When Andrew Luck tearfully announced his retirement from the NFL yesterday, the star quarterback described it as "the hardest decision of his life".

And walking away from US$500 million (NZT$783 million) in future earnings – as it's now been revealed – won't help ease the sting.

The Indianapolis Colts quarterback will miss out on the US$28.8 million (NZ$45.1 million) in bonus money he was set to earn this season after reaching a settlement with the club.

Read more: Quarterback Andrew Luck tells Indianapolis Colts he plans to retire from the NFL

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But with three years and roughly US$65 million left on his current contract with the likelihood of scoring big figures on another two deals if he were to play until he was 40, Luck may have walked away from much more according to Colts owner Jim Irsay.

Andrew Luck looks to handoff. Photo / Photosport
Andrew Luck looks to handoff. Photo / Photosport

"It's a tough thing, look it, he's leaving $450, $500 million on the table potentially," Irsay told CBS Sports.

"I mean, a half a billion dollars, and he's saying, 'you know what, I want to have my integrity. I have to be able to look T.Y. [Hilton] in the eye, look my teammates, look coach [Frank Reich], look Chris [Ballard] and say, 'I'm all in,' and he just didn't feel he could do that."

Luck, who turns 30 next month, said he'd been mulling retirement for about two weeks as he dealt with his latest setback, a leg injury that had kept him sidelined.

"For the last four years or so, I've been in this cycle - injury, pain, rehab, injury, pain, rehab - and it's been unceasing, unrelenting, both in-season and offseason," he said. "And I felt stuck in it. And the only way I see out is to no longer play football. It's taken my joy of this game away.

"I haven't been able to live the life I want to live. It's taken the joy out of this game. After 2016, where I played in pain and was unable to regularly practice, I made a vow to myself that I would not go down that path again.

"I find myself in a similar situation. And the only way forward for me is to remove myself from football and this cycle that I've been in. I've come to the proverbial fork in the road. And I made a vow to myself if I ever did again, I would choose me in a sense."

Luck, the top overall selection in the 2012 NFL draft, leaves the league after seven NFL seasons, one of which he missed entirely. He got the Colts as far as the AFC championship game but never reached the Super Bowl.

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He played last season and led the Colts to the playoffs after missing all of the 2017 season following shoulder surgery.