Indianapolis Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton said Thursday he considered retirement after suffering a neck injury during an August practice that required surgery and caused him to start the 2021 season on injured reserve.
Hilton, who's set to resume practicing ahead of Sunday's Week 6 game against the Houston Texans, told reporters he had conversations with former Colts quarterback Andrew Luck after the injury. Luck surprisingly retired in 2019 at the age of 29:
Brett Bensley @brettbensley
"I almost hung it up, I can't even lie... I talked to Andrew... that's probably the wrong thing to do." - TY Hilton, laughing. On how close he thought the end of his career may have been and how Andrew Luck helped. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Colts?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Colts</a> <a href="https://t.co/mx5SDUuhgE">pic.twitter.com/mx5SDUuhgE</a>
The 31-year-old wideout, a 2012 third-round pick, was one of the NFL's most durable players early in his career, missing just two games across his first six seasons.
Injuries have become a bigger factor over the past three years, however, as Hilton has sat out nine contests since the start of the 2018 campaign.
When Luck retired, he explained a series of injuries left him in a seemingly constant state of rehabilitation that severely impacted his life as a whole.
"It's been unceasing, unrelenting, both in-season and offseason, and I felt stuck in it," Luck told reporters. "And the only way I see out is to no longer play football. It's taken my joy of this game away and ... I've been stuck in this process [and] haven't been able to live the life I want to live."
Hilton's numbers have dropped off since the quarterback retired—all five of his 1,000-yard seasons came with Luck leading the Colts offense—but he still managed to reel in 10 touchdowns in 25 games over the past two years.
Once activated from IR, he'll look to provide a boost to a unit that ranks 16th in total offense (363.4 yards per game) and 21st in scoring offense (21.6 points per game) so far this year.
"Certainly excited to have T.Y. back in the fold and out on the field," head coach Frank Reich told reporters Wednesday. "Obviously that's a big, emotional boost to the team."
After Hilton gets back to full speed, he should have a good chance to reclaim his spot from Michael Pittman Jr. as the top target in the passing game for quarterback Carson Wentz. His impending return also comes with the Colts needing to turn things around quickly after a 1-4 start.
Whether it'll be enough to jump-start the offense is up for debate, but one thing's for sure: Indianapolis is happy he didn't decide to walk away amid those initial retirement thoughts.