CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - The news of Luke Kuechly’s retirement left many Carolina Panthers in complete shock Tuesday night.
At Clutch Sports bar near Bank of America Stadium, most fans were still decompressing from the Clemson game last by switching over to basketball. But hearing the news that Luke Kuechly is hanging up the pads, made the conversation take a sharp turn back to football.
“I am so, really? Luke retiring at this stage?” exclaimed one fan.
“Losing Luke, you basically gutted the Panthers,” said another.
After eight years calling the Carolinas home, Kuechly says it just feels like the right time to walk away from football.
Tosha Smith, a longtime fan of the Carolina Panthers, was at a loss as to what the team would do next.
“You know McCaffrey can do but so much, and if you do not get Cam back, who are you going to have to fill that spot? Luke was the dude. And like not to have him now, it’s like so baffling like what are you going to do?,” Smith said.
Pushing past her shock, Smith says she understands Kuechly leaving, especially it it was for health reasons.
“Best on your retirement. The Panthers are definitely going to miss you,” Smith said.
Jerry Ray was a little more dire in his forecast.
“You pretty much stuck your hand in our chest and ripped out our heart. It’s the bottom line,” Ray said.
But with the bad, comes the good. Fans tell us they also see the potential of fresh blood being brought in to fill that key spot. But that is easier said then done.
Matt Porillo is one of the owners of “Clutch”, which is not far from the stadium. He’s seen a lot of changes through the years, and hopes the Panthers can push through the loss of Kuechly.
”I’m optimistic, but we have to make some good moves we gotta do some good things in the offseason. We need to make some good trades. I think anything’s possible,” Porillo said.
Fans say they hope he sticks around Charlotte, because it wasn’t just the excitement on the field he’ll be remembered for, but all the good works he did around Charlotte.