CHARLOTTE — Linebacker Luke Kuechly of the Carolina Panthers, a first-round pick out of Boston College in 2012, is retiring.
The team reported the news on its web site on Tuesday night,
"I think now is the right chance for me to move on," said Kuechly, 28. "It makes me sad because I love playing this game, I've played it since I was a kid. It's my favorite thing in the world to do. The memories I have from this place and this organization and being on the field with these guys — they'll never go away.
Luke Kuechly announcement
“In my heart, I know it’s the right thing to do.” pic.twitter.com/mSDyJ0iEMw— Carolina Panthers (@Panthers) January 15, 2020
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
I couldn’t be more proud to call you my brother! Congrats on a heck of a career! The game will miss you as much as you miss the game bro! I love you my brother! https://t.co/6jw3C1xeZK— Thomas Davis (@ThomasDavisSDTM) January 15, 2020
Easily one of my favorite teammates and one of the top 3 best players that I’ve seen. Can’t wait to see what’s next for you! https://t.co/zrDa2mo2HU— Torrey Smith (@TorreySmithWR) January 15, 2020
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
Luke kuechly is one of most pure and authentic people i’ve met! He was a great teammate and friend! honored to have played with you! The gridiron will miss your presence but I’m excited to see what the next chapter has for you! love you Bro! #KeepPounding pic.twitter.com/0a6k4urcRu— Jonathan Stewart (@Jonathanstewar1) January 15, 2020
Incredible player and person. The game is going to miss you brother! https://t.co/UxKiTkww7S— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) January 15, 2020
Thank you for some of the best memories both on and off the field. I’m so honored to have shared the field with not just the best player I’ve ever seen, but the best person I’ve ever met. Will always love you bro! To retirement🍻🎣@LukeKuechly— Christian McCaffrey (@CMC_22) January 15, 2020
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"In my heart I know it's the right thing to do… There's only one way to play this game since I was a little kid — play fast, play physical and play strong. And at this point I don't know if I am able to do that anymore."
Kuechly's resume includes seven Pro Bowl nods, seven AP All-Pro selections with five on the first team, the Defensive Player of the Year award (2013) and the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year award (2012).
He finishes his career with 1,092 tackles, the most in the NFL since he entered the league. His 18 interceptions are most by a linebacker since 2012 and third-most in franchise history. His 75 tackles for loss are tied for fifth among linebackers over that span.