something else planned.

One thing that hasn’t been widely noted is the role of faith in his life. Andrew Luck is Catholic — one biography notes that he was involved in his parish’s youth group as a teenager — and he spoke a bit about faith and service at a Catholic Charities fundraiser five years ago: 

“We are all called to serve,” Luck said in an Archdiocese of Indianapolis article to which Kandra linked.

Is there a holy ghost in Luck’s story? Could it be that he sees a higher calling for himself outside football? With someone as private as Luck, definitive answers seem difficult to come by.

But stay tuned.

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