For Andrew Luck, The Damage Was Already Done

Written by on August 28, 2019

(Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)

If you would have told me a few months ago that Andrew Luck would retire before the 2019 NFL season, I would have told you to shut the hell up. 

It’s obvious that his body has been exposed to grueling beatings but his 2018 campaign was marvelous. Securing “Comeback Player Of The Year”, Luck threw for 4,593 yards and reeled in 39 touchdown passes. As a result, Luck recorded his highest passer rating last season. After bouncing back from a 1-5 start, the Colts found themselves in the postseason. After crushing the Texans in Houston, the Colts suffered a similar fate at the hands of the Chiefs during the Divisional round. 

That game is officially Andrew Luck’s final outing. Who would have thought? 

When news of Luck’s intention to retire surfaced on Saturday, the league was stuck in neutral. It’s a shame that Luck’s final walk off of the field in Lucas Oil Stadium was to the sound of boos. In a way, it was sick, twisted irony considering the roaring cheers that he received when he was drafted back in 2012. It’s understandable that fans were in utter disbelief and that their emotions were skyrocketing. There was an electric feeling that radiated among the team and fanbase for the upcoming season as the Indianapolis Colts emerged as early favorites to go all the way. Now, it seems as though much of that energy has fizzled out. 

It would have been beneficial if Luck had made the decision much earlier. I completely agree with that. I can also agree with his decision to walk away from the game. Here’s a list of the injuries that Luck has had to combat: torn cartilage in two ribs, partially torn abdomen, a lacerated kidney, and a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder. 

Furthermore, those injuries have occured within a six year window and cost Luck the entire 2017 season. That’s a lot of punishment to bare in such a short window. It’s easy for anyone to say “that’s what you signed up for” because after all, football is a collusion sport. But there was trust that was breached between Luck and the front office. 

Former GM Ryan Grigson failed to surround his franchise QB with a respectable offensive line for years. Chuck Pagano and Jim Irsay aren’t innocent bystanders either. Sure, Luck is 6’ 4’’ and 240 pounds, but size will only take you so far. Being under pressure constantly and not having a solidified run game to help ease tension takes its toll on a young player. By the time Chris Ballard was able to fix those lingering issues, the damage had already been done. 

Luck’s style of play wasn’t perfect, of course. He had a tendency to force awful throws that would often times lead to costly interceptions. Some of the hits that he endured stemmed from his unwillingness to get rid of the ball in urgent circumstances. He liked to take risks while also being at risk often times. 

All hope shouldn’t be lost for Indy. Jacoby Brissett has a once in a lifetime opportunity in front of him and I’m positive that he realizes that. The roster is promising and it puts Jacoby in a much better position than the one he found himself in two years ago. He’s got a cannon that’ll be a perfect match for the revered deep-threat, T.Y Hilton. 

It’ll take time to get used to hearing “Brissett to Hilton” instead of “Luck to Hilton”. I’ll tell you right now that it doesn’t have the same ring to it. Not even close. Seeing #12 light up defenses with his surgical approach, scrambling ability, and laser dimes was beyond special. It’s all the things that made scouts fall in love with him when he was coming out of Stanford. 

I think about all the comebacks that Luck successfully capped off, especially the miraculous upheaval against the Chiefs in the 2013 postseason. I think of his tenacious competitiveness and his leadership that the team constantly rallied around. I think of the dumpster fire that he walked into after Manning’s departure and how well he handled it, leading the Colts to the postseason in his rookie year. Most of all, I think of the numerous players and coaches that speak so highly of him. 

There’s a quote made by hall of fame running back, Barry Sanders, when he decided to retire after 10 seasons. 

“My desire to exit the game is greater than my desire to remain in it.”

Simple, to the point and applicable to this situation. The obvious dynamic that separates the two cases is that Luck’s decision possesses the factor of health concern. He stated during his press conference that “part of his journey going forward will be figuring out how to feel better.”

Luck may return to football. Maybe he just needs a break. Maybe he really is done for good. If the retirement is indeed set in stone, then may we cherish his brief yet brilliant career. It’s funny to think that one of the most humble players in the league has become the centerpiece of the NFL world.

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