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Dale Earnhardt Jr. on Luke Kuechly's retirement: "I feel for Luke"

More than anything, Earnhardt commends Kuechly for being an example to other athletes.
Credit: AP
Carolina Panthers middle linebacker Luke Kuechly (59) watches play in the closing seconds of an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, in Atlanta. The Atlanta Falcons won 40-20. (AP Photo/John Amis)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Tuesday night, Carolina Panthers Linebacker Luke Kuechly announced he was retiring. While he didn't give an official reason, many believe it has to do with concussions.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. is another well-known athlete that chose his health over continuing his career as a professional athlete. 

Earnhardt, who has said he believes he's had at least 20 concussions during his racing career, decided to step away from NASCAR in 2017. After going through such a similar experience, Earnhardt knows firsthand just how difficult of a decision it was for Luke Kuechly to step away from something he loves.

"I feel for Luke because he's 28," Earnhardt said. "You know, I made these decisions when I was 42, 43 years old. I'd already lived my career as a stock car driver -- if anything maybe I had a couple more years left. But Luke is very young and it must be extremely difficult to make that decision."

RELATED: 'In my heart I know it's the right thing to do' | Luke Kuechly announces retirement

Although Kuechly didn't specifically address the concussions he suffered while playing during his retirement announcement, he was sidelined three different times due to concussions, much like Earnhardt was in 2012 and again in 2016.

"So this has been weighing on him I just feel for how stressful this whole experience must have been for him over the last several years," Earnhardt said."Trying to get well after each of his issues and trying to hope that maybe this is the last one maybe I can get out there and play and do what I want to do and have a great career - and he did have a great career, but I know that he wishes that it was a longer career."

But more than anything, Earnhardt commends Kuechly for being an example to other athletes.

"It's honorable," Earnhardt said. "It's a great example for our youth, but also people that are playing today. Our players, our drivers need people like Luke to be setting examples for them to take these things seriously and to make the right decisions -- when to step away even if it's just for a few weeks to get well or whether it's for good."

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