In the third quarter of an Indianapolis Colts preseason game, the crowd was paying less and less attention to the game as news broke of Pro Bowl quarterback Andrew Luck retiring. The 29 year old Colt retired due to the constant pain he was living in. Instead of questioning the merits of a man making the best decision for him, let’s rewind and appreciate what Andrew Luck gave to the NFL.
Luck was a number one overall pick tasked with doing the impossible in replacing Peyton Manning in Indianapolis. Manning brought the Colts a championship, eleven winning seasons, and four MVP awards in 13 seasons. Manning is also the Colts all-time leader in passing yards and touchdowns. Luck had to fight his way from under Manning’s shadow in Indianapolis, but it didn’t take long for the former Standford quarterback to impress.
In his first season, Luck was a Pro Bowler by leading his team to an 11-5 record. While he threw 18 interceptions, his 4374 passing yards and 23 touchdowns were enough to prove his talent was for real. The NFL quickly noticed how clutch the young quarterback was with his league leading 7 game winning drives. His greatest game winning drive would come a year later in the playoffs when he went on to lead the Colts from a 28-point deficit to defeat the Kansas City Chiefs 45-44.
Andrew Luck once led one of the most epic comebacks in NFL history.
Down 28 in the third quarter to the Chiefs, the Colts fought their way back behind Luck to advance in the playoffs 💪
— B/R Gridiron (@brgridiron) August 25, 2019
Andrew Luck would continue his development as one of the best young quarterbacks in the NFL. In his first three seasons, Luck went to three Pro Bowls, led the Colts to the playoffs every year, and averaged 4319 passing yards and 27 touchdowns. However, in 2015 Luck started getting hit with the injury bug.
A lacerated kidney would keep Luck out for most the year as he only played seven games. Across those games, Luck compiled a 2-5 record with 15 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. The injury clearly plagued him that season, and it would eventually lead to the cycle of pain he would eventually retire from. When he would return, Luck was the unfortunate recipient of a bad offensive line.
Physical toll on Andrew Luck through 6 NFL seasons:
» Torn cartilage in 2 ribs
» partially torn abdomen
» a lacerated kidney that left him peeing blood
» at least 1 concussion
» a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder
» and this mysterious calf/ankle issue that led to this
— Zak Keefer (@zkeefer) August 25, 2019
From 2012 to 2018, Luck has been sacked 174 times in 86 games, including two seasons in which he was sacked 40 or more times. For context, Tom Brady has played 108 games in that span and been sacked 197 times. It may not seem massive, but before the 2018 season, Luck was getting sacked on 5.5 percent of passing plays, whereas Brady was getting sacked on 4.7 percent of passing plays. The only positive from being sacked this much was that Luck was always cordial when he was sacked
We'll miss Andrew Luck's sportsmanship.
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) August 25, 2019
This consistent pressure doesn’t mean that it turned Luck “soft” or “injury prone”. It simply led to lingering injuries that would irritate him until this day. The greatness of Luck is that he was able to lead a Colts team that consistently let him down. Whether it be a sack, a lack of a running game, or an eventual collapse of the defense, Luck was able to overcome those obstacles to give the team everything he had, including some absolutely incredible throws.
— Steve Palazzolo (@PFF_Steve) August 25, 2019
Much like other superstars who retire young, Luck will be remembered for what could have been more than what he already gave to the game. He gave a franchise who lost their best quarterback five winning seasons and an AFC Championship appearance. He gave Indianapolis a man who not only dazzled on the field but gave back to the community. He gave the NFL a marketable personality who defined what a modern pocket passer is.
He was the definition of a franchise quarterback and handled everything with class, including fans booing him as he left the field of the preseason game. With a tearful goodbye, Luck moves onto the next chapter of his life. While it is disappointing that a talent like him is moving on from the NFL, but he is making the best decision for himself and you can’t blame him for that. Let’s just be glad we were able to witness true greatness for even a little bit.