The NFL has lost another one of its stars to early retirement.
Carolina Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly has announced his retirement from professional football after eight seasons.
He finished his career as the Panthers' leading tackler with 1,092 which are the most in the NFL since he entered the league as well as 18 career interceptions which are the most among linebackers since 2012.
Through his decorated career, Kuechly was a seven-time Pro Bowler, five-time first-team All Pro, 2013 NFL Defensive Player of the Year and 2012 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year.
But Kuechly later said he wasn't concerned about concussions affecting his future.
"I still want to play but I don't think it's the right decision", Kuechly said while holding back tears.
"There's only one way to play this game, since I was a little kid, is to play fast and play physical and play strong", Kuechly said in the video. I've played it since I was a little kid, it's my favorite thing in the world to do.
Luke Kuechly is hanging up his cleats. Other notable players who have retired at the top of their game include Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson and San Francisco 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis. He gave new Panthers coach Matt Rhule a vote of confidence while thanking former Carolina coach Ron Rivera and owner David Tepper.
Kuechly went out of his way to say the coaching change didn't influence his decision.
Why did Luke Kuechly retire?
Kuechly did not expand on any particular ailment that caused him to call it quits.
"People love the team and people love the players", Kuechly said of the fans. "I think we have a really good linebacking room".
Kuechly was consistently regarded as one of the best linebackers in the NFL, known for his study of the game, and is nearly certainly a future member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.