The video, which was first posted to the Panthers website, featured Kuechly mentioning "now is the right time for me," as he added "it makes me sad because I love playing this game." The linebacker was a seven-time Pro Bowl selection and a former NFL Rookie of the Year Award winner in 2012. He was the ninth overall pick by the Panthers in the 2012 NFL Draft, and quickly turned around to being named the Defensive Player of the Year in 2013. And he never stopped putting up big defensive numbers, finishing his career with 1,092 tackles and 18 interceptions in eight NFL seasons.
He did play a major role in the Panthers historic 15-1 season in 2015, which saw them reach the Super Bowl with quarterback Cam Newton, before falling to Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos. Despite all of that success, the defensive force did deal with numerous concussions throughout his career, which caused him to miss 10 games in total. That includes three in 2015, six in 2016, and one in 2017. There is big speculation that this is what led to a retirement at such a young age, which adds to the ongoing concussion protocol problem in the NFL.