Shock, denial, disappointment; all emotions felt by Colts fans everywhere on Saturday evening, following the news of Andrew Luck’s premature retirement at 29 years old.
Colts fans, however, are no stranger to these emotions. From the abrupt end to the Peyton Manning era in Indy to a complete rebuild, to the cancer diagnosis of first year head coach Chuck Pagano, to the tragic death of 26 year old linebacker Edwin Jackson, to Josh McDaniels spurning the franchise at the last minute, Colts fans have been subjected to quite the roller-coaster ride and similar shock countless times. Following the all-too familiar shock and disappointment that is certain to come with the retirement of a 29 year old star franchise QB, it’s time to turn focus to the legacy Luck leaves behind and what his time in Indianapolis has meant to the ever-passionate Colts Nation and the city of Indianapolis.
For a whole generation of Colts fans who became fans because of the great Peyton Manning, including myself, Andrew Luck was there to ensure a smooth transition into life without Peyton and quickly ascend the Colts right back into a playoff quality team. I can remember vividly seeing Andrew Luck play at Stanford and thinking “Wow I wish he could be a Colt”. Little did I know, the Manning era would be coming to an end soon thereafter and Andrew Luck would become the epitome of what it means to be a Colt. While no one could’ve envisioned Luck retiring just seven years after he was selected 1st overall by Indianapolis in 2012 NFL Draft, it’s hard to look back on his career and not smile from ear to ear.
This is a guy who gave everything he had to his organization from the day one. This is a guy who put a team and franchise on his back in his rookie year, shattering countless records, en route to a Cinderella story playoff appearance, followed by one of the greatest comeback in NFL playoff history the following year. The future of the Colts seemed to be all but set, as they climbed as high as the AFC Championship Game in the 2014-2015 season, but that’s when everything changed. Injuries began to build up for the young phenom.
A kidney and shoulder injury kept Luck out for most of the 2015 season. Then came 2016, where Luck played through a myriad of injuries, as the true competitor that he is, which may have ultimately led to his undoing. The most complicated part of the Luck saga began shortly thereafter when a lingering shoulder injury led to uncertainty and an ultimately lost 2017 season. Finally came 2018, when a healthy Luck, with the help of a new found young core, carried the Colts to wins in ten of their last twelve games, including a playoff victory over Houston, after a 1-5 start.
Andrew Luck had proven his toughness and ability to bounce back from just about anything. All appeared to be sunny in Indianapolis yet again and just when hope and optimism seemed to be at their peak for the Colts, yet more uncertainty began when a new calf/ankle injury bothering Luck could not be pinpointed. Everyone assumed this would just be a brief setback that would be figured out by the regular season. But then came Saturday, August 24th:
Shortly before 9:30 PM EST, Andrew Luck stood on the sideline, as his Colts battled former head coach (now Chicago Bears DC) Chuck Pagano when Adam Schefter broke the news on twitter and sent shock-waves throughout the sports world. Frantic Colts fans began checking and searching for any verification of this report and sure enough an hour or so later, Andrew Luck took to the podium and that just like that, his NFL career was over.
Andrew Luck was everything to a franchise and its fans; a leader, a winner, a class act, a community philanthropist and the face of the franchise. This and his deep love for the game of football are why it’s so easy to accept his decision and be excited for his future. If this is how he feels, he must really hurt and must really need to let go of this great game he loves and move on to bigger and better things.
God speed, Andrew. Go live the life you want to live.