Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly retires after 8 seasons

After eight seasons with the Carolina Panthers, linebacker Luke Kuechly has decided to retire. 

The announcement came late Tuesday from the Panthers Twitter. Kuechly says he's stepping back from the game because of the physical exertion. 

"There's only one way to play this game since I was a little kid – play fast, play physical and play strong. And at this point I don't know if I am able to do that anymore," he said. 

The 28-year-old was unquestionably one of Carolina's greatest players and one of the best linebackers in the league. 

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA - DECEMBER 29: Luke Kuechly #59 of the Carolina Panthers before their game against the New Orleans Saints at Bank of America Stadium on December 29, 2019 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images)

"Beyond his extraordinary performance on the field, Luke has had a tremendous impact on this organization and region," owner David Tepper said. "It's obviously going to be very difficult for all of us because we know that no player can replace what he's been for this organization for the last eight years. His presence can't be replicated."

Kuechly won Defensive Player of the Year award (2013) and the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year award (2012). He helped the panthers get to the second Super Bowl appearance in their history in 2015. 

He finishes his career with 1,092 tackles, the most in the NFL since he entered the league, and 18 interceptions, the most by a linebacker since 2012 and third-most in franchise history. 

"While I wish we could have him for many more years, he has done everything the right way and we respect the decision that he's made," Tepper said. "Luke is a once-in-a-generation player and someone we want every member of this organization to emulate."

With such a remarkable career, some question if Kuechly should be in the Hall of Fame. You can share your thoughts with FOX 46 Sports Director Will Kunkel here.