The news was shocking, but the reaction is what we’ll always remember.
When it was discovered that former Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck was retiring during the second half of a preseason game between the Colts and the Chicago Bears, social media exploded.
But as bad as the takes were on Twitter, the fans inside of Lucas Oil Stadium were even worse, as they booed him as he walked off the field for the last time after the game.
The man who was the face of an NFL franchise had decided to give up the game at 29. Luck was coming off a Pro Bowl season in which he was the AP Comeback Player of the Year. Last season he threw for 4,593 yards and 39 touchdowns, and completed 67.3% of his passes with a quarterback rating of 69.6.
But, Luck was tired.
He missed nine games back in 2015 and was out for all of the 2017 season. Throughout his NFL career, he’d dealt with torn cartilage in two ribs, a partially torn abdomen, a lacerated kidney, concussions, a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder, and was trying to work his way back from a calf/ankle injury that had hindered him this preseason.
“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, both in-season and offseason,” Luck explained. “And 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.”
He’d given all that he had, and more, to the Colts and their fan base, and all he got in return were boos.
“It hurt. I’ll be honest. It hurt,” said Luck.
Ashamed doesn’t even come close to what Colts fans should be feeling.
“What has he ever done in this city that would be boo-able?” asked Indianapolis Star columnist Gregg Doyel. “You take someone that nice, and you decide that because that he’s not going to play the sport you want to watch him play, that you’re going to boo him?”
However, as bad as it sounds, we shouldn’t have been surprised by the reactions of some of the fans in Indianapolis, given some of the recent antics we’ve seen throughout the sports world.
In June, during Game 5 of the NBA Finals, we heard Toronto Raptors fans cheer when Kevin Durant went down with a torn Achilles. After working himself back from a strained right calf injury, Durant suffered one of the worst injuries a basketball player can endure on the game’s biggest stage. The cheers from some of the Raptors fans was nothing short of cruel.
“That’s not how Canadians are,” said Raptors superfan Nav Bhatia. “I don’t know if fans knew [Durant] was hurt badly. Maybe that’s what the fans thought. But whatever it is, I’m really ashamed and I apologize on behalf of the fans who were there.”
Earlier in the season, Russell Westbrook dealt with a fan named Shane Keisel in Salt Lake City who yelled at him “to get down on your knees like you’re used to.”
“I swear…. I’ll (expletive) you up,” said Westbrook to Keisel. “You and your wife. I’ll (expletive) you up.”
Just a few weeks before, Westbrook had dealt with a similar incident in Denver when a kid that was sitting courtside reached out and hit him on the arm.
“For all fans, though, there’s too much leeway for the fans to be able to touch the players and get away with it, and then you can’t react and do the things that we need to do to protect ourselves,” Westbrook told The Oklahoman. “But I can’t do nothing. What am I going to do, hop in the stands? But there has to be some type of rule or some type of boundaries set that you can’t allow that.”
Despite the multiple incidents that Durant and Westbrook dealt with, this isn’t just a problem for the NBA, either.
In March, a Birmingham City fan rushed the field at St. Andrews and punched Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish in the back of the head. Another fan was then arrested at Emirates Stadium in London after running on the field to push Manchester United’s Chris Smalling.
Last season in the NFL, Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill was doused with beer by fans in Foxboro after scoring a touchdown against the New England Patriots. A month later, a fan in Buffalo decided to join in on a fight that was taking place on the field between members of the Bills and the Jacksonville Jaguars when he reached over and punched Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette as he was exiting the field. Fournette was also hit in the helmet by a can of beer that was thrown from the stands.
In 2017, Baltimore Orioles center fielder Adam Jones had a bag of peanuts thrown at him while being called the N-word during a game at Fenway Park against the Boston Red Sox.
In 2002, Kansas City Royals’ first-base coach Tom Gamboa got jumped on the field by a father and son tandem during a game against the Chicago White Sox. And back in 1993, former tennis star Monica Seles was stabbed in the back by a fan on the court, forever changing the trajectory of her career
And we’ll always remember the “Malice at the Palace” that took place in 2004 during the final minute of the Indiana Pacers and Detroit Pistons game in Auburn Hills. Nine players were suspended for a total of 146 games, totaling a loss of $11 million in salary, as multiple players were charged with assault from an incident that all started when a fan threw a drink at Ron Artest.
Fans have been crossing the line for a long time. But the sense of entitlement from some of the ones in Indianapolis was something we hadn’t seen before. Fan is short for fanatic, which is defined as “a person filled with excessive and single-minded zeal, especially for an extreme religious or political cause.”
On Saturday night we found out what that “single-minded zeal” was. And it wasn’t for Andrew Luck. It was for the self-centeredness that some fans feel is owed to them.