What does Luke Kuechly miss most about pro football?

(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Luke Kuechly
(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Luke Kuechly /

What does legendary Carolina Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly miss most about playing professional football more than one year removed from retirement?

There is no denying the fact Luke Kuechly was missed by the Carolina Panthers in 2020. The iconic linebacker gave absolutely everything to the organization before deciding to call it a day after eight glorious seasons that will no doubt end up in the Pro Football Hall of Fame sooner rather than later.

While it was probably the right call to make from a health perspective, Kuechly had plenty more to give. Preserving long-term health was the ultimate reasoning behind the perennial All-Pro’s decision, with a series of concussion problems only heightening the former first-round pick’s concerns in later life.

Kuechly will obviously go down as one of the greatest-ever Panthers players. And the fact he is still around in a new role as a pro scout is further testament to how much the organization values his high football IQ and ability to break down opposing schemes in a cerebral fashion.

This has already had a tremendous impact on the likes of Jeremy Chinn, who spoke glowingly about Kuechly and his willingness to go above and beyond the call of duty to stay behind and watch gameday film with the stud rookie and others with a view to improving performance on the field.

If Kuechly had his way, he would still be playing.

But health trumps everything.

What Luke Kuechly misses about suiting up for the Carolina Panthers.

It’s been more than a year since Kuechly announced he was hanging up his cleats and he was in a reflective mood when speaking about retirement on the latest edition of The Artist and the Athlete with Lindsay Czarniak alongside 2020 CMA Male Vocalist of the Year Luke Combs.

When asked what he missed most about pro football, Kuechly gave the sort of answer that shows just what satisfaction he got from producing the goods when it mattered most.

"I think one of the coolest that happens is when you’re playing an away game, it’s a big game and there is a lot on the line. The crowd is into it and there’s great energy, but when the team makes a big play or wins the game and the stadium goes quiet is one of the best feelings. All you can hear is your sideline celebrating and the few fans who are sprinkled in there to support you. That’s one of the coolest things you can hear. Knowing you did that to take the wind out of them means everything. Obviously, the flipside to that is at home when the crowd is behind you. But silencing a stadium is a very powerful feeling."

This typifies the sort of competitor Kuechly was. Carolina has some of the most memorable moments in franchise history when he was manning the middle of the field alongside Thomas Davis. Although this didn’t come with an elusive first Super Bowl, it does not detract from what a phenomenal player the Boston College product and others were in the 2010s.

Those days are now long gone, and there is no doubt Kuechly misses it. However, being part of the set-up moving forward is only going to help the Panthers and their young roster who are trying to follow in his footsteps.

There will never be another Kuechly. Carolina found that out to their cost in 2020 when they thought Tahir Whitehead could step in and fill the void. Much more is expected of Denzel Perryman following his free-agent arrival from the Los Angeles Chargers and it’s clear the new acquisition is taking up the challenge head-on.

Having someone like Kuechly to lean on for advice and guidance is something Perryman should utilize at every possible opportunity. And judging by what sort of character the recently retired player, is he will be more than willing to assist if it benefits the team.

The Carolina Panthers and Luke Kuechly go hand in hand. He might not be making plays on the field anymore. But it appears as if the next stage of his journey will be equally as impressive.

You can listen to The Artist and The Athlete with Lindsay Czarniak featuring Luke Kuechly and Luke Combs here