In an emotional retirement video, Luke says now is the right time for him to step away from the game. He says the decision to quit playing the game he loves was super tough.
"In my heart I know it's the right thing to do," Kuechly says. "There's only one way to play this game since I was a little kid, is to play fast, play physical and play strong. And, at this point, I don't know if I am able to do that anymore. That's the part that's the most difficult."
Kuechly was a stud on the field with Carolina ... making 7 Pro Bowls and earning 5 first-team All-Pro honors. He was the NFL's defensive player of the year in 2013 and the defensive rookie of the year in 2012.
The Panthers have a new coach in Matt Rhule, but Kuechly says the coaching change did not weigh in to his decision to retire.