Out of Luck

The 2011 Indianapolis Colts had a lot of uncertainty that year when Peyton Manning was listed out with a neck injury and there was no timetable for his return. The Colts that season lost their first 13 games of the year and finished with a 2-14 record and the number one overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft the following year. The organization had to make some decisions regarding the man who put the Colts on the map in the football world. Indy would eventually release Peyton and the team had their sights set on a young man from Stanford university named Andrew Luck. In April of 2012, the Colts did what everyone expected and drafted Andrew with the first pick in that draft. Just like Aaron Rodgers was labeled the guy who replaced a legend in Green Bay, Andrew would face that same label in Indianapolis coming in replacing a legend as well. After seven seasons in the NFL, the 29-year-old has decided to call it a career and retire after informing the Colts that he’s mentally worn down.

I’m absolutely stunned by this news. You talk about something coming out of left field, that’s exactly what this is. When he stayed healthy, I thought he was an elite quarterback. You saw how much he meant to his team and last season is the perfect example of that. The Colts missed the playoffs the last two seasons before returning to January football again in 2018. He comes back and they’re a much different ballclub. Whatever he had to do to put his team in prime position to win, he did it. He was more than the guy who could stand in the pocket to throw the ball. He got those hard-fought yards, he made all the throws, he was on the same page with each of his receivers. He was great when it came to spread the ball around even when he had one of the better receivers around him in T.Y. Hilton. Part of what made him great was the ability to stand tall in the pocket and move around from pressure coming at all angles. He also had the quickness and agility to scramble and move the chains himself. He made all his reads, improvised to keep the play alive and could fling the ball down the field for a 50-yard touchdown pass like it was nothing. There were so many quarterbacks that you could get your hands on and they’d still find a way to look down the field. That was Andrew. He always kept his head on a swivel and never stayed away from a hit. In fact, anytime he got hit, he would always pay a compliment to the player who would lay him out which I thought was awkward yet funny at the same time. He was built to play football because he seemed to enjoy the physical nature of the game. Most quarterbacks hated getting it, that was never the case with Andrew. I remember a game one year against the Cleveland Browns where he threw an interception. He was the first guy to get to who picked him off and tried karate chopping the ball out his hands to force a fumble. He always played with that “reckless abandon” which meant he played with no fear at all.

Last season was the best year of his career. He threw 39 touchdown passes and was named the comeback player of the year. He led the Colts to consecutive division titles in 2013 and 2014. His first playoff win was a thriller against the Chiefs where he had to lead a big comeback for the Colts to advance. The following year, he led the Colts to Denver to face the second-seeded Denver Broncos and the man he eventually replaced in Indianapolis. He beat Peyton and helped lead the Colts to the AFC title game where they fell short to the Patriots. He finished his career with 171 career touchdown passes, a second place finish for rookie of the year in 2012 and he was a four-time pro bowler.