Jeff Pearlman

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Luke Kuechly

In case you missed this, Carolina linebacker Luke Kuechly today after eight NFL seasons. His announcement via Twitter was emotional, moving, fascinating—and made me tremendously happy.

I don’t know Luke. I’ve never met Luke. But I’ve met enough retired NFL players who went at the game as Luke did (hard, always charging always going 100 percent) to know this was a smart move when it comes to the longterm quality of his life.

Or, put differently: Football destroys people. Their minds, their bodies. One can argue it doesn’t destroy their wallets—but that’s only until said player needs medical help 10 years after his last game, and the NFL denies coverage. Then the wallet takes a pounding as well.

Too many players lack what Kuechly seems to have: Awareness that the game is short, and life without it should be fruitful and long. There are so many beautiful things this world offers that are made inaccessible to people who suffer brain damage or battered knees. There are places to fly to, restaurants to enjoy, puzzles to solve. There are mountains to climb and oceans to swim and children to pick up.

The NFL has never shown much concern for its players, so it’s satisfying to see a player show concern for himself.

God speed, Luke Kuechly.

God speed.

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Once again, Jeff Pearlman has produced an exhaustively researched, elegantly written book that re-creates one of the most colorful and memorable teams of the modern era. No basketball fan's bookshelf will be complete without it.

— Seth Davis, author of Wooden: A Coach's Life