CARSON, Calif. — Russell Wilson will always be tied to Andrew Luck as members of the NFL draft class of 2012.
And that made it all that more surprising when Wilson heard Saturday, as he walked onto the field for the Seahawks’ preseason game against the Chargers, that Luck was retiring — one of the most surprising developments in recent NFL history.
“It’s kind of crazy to think about,” said Wilson, who said he was told the news by teammate Duane Brown as they walked back from the locker room to the field before Saturday’s 23-15 preseason win against the Chargers.
Wilson said he got to know Luck through a few events for rookies that season as well as at the Pro Bowl in 2012 — each was named to the game after their first year in the NFL.
“When you really think about it for that 2012 class, I think we have great appreciation for each other,” Wilson said. “He was a great player.”
Luck was the first player taken in that draft. Wilson was the 75th, and the sixth QB.
With Luck’s retirement, Wilson is the only one of those six who is assured a starting job heading into the 2019 season. The others, besides Luck, are Robert Griffin III (now a backup with the Ravens), Ryan Tannehill (taken 10th and now a backup with the Titans) and Brandon Weeden (22nd) and Brock Osweiler (57) each currently free agents.
Luck said he is retiring due to having battled a steady stream of injuries. Luck missed 26 games from the 2015 to 2017 seasons.
Wilson has never missed a game — he has had to sit out two plays in his career for health/injury reasons — and has essentially never missed a practice.
But he said sympathized with Luck.
“I think as fans, and even as players sometimes, we forget that there is life after this game,” Wilson said. “And I think that a guy like Andrew, one of the most dedicated guys, he has always been tremendous on the field. Obviously he has battled some things in his life, injuries and everything else. I don’t know what it was, but I’m praying that he stays encouraged.
“This game can take a toll on us physically, but also emotionally, spiritually and everything else, and I think that he has demonstrated class the whole time as he has gone through everything, being highly touted, obviously being the No. 1 pick and everything else. It’s a lot of pressure on him and he handled it with grace.”
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll not only coached against Luck in the NFL but also when he was at USC and Luck was at Stanford, where his teammates included the likes of former Seahawks Doug Baldwin and Richard Sherman.
“I think that’s really surprising to hear,” Carroll said. “That’s a rare instance that a guy in his prime steps away from the game, but obviously he has his reasons.. (It’s) surprising for everybody and you wonder about the circumstances. But it is about injuries. He’s had some very long-term serious things that have really bothered him, and I think he probably can’t get over this one fast enough and it just wore him out. I would support the guy. If the guy wants to step away the guy wants to step away. I wouldn’t think anything more than that, than to support him.”