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Luke Kuechly is walking away from the NFL at 28.

In a stunning move Tuesday night, the Carolina Panthers linebacker and former NFL defensive player of the year announced he was retiring from football.

“I think now is the right chance for me to move on,” Kuechly said in a statement. “It makes me sad because I love playing this game, I’ve played it since I was a kid. It’s my favorite thing in the world to do. The memories I have from this place and this organization and being on the field with these guys – they’ll never go away.

“In my heart I know it’s the right thing to do… 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.”

Though he did not cite head injuries in his statement, Kuechly missed nine games due to concussions from 2015-16 and suffered three known ones in his eight-year career.

Kuechly steps away from the game as one of the premier defenders of his generation. A seven-time Pro Bowl selection and five-time…