“In my heart, I know it’s the right thing to do.” pic.twitter.com/mSDyJ0iEMw— Carolina Panthers (@Panthers) January 15, 2020
The 28-year-old Kuechly made the surprising announcement Tuesday night in a video posted on the team's website. He said, "I think now is the right chance to move on."
"Beyond his extraordinary performance on the field, Luke has had a tremendous impact on this organization and region," owner David Tepper said on the team's website. "In my two seasons with Luke, I quickly recognized how special of a person he is. The respect he gives and garners from others as well as the positive impact he has on his peers is second to none. It's obviously going to be very difficult for all of us because we know that no player can replace what he's been for this organization for the last eight years. His presence can't be replicated."
SEE ALSO | Mark Armstrong explains why Luke Kuechly's surprise retirement makes sense
Kuechly was selected to seven Pro Bowls and was a first-team All-Pro five times. However, he suffered three concussions during his career, which may have led to his decision.
There will only be one 59 pic.twitter.com/jWv8w6TCo1— Carolina Panthers (@Panthers) January 15, 2020
Kuechly was in tears when he was carted off the field after a concussion during the 2016 season, a striking moment that highlighted the NFL's ongoing problem with brain injuries.
"It makes me sad because I love playing this game," Kuechly said. " I've played it since I was a kid. It's my favorite thing to do in the world. The memories I have from this place and this organization and being on the field with these guys, they will never go away. There's only one way to play this game since I was a little kid - play fast, play physical and play strong. At this point, I don't know if I am able to do that anymore."
Panthers tight end Greg Olsen was among several teammates and NFL players to pay tribute to Kuechly on their Twitter accounts.
Words can’t describe who Luke Kuechly is as a person, friend, and teammate. We have shared countless memories together both on the field and away from it. I feel honored to be his friend and I’ll always appreciate the impact he has had on my life. Love you buddy pic.twitter.com/0DHYkOwDp1— Greg Olsen (@gregolsen88) January 15, 2020
Kuechly finishes his career with 1,092 tackles, which is the most by any player since coming into the league in 2012 as a first round pick out of Boston College.
"It's a tough decision. I've thought about it a lot and I think now is the right chance for me to move on. It makes me sad because I love playing this game," Kuechly said. "I've played it since I was a little kid. It's my favorite thing in the world to do. The memories I have from this place and organization and playing on the field with these guys...they'll never go away."
One of the Best Teammates I’ve ever had! The 1st person you meet when you come into the locker room. Always told people I’d teach my son to be like you! You’re the model of The Standard! Future HOFer! Proud to call you one of the bros! One heck of a career! Love you bro! LUUUUKE! https://t.co/NcB3MQExMg— Tre Boston (@TreBos10) January 15, 2020
Incredible player and person.— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) January 15, 2020
The game is going to miss you brother! https://t.co/UxKiTkww7S