EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — New York Giants defensive back Michael Thomas wasn't caught off guard by Andrew Luck's stunning retirement this weekend.
The two have been friends for the past 15 years. It started as opponents on the football field in high school in Houston and continued as teammates at Stanford, and well beyond that.
They have discussed more than football in recent years. So while the announcement of Luck's retirement on Saturday night was surprising, Thomas said he was aware the Indianapolis Colts' quarterback was mulling walking away from the game.
"I was just calling him and texting him, that's my brother, grew up playing against him in high school, been knowing him since I was 14-years-old," Thomas said Sunday after practice. "It's a personal issue, obviously. I am not going to disclose what me and him talked about personally but I support him. He had a great ride and if that's the decision he makes it is probably for a good reason."
Thomas would not say what he and Luck said, but insisted the decision by Luck was in the best interest of the 29-year-old and his family.
If there was anything that bothered Thomas, it was seeing Colts' fans boo Luck as he walked off the field after they became aware of the retirement during Indianapolis' 27-17 loss to the Chicago Bears.
Luck did not play in the preseason.
"Fans need to understand that man, this game, as physical as it is, is taxing on everybody's body," Thomas said. "I don't care if they think it's a quarterback, they are not taking it. No, they are taking punishment. That's the reason he has been dealing with injuries before. Any player, when they decide they have given this game all they could and they are going to step away from it for a personal reasons, whet ever it is, to boo him, that's not right regardless of if they think it's premature or too early for their liking. That's not fair."
A member of the NFLPA's executive committee, Thomas was happy to see Luck walk away on his own terms, saying most players don't get to do that.
"You've done it right if you felt you have given this game everything you could," Thomas said. "You start looking at your kids. You start looking at your family, how much you've sacrificed, how much they've sacrificed and the time you have missed away from them. (If) Your body and your physical and mental health and safety is not there and you want step away from the game to spend more time with them and give time back to them, that's to each man."
Giants safety Antoine Bethea has been through a similar experience with the Colts. He was on the team when Peyton Manning missed the 2011 season with a neck injury and the Colts finished 2-14. The following year they drafted Luck and cut Manning, who signed with Denver and led it to a Super Bowl in 2015.
Bethea played two seasons with Luck, who he described as selfless.
"He would do anything for you," Bethea said. "The ultimate pro who would come in early every day and work hard. A great all-around person, you see how smart he is. To see him in this type of situation, he is looking out for himself, which he should be doing."
NOTES: Giants coach Pat Shurmur said Eli Manning will not play in the final preseason game against the Patriots on Thursday. Rookie Daniel Jones will start at quarterback. ... Second-year CB Sam Beal, who has missed last season with a shoulder injury and has not played in a preseason game this year with a hamstring issue, wants to play Thursday. "I'm not going back on IR," he said. "I'm not. I'll be killed before I go back there." ... Giants G Will Hernandez, who was flagged for three penalties on the first two series against the Bengals, admitted he beat himself up over the weekend. He vowed the mistakes would stop. "They pity party is over," he said.
More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL