Carolina Panther Luke Kuechly is undeniably one of the most beloved citizens in Charlotte, but an on-field injury Thursday against the New Orleans Saints made clear that he is also among the nation’s most popular athletes.
Reaction across the country to his injury ranged from concern to out right fear:
“In addition to having his left knee bent awkwardly, he was hit in the back of his head near the neck and took a helmet to his chest on the play...A distraught Kuechly was in tears immediately after the injury, struggling to catch his breath. It was one of the most poignant football moments in recent memory.”
Never miss a local story.
Cork Gaines, Business Insider
“A scary scene hit the NFL as Luke Kuechly was carted off the field in tears after suffering another apparent head injury. But what was really scary was seeing Kuechly's reaction after the play. There was initially some concern for either his knee or his ankle as he was seen limping on the previous play. However, cameras caught Kuechly sobbing on the field and seemingly in distress as it became clear that this was not a leg injury. The best way to describe the scene is that Kuechly looked scared...At times, Kuechly looked absolutely terrified, almost as if he was struggling to breathe...This is scary stuff.”
Jonathan Jones, Sports Illustrated
“Kuechly is openly sobbing on the field, begging for air, allowing himself to be carted off the field because he’s been rendered so helpless?...It’s impossible to tell or even imagine what he was thinking as NBC cameras showed no mercy with their zoom...Unlike the last time he was concussed, Kuechly couldn’t walk off the field on his own power. He had to be helped to the cart that took him into the tunnel as he continued to fight back the tears that had to have flowed once the eyes of millions were off him.”
“The dangers of football were on full display Thursday night...Kuechly could not get back up.”
Joseph Zucker, Bleacher Report
“CBS Sports’ Will Brinson noted Kuechly was ‘openly crying’ while he was on the field and being attended to by trainers...By the time the cart was called, Kuechly was visibly distraught.”
“Linebacker Luke Kuechly, their best player, their defensive leader, their high-effort paradigm, their beloved heartbeat, went down. With that, all those hopes were dashed in the worst possible way.”
Carl Cockerham, Fansided
“The way Kuechly was in crying uncontrollably, it looked like a serious, season-ending injury. The injury may not be season-ending but it is indeed serious, given the repercussions later on in life.”
”Kuechly was in tears as he rode off toward the locker room while fans screamed "Luuuuke!'' Saints quarterback Drew Brees had a message for Kuechly as he left the field. ‘I tried to let him know that I was gonna be praying for him,’ Brees said. ‘He is ... certainly one of the best football players I've ever seen and played against. And I hope that he's Okay’.”
“Kuechly missed three games last season with a concussion, and the sight of him hyperventilating and fighting off tears was unnerving...His status is unknown, but it’s concerning when the Panthers’ best player – yes, he’s been more consistent than Newton in 2016 – suffers another concussion a year after he missed a major chunk with one.”