Luke Kuechly just made the shocking announcement that he is retiring from the NFL.

Arguably the best linebacker in the NFL over the last decade, Kuechly broke the news in a video released by the Carolina Panthers—the only NFL team he has played for since entering the league as the No. 9 pick in the 2012 NFL Draft.

Kuechly stressed that his decision has nothing to do with recent changes in the Carolina Panthers organization. He even made it a point to say that new head coach Matt Rhule is going to "do a fantastic job."

I’ve been fortunate enough to have the opportunity to play this game since I was in fourth grade, and I’ve been with the Panthers now for eight years. It’s never the right time to step away, but now is the right time for me.

At only 28 years old, Kuechly has already piled up accolades as a five-time first-team All-Pro and seven Pro Bowl selections. He was also named NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2013—the same year he helped lead his team to the NFC Championship.

For me, now is the right opportunity to move in a different direction. 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, and at this point, I don’t know if I’m able to do that anymore. I still wanna play but I don’t think it’s the right decision. I’ve thought about it for a long time and I think now is an opportunity for me to step away with what’s going on here.

Even though Kuechly has been a rivaled thorn in our side since entering the league, as a Saints fan I respect his talent and will miss the cat and mouse battles between him and Brees twice a year as NFC South rivals.

Best of luck to Luke, and we wish you well in retirement.

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