Chuck Pagano watched Andrew Luck grow from a No. 1 overall pick to one of the best quarterbacks in football over the course of his six seasons as head coach of the Indianapolis Colts.
Pagano, now the defensive coordinator of the Chicago Bears, has nothing but support for Luck’s shocking decision to retire at the age of 29.
He released a statement through the Bears on Sunday, commending not only Luck’s career, but the decision he made to retire.
Pagano: “I will forever be a huge Andrew Luck fan.” pic.twitter.com/Acvd9WbH9m— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) August 25, 2019
Obviously, no player helped Pagano’s career as much as Luck did. The beginning of Pagano’s career as an NFL head coach coincided with the beginning of Luck’s NFL career in 2012. The Colts went 11-5 in each of their first three seasons, only to struggle the next three as Luck continuously dealt with the nagging injuries that eventually forced his retirement.
As Pagano mentions, he and Luck also share a personal bond from the coach’s battle with leukemia during their first season together.
There aren’t many people in the NFL as close to Luck as Pagano, but that doesn’t mean the quarterback hasn’t found support in retirement.
Many in the NFL have supported Luck’s decision
The biggest show of support to Luck came from the Colts themselves, who won’t pursue the $24.8 million they could recoup from the quarterback’s signing bonus. In addition to that generous gesture from owner Jim Irsay, general manager Chris Ballard and head coach Frank Reich echoed the sentiment in a news conference:
“We wish Andrew Luck the best,” Ballard said Saturday night. “This young man has done a lot for the city of Indianapolis and for the Indianapolis Colts.”
“It’s hard to put into words the emotions you feel, and thankfully Chris and I and Mr. Irsay have had some time to digest this — and it’s been hard to digest,” Reich added. “Being in that room with (Luck) for the last 18 months was just the experience of a lifetime.”
Some Colts fans were not as understanding however, booing Luck during the last time they could see him with their favorite team.
Colts wide receiver TY Hilton went so far as to dedicate his season to Luck, during which he’ll be catching passes from Jacoby Brissett.
Every time i think about it, Tears start to flow 😭😭😭. No one understands you like i do. Our bond is one of a kind. I’ve decided to dedicate my season to my BEST FRIEND. I Love You 12. #Luck2Hilton pic.twitter.com/9a3JzxNum2— TY Hilton (@TYHilton13) August 26, 2019
Many of Luck’s other teammates and past opponents also came out in support.
Andrew Luck will be somebody I tell my kids about. The person & the player. Respect Andrew ✊🏾 #LTE— Eric Ebron (@Ebron85) August 25, 2019
Much love to my fellow Texas brother.— Robert Griffin III (@RGIII) August 25, 2019
Stiil remember our time together as Heisman finalists and how we laughed about almost being teammates at Stanford. The decision was only yours to make and I’m glad you have found peace in it. Respect https://t.co/4MQzsyZ9hz
This is sad! Much respect to a great competitior and leader of a franchise. Good luck to you and your family on your retirement ✊🏾 https://t.co/3fqXk4aY6R— Kevin Byard (@KB31_Era) August 25, 2019
Andrew luck I understand you 100% brotha... take your time... I wish you the best— Dez Bryant (@DezBryant) August 25, 2019
More from Yahoo Sports: