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(CARMEL, Ind.) –  ESPN SportsCenter anchor and Carmel native Sage Steele says Andrew Luck’s retirement holds a non-football lesson more fans need to learn.

Steele was back in her hometown to address the EDGE-X mentoring conference. She says the Colts quarterback took a lot of undeserved grief over his retirement — she says social media has magnified the tendency to forget people have private struggles you know nothing about. Steele recalls getting emotional, not just as a Colts fan, watching Luck’s retirement news conference, and the courage she says he showed laying bare those struggles, including acknowledging feeling resentful at first of Jacoby Brissett filling in for him in 2017.

Steele praises the team’s management for treating Luck as a human being. She’s not making predictions about the Brissett-led Colts, but says she hopes the team is rewarded with a deep playoff run for “beautifully” handling  Luck’s retirement.

Steele allowed herself some on-air commentary last month after Andrew Luck’s retirement, with a two-minute thank-you tribute which admonished fans that the decision was Luck’s to make, and to “forget about our fantasy team…and just respect the decision that this man made for himself and for his family.”

In general, Steele says sports media need to leave the opinions to shows like “First Take” and “Pardon the Interruption,” and deliver fans the sports news. Steele’s Carmel appearance came a day after Sports Illustrated announced the firing of half its staff and an abrupt departure from the magazine’s longtime mission of in-depth sports journalism. Steele, who’s  survived a few rounds of layoffs at ESPN herself, says her heart goes out to the newly unemployed SI staffers, but  says sports journalism is alive and well. She says the industry needs to stay focused on the basics, and says she believes “SportsCenter” is delivering some of its best work.

Sage Steele (Photo: Eric Berman/WIBC)