Andrew Luck: The Best That Never Was

Late Saturday night, Adam Schefter announced that star quarterback Andrew Luck told his team, the Indianapolis Colts, that he would be retiring. Luck had suffered from injuries during his entire career, and he’d had enough. He leaves behind a fractured legacy and the sad knowledge that while he was always great, he could’ve been the greatest ever.

Andrew Luck: The Best That Never Was

When Andrew Luck came out of Stanford, he was hailed by many as the greatest quarterback prospect of all time. Mentally, he was brilliant. He went to Stanford on an academic scholarship and majored in architectural design. His Wonderlic score was 13 points higher than the average and his mental prowess shined through on the field.

Physically, he was no slouch either. At 6’4, 240 pounds, he ran a 4.6 40 yard dash and could make all the throws. If you went on Madden and created the perfect quarterback, he would probably be built and play a lot like Andrew Luck.

He wasn’t just a smart kid with a great combine either, he dominated at Stanford. In his three years as Stanford’s starting quarterback, he threw for nearly 10,000 yards, 82 touchdowns, and won 31 games. Andrew Luck was going to be the first overall pick of the draft regardless of which draft he came out in, and the Indianapolis Colts made that a reality in 2012.

Luck Goes Pro

It didn’t take long for Luck to prove he was going to be one of the NFL’s better quarterbacks. He took the Indianapolis Colts, who went 2-14 the season before and took them to the playoffs in his first year. In his first year as a starting quarterback, Luck threw for 4,374 yards and 23 touchdowns, leading the Colts to 11 wins and a playoff berth.

He wasn’t a fluke either, his stats took a dip in 2013, but the Colts still won 11 games and Luck won the AFC South for the first time. They went to playoffs and Luck pulled off one of the biggest comebacks in NFL history. At the start of the third quarter, the Kansas City Chiefs had a 38-10 lead, and it seemed like all was lost for the Colts. Then Luck stepped up and led the team back, ultimately winning 45-44. They’d lose to the New England Patriots a week later, but that doesn’t take away from Luck’s legendary Wild Card performance.

2014 was Luck’s breakout year. He recorded career highs in yardage (4,761) and touchdowns (40), and for the third straight year, won 11 games. Luck finally elevated from good-not-great to one of the better quarterbacks in football. They made it all the way to the AFC Championship game, even though they lost. It was in 2015 where Luck’s troubles started.

Bad Luck

Luck started the 2015 season on the sideline with a busted up the shoulder. In late November, he was diagnosed with a lacerated kidney and missed the rest of the season and sadly, it was the beginning of a bad trend for Luck and the Colts.

He missed one game with a concussion, but had surgery in the off-season to repair the shoulder that had been bothering him since 2015. The shoulder kept him out for all of 2017 and people began wondering if Luck would ever play again.

Then 2018 happened and it was the old Andrew Luck again. The Colts won ten games, Luck threw for 39 touchdowns and 4,593 yards with only 15 interceptions as Indianapolis returned to the post-season. With plenty of cap space, a solid roster, and a hall of fame caliber quarterback, the future of the Colts looked bright.

Farewell to a Great One

Then Luck announced his retirement and the NFL world stood still.

Luck had made his money, and he’d be in a pain cycle for the last four years. The process of hurting, healing, and getting hurt again had taken it’s toll on him and he was done. He didn’t love football anymore, and he felt the best path of action was to remove himself from the game entirely.

The Best That Never Was

What’s truly sad for fans of football is that Andrew Luck was so much better than we ever got to see. When the Colts struggled, Luck was giving his all for the team. We saw the great things he could do, like the 2014 season when he threw for 4,700 yards and 40 touchdowns or the 2013 Wild Card round when he took the team back from a 28 point deficit to beat the Kansas City Chiefs.

He had all the tools, but bad coaching, inept management, and injuries robbed him, and all of us, of one of the best football careers of all time. It’s sad for all of us, especially the Colts fans, to see Luck walk away from the game, but maybe we should appreciate that he’s walking away at all.

Many players don’t even have the choice, and limp away from the game with a ton of irreparable damage. Luck is a very smart young man, he’s not exactly poor, and there are many ways he can still make the world a better place. And who knows? Maybe down the road… Captain Luck will ride again.

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