Pardon the expression, but aren’t local football fans lucky?
Consider that the Indianapolis Colts had Peyton Manning for more than a decade to lead the team to a Super Bowl title and record victory totals while being an all-around good guy.
Now, just after Manning rode off into the sunset, Andrew Luck comes along.
The Colts selected him with the first pick in last April’s NFL draft, so high expectations have naturally accompanied the former Stanford quarterback to Indianapolis.
But no one expected this midway through the season:
- Luck has led the Colts to a 6-3 record going into Sunday’s game in New England against the hated Patriots. If the season were to end today, the Colts would qualify for the playoffs a year after finishing 2-14. The dark season of 2011, though, veiled a ray of hope. By virtue of having the worst record, the Colts got the first pick in the draft and used it to take Luck.
- Luck is on pace to break the rookie record for passing yards and is in the discussion for the NFL’s Most Valuable Player award. How cool is that?
- Just as importantly, Luck has established himself as someone who is easy to root for. He is humble, smart, hard-working and plays with passion and fearlessness. It doesn’t hurt that he is a tremendous athlete who can make electrifying plays. And he has already become a leader, a role that it isn’t easy for a rookie to assume in the NFL.
Folks in Anderson got a close-up look at Luck during August’s training camp at Anderson University. They saw his development firsthand, and many chuckled when the national media fawned over Robert Griffin III, a quarterback taken second in the draft, just after Luck, by the Washington Redskins.
While Luck is exciting to watch, Griffin, with his world class speed, is more flashy. He’s easy to root for, too, and is having a great rookie season. But folks in these parts are plenty happy with Luck, whose disinclination to be involved in national advertising campaigns suits Midwestern sensibilities. The day might come when Luck, like Manning, becomes a marketing phenomenon. But for now, the kid is devoting all of this attention to getting this quarterbacking gig down. As Luck puts it, he really hasn’t accomplished anything yet.
After Indy hobbled to its 2-14 record in 2011 and then let Manning, other beloved players, Vice President Bill Polian and coach Jim Caldwell go, a lot of Colts fans looked to an uncertain future. Would the team be one they could continue to support?
The allegiance of some left with Manning for Denver, where the veteran quarterback is having another outstanding season. He’s still the same old Peyton, a step ahead of the defense and racking up touchdowns.
So, now we have two quarterbacks to root for: a veteran surefire Hall of Famer out West, and a rookie with a brilliant future here in Central Indiana.
It’s all good for local football fans.