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Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

29-year-old Colts QB Andrew Luck retired from the NFL on Saturday night, saying constant injuries have taken away his love for the game.

Why it matters: This is the most shocking retirement American sports has seen since the 1990s, when Barry Sanders quit football at age 30 (1999) and Michael Jordan left the NBA for the first time (1993).

"For the last four years or so, I've been in this cycle of injury, pain, rehab — injury, pain, rehab — and it's been unceasing, unrelenting. I felt stuck in it, and the only way I see out is to no longer play football. It's taken my joy of this game away."
I've come to the proverbial fork in the road, and I made a vow to myself that if I ever did again, I'd choose me, in a sense. ... This is not an easy decision. It's the hardest decision of my life. But it is the right decision for me."
— Andrew Luck's retirement statement

The big picture: 29-year-old quarterbacks don't just leave the NFL — especially those on track to earn as much as $500 million in future salary and end their careers as all-time greats.

  • Add in the surreal scene on Saturday — news broke on Twitter during the Colts-Bears game, forcing Luck to make the announcement at a hastily-assembled press conference rather than on Sunday, as originally planned — and you have a rare "where were you when…" moment.

What they're saying:

  • "People walk away from lucrative careers ... or stress-filled jobs .... because they realize that what once seemed so appealing was now getting in the way of real happiness and fulfillment. ... Money won't buy you happiness but it can buy you freedom, and so Luck, with all his millions, exercised his." (Dan Wetzel, Yahoo Sports)
  • "There are basically two ways to react upon learning the news of an athletic retirement: aww or whoa! The first reaction goes out with love for the world's graceful agers … Others [are] the unexpected departures, the whoa!s, the goodbyes that seem like a glitch." (Katie Baker, The Ringer)

The bottom line: This isn't the end of Andrew Luck. It's the beginning of the rest of his life. (Though, honestly, I wouldn't be surprised if we see him back under center in the future.)

Go deeper:

Go deeper

10,000 trees near giant sequoia groves to be removed after fires

A firefighter looks up at a giant sequoia tree after fire burned through the Sequoia National Forest near California Hot Springs, California, on Sept. 23. Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

"Upwards of" 10,000 trees near giant sequoia groves have been "weakened by drought, disease, age, and/or fire" and must be removed in the wake of California's wildfires, the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks announced.

Why it matters: The damage to these trees, considered "national treasures," and work to remove them means a nearby key highway must remain closed to visitors as they have "the potential to strike people, cars, other structures, or create barriers to emergency response services," per a statement from the national parks.

Obama stumps for McAuliffe, urges Virginians not "to go back to the chaos"

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Former President Barack Obama framed a Nov. 2 gubernatorial race as a bellwether for the Democratic Party and the country, telling a crowd at a campaign event for Terry McAuliffe on Saturday that "I believe you, right here in Virginia, are going to show the rest of the country and the world that we're not going to indulge in our worst instincts."

Why it matters: With just over a week to go before Election Day in the Commonwealth, McAuliffe is bringing out the big guns. The 44th president appeared on the campus of Virginia Commonwealth University to urge supporters to get to the polls.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Axios AM Deep Dive: America’s murder surge

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Erik McGregor/LightRocket via Getty Images

Homicides rose at the fastest rate in at least six decades last year. This Axios AM Deep Dive, led by Future correspondent Bryan Walsh, looks at the state of gun crime.