I often mock “fire and passion” narratives because they’re stupid. When fans were upset because the Hawks traded away Andrew Shaw and “lost his fire and passion,” I called them idiots because they were losing his skill, not an emotion. I mock the fans and the analysts, not the passion. Today, I feel horrible for Luke Kuechly because of that passion.
Kuechly was carted off the field while sobbing uncontrollably as if he was a little kid. Players from both teams consoled him as he was making his way back to the locker room to be evaluated for a concussion. The knee-jerk reaction is to feel bad for the guy because football is his life and he anticipates it being taken away from him. But there’s deeper meaning that was probably causing Kuechly to react so emotionally.
Luke has suffered concussions in the past. Head injuries are now known to cause post-career complications including complete mental breakdowns. Kuechly is a smart guy, so he knows this. He knows that he can’t continue to suffer concussions and live a normal life after football. He also knows that he loves the game probably more than anyone on the field at a given time. Just watch him play. He’s always out of breath. This is a superior physical specimen who pushes himself so hard on every play that he’s constantly breathing hard. He’s involved in every single play. That’s not something you see out of the typical NFL player.
The crash of emotions which include thinking about another possible concussion, his future after football, and if this means he should stop playing sooner than later, is difficult for any human being who is as passionate about something as Kuechly is. Not to mention his team was close to giving up another late lead and essentially ending their season. The memes and gifs will be created. Hell, this might even replace Crying Jordan. However, in the moment I can’t recall too many instances where I’ve felt worse for a professional athlete.