CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Luke Kuechly retired from the NFL Tuesday night, and he spent his entire career with a few people on the Carolina Panthers, including former Panthers head coach Ron Rivera.
Rivera is now the head coach of the Washington Redskins, and he had a very close relationship with Kuechly as the two spent eight seasons together on the Panthers.
On Tuesday night, Rivera tweeted high praise for Kuechly as a top-level linebacker and the memories to two shared together.
“I will remember Luke’s sense of humor, his leadership and for being a great teammate,” Rivera tweeted.
Rivera spoke on WBTV’s QC @ 3 Wednesday afternoon, and talked about his reaction when he found out that Kuechly was retiring.
“Knowing Luke and having had the great fortune of being around him and his family, it also makes sense. He’s accomplished a lot of things, he’s been able to do a lot of things and be the right type of person that this team needed. If he feels now’s the time, then now’s as good as anytime and he went ahead and did it,” Rivera said.
Rivera said that Kuechly called him to talk about his decision to retire before he made the official announcement.
“I was fortunate that he called me, and we had a chance to talk about it before it went public, so I was just grateful that he had a chance to speak with me,” Rivera said.
In the official announcement, Kuechly gave insight into why he was stepping away from the game of football, and how he feels unsure about his ability to continue playing football at the level that he’s wants to play. Rivera spoke about that Wednesday.
“If he’s not able to give his all and play the way that he wants to play for his team and his teammates, then he’s probably feeling that it is time to go,” Rivera said. “It’s amazing that a guy like that is able to do that and make that type of decision on his own. He’s able to do it, he’s able to walk out on his terms, then good for him.”
Rivera also talked about Kuechly’s presence in the lock room as a leader and teammate.
“When he first got here, it was lead by example,” Rivera said. “The way he did things, the way he prepared, the way he studied, the way he practiced, the way he played and the way he handled himself off the field. That was about as impressive as anything I’ve seen. He’s as good a young man as I’ve been around and just very fortunate to watch him. He was the ultimate teammate, and I know he’s a guy that everyone’s going to miss tremendously, but I’m just glad he’s going to be able to do what he wants to do and be the person he wants to be now that he’s going to walk away from the game on his own terms. I’ll be supportive of whatever he does.”
Rivera talked about what he thinks Kuechly may do in his life after football.
“Knowing him, it’s probably going to be fishing and being around his family, that type of stuff. And then he may get a little anxious, a little antsy and he might coach, he’s got such a brilliant football mind and he loves the game so much, that could be possibly in his future, his near future,” Rivera said. “But I think he’s going to take a chance to step back and really take a breath and think about what’s going on and what he really wants to do later in life.”