It may not have been the same circumstances, but Jets C Ryan Kalil was in Andrew Luck's shoes after the 2018-19 NFL season.
Kalil called it quits after 12 long seasons with the Panthers, ready to move on from the game and go into his next phase in life. But he did so after playing center for the Panthers one last season at age 33, which is entirely different than what Luck just did over the weekend when he announced his retirement just before the start to the new year.
Luck was emotionally at his presser following the Colts' preseason bout against the Bears, saying that he couldn't take the game mentally and physically anymore. And Kalil completely understands where Luck was coming from when he bid farewell to the game he loved.
"Listen, I can relate more than anybody," Kalil said after practice on Tuesday. "I think I understand where he's coming from. It's hard. You get stuck in a scenario where you don't feel quite like yourself. Fortunately for me, I still had one more year left on my contract and I was going into that season feeling like my old self and then I stayed my old self throughout that year. So it's a little bit different of a situation.
"It sounds like from what I've been hearing it was probably a little bit worse than people think. I get that. It's hard physically and it's hard mentally."
Kalil, obviously, wasn't fully committed to leaving the game behind. Jets GM Joe Douglas convinced him that he should join Gang Green, and he did so on a one-year, $8.4 million deal.
He has had a lot of catching up to do, and he still hasn't played in a preseason game to see if his communication and understanding of the playbook is on point. Kalil was supposed to be out against the Saints on Saturday night, but he said a last minute decision came that it was smartest if he remained sidelined again.
"I think we were talking throughout the week whether we were gonna play or not, and just last minute we decided to give me more time -- more so mentally than physically," he said. "Feel like I'm getting my legs back and feel like my old self. I didn't take that much time off football. It's not like I went like Jason Witten, went and took off a year and came back."
Like Kalil says, he hasn't been entirely away from the game for over a year to the point where he needs to feel what an NFL game is like again. He just got a late start to training camp, and says he doesn't necessarily need preseason games. In fact, he did play in any last season in Carolina.
But this is a new offense to learn and new teammates to build chemistry with. So, while it's unknown if he'll get in the game against the Eagles on Thursday night in the final tune-up before the regular season, he'll continue hitting the books and making the best out of his practice reps.
"I don't think tough," he said about jumping into the mix Week 1. "Physically, not concerned. Mentally, just the more reps I can get, the better off. Just felt like a couple more weeks we'll be in a place that will be more comfortable."