You were chosen because you were the best among men. Becoming a symbol of hope, you held the mantle with valor and stormed into battle time and time again.  Dignified and courageous you put your body, mind, and heart to the test to protect those who entrusted you with such a role to play. Time and time again adversity struck, and the odds seemed stacked against you. Yet you wouldn’t give up, you’d always get back up and continue the fight. You shocked the world when you came back, and you at times made the impossible, possible.

Yet, these battles took a tremendous toll and they caused you to become weary of your position. You started thinking about the life you could have, the life you wanted. Broken but not defeated, you found that there’s more to life than dawning a mask and fighting the fights others commend you for. The selfless became selfish and the man who would never throw in the towel ends up quitting. It doesn’t sound right; it doesn’t seem like the ending we imagined yet there’s something noble in it.

You entrusted your title to a close friend, and you left us with a bittersweet ending that will always feel too soon. You were always worthy; I hate to see my captain go but I’ll wish him a happy life.

I find it sort of ironic that in the fictional version of this tale, the one that we have every opportunity to author the narrative to our desires; we cheer the hero’s departure. When we change the setting to reality and have to account the tragedy of serendipity and the abandonment of idealistic circumstances and still in this instance the hero gets boos from the onlooking crowd.

For anyone confused, I’m not talking about this lovable bearded captain.

I’m talking about this bearded captain.

Image result for andrew luck parks and rec

The Story

Andrew Luck is certainly an interesting character in the world of sports entertainment. Luck introduction to NFL was as a prodigy and was highly allotted as a character of prophecy. Andrew Luck was the son of Oliver Luck a former NFL quarterback with little notoriety to his career, but he established a friendship with one of his teammates Archie Manning. Andrew Luck was attending Peyton Manning’s QB camp since he was a child and like a Greek tragedy the story starts to go off the rails with its cartoon-ish circumstances.

Andrew Luck grows up to become one of histories greatest QB prospects in recent memories: he has high intelligence (4.0 GPA in Architecture at Stanford) and has the arm strength, accuracy, speed, played in Jim Harbaugh’s pro-style offense  and great personal character. He’s everything you’d ever ask for in choosing your franchise QB. This prompts the league to mock it’s worst teams to spend the year to “suck for Luck” and earn the prize of having what everyone claims to be as close of a guarantee as you can get at once in a lifetime generational talent leading your team to victory.

The winners of the suck for Luck sweepstakes is of course the Indianapolis Colts… wait the football prodigy is going to one of the most winning franchises of the decade and a team only a couple years removed from a Super Bowl performance?

The Colts were and always will be Peyton Manning’s team. Manning was putting on playoff campaign after playoff campaign having multiple MVP seasons and smashing league records but that would stop in 2011 when he would have season ending surgery on his neck…. A not so fun injury to have to say the least. The Colts would play on that season replacing one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time with: The Tin man, the scarecrow, and the cowardly lion (if you know, you get it) and go an expected 2-14.

Image result for the wizard of oz scarecrow tin man and lion

With the Sheriff returning and a new shiny toy coming to town you think you have the most win-win quarterback situations in NFL history. You can have Peyton finish his career and keep the team at a high level and give Luck a valuable mentor to learn the ropes. At least that’s how I thought it could have gone down… it went down like this.

Image result for i don't want to play with you anymore

I don’t think people have considered how difficult it is to be the predecessor of someone beloved and considered great. Imagine going to a Beyoncé concert and then having someone approach you and go “ So uh, Beyoncé’s vocal cords aren’t up to perform tonight but you know… show goes on so….. could you go out there”. NO! Imagine having to go out there in front of a stadium full of people who all are expecting and hoping you’re: half as good, just as good, or even better than Beyoncé?

Despite having the worst GM in the history of the NFL, a coach who is going to be remember as calling the worst play in football history, and an owner who looks like Colonel Sanders if cocaine was part of the secret recipe for the start of his career he was one of the league’s finest passers.

 What Makes Luck So Great?

I think there’s two qualities that I want people to know if they don’t know the story of Andrew Luck. Number #1 Andrew Luck is the ultimate competitor.

Andrew Luck’s career sits at a 57-37 record (.606) but despite Luck’s athleticism it was not a easy task earning those victories. Andrew Luck produced 21 fourth-quarter game-winning drives and coming up clutch when he needed to perform the most. Donnie Avery against the Lions, Vick Ballard against Tennessee, Reggie Wayne in the Chuckstrong game against the Packers there’s so many iconic moments in such a brief career because, gosh darn Luck does not know when to throw in the towel or at least he always refused to. No game shows this then the playoff game against the Chief which is going to hopefully be the immortalizing moment of Luck’s career once the shock of his retirement blows over.

In this game you can quickly see, things didn’t go the Colts way. It’s difficult to continue knowing today just isn’t your day and all your hard work throughout the season is slowly bleeding out before your eyes. Luck never got discouraged, and knew for the fans, for his team, and for himself he couldn’t be satisfied without at least trying to make the impossible happen. I think even if you’re not a sports fans I think these highlights show a tremendous effort of willpower and facing adversity no matter the result.

The second thing I want people to know about Andrew Luck is…. Andrew Luck is a GOOBER. Andrew Luck has always been somewhat controversial in the sports world but only because of he hyped up status entering the league. I get it why some fans are bitter about the amount of praise and adulation he received over their beloved QB but very little people have a problem with Luck’s character on and off the field.

Andrew Luck honestly acts like a kid from the 1800s made the Shazam deal but instead of a superhero became the perfect modern-day quarterback. Luck’s certainly a special breed… how many people among us after signing a $140 million-dollar contract would buy a new phone. Probably most of us…. But how many of us would get a flip phone???

Andrew Luck is so wholesome in his interests it minds boggling, we think of sports often being a platform for fame, and fostering ego, and intensity…. So Luck off the field does the “Andrew Luck Book club” which is a website, podcast, and social pages where he takes the time to promote and talk about books he enjoys while encouraging others to do the same.

Luck became a figure of beyond excellent sportsmanship because as you watch him mic’d up you can clearly see what a lovable dork he is, then the brutal hits that make you certainly cringe in hindsight, to seeing a montage of him congratulating his opponents who hit him. I’m sure there’s a lot of great high character guys in sports and across the world but Luck truly is something special.

While short… this video pretty much sums up why I appreciate the man off the field and just how unabashedly himself he is.

A Modern-Day Sports Tragedy

Andrew Luck’s torn Labrum put heavy speculation on whether he would ever be the same high caliber player again. Despite some close games the Colts season seemed lost after a 1-5 start. It ended with a miracle run, going 10-6 and winning a must-win game against the Titans the last week of the season and beating the division rival Texans in the first round before running into highly skilled Chiefs team finally ending an incredible season.

I think to quote the man himself, after what appears to be his final game of his career against the Chiefs in a 31-13 loss seems to bitterly summarize the result of Luck’s career:

“Certainly not the start we wanted, not the middle we wanted, and not the finish we wanted. So there’s a little bit of a tough pill to swallow. But no shame from the guys in that locker room you know heads… heads are up high”

I don’t want to sound ungrateful, but I really wish I got to see him hoist that Lombardi trophy just once. Not in a selfish way that validates my devotion, but for a class act guy who’s struggled and endured the pain to get a least one moment on top so that he knows it was all worth it. Life isn’t fiction though; the narrative doesn’t reflect our idyllic desires; the narratives are made in reflection to the true outcome.

To some this is a story of betrayal, booing a man who they see abandoned them. For some it is a story about what could have been, an almost certain HOF career and decent shots of Super Bowl glory. To me it’s about a good-hearted man, a worthy man starting a family with his wife, expecting a kid and aspiring to travel the world and no longer subject himself to personal turmoil for the sake of others. It’s about a humble man who faced any obstacle and rose to the occasion when the people who depended on him needed him most and simply did it to the tune of just trying his best.

Andrew Luck will be someone whose passion and character on and off the field is someone I’m glad to say I admire and while I admit it sucks to watch him go…. I hope he enjoys life after football, everyone should feel justified in pursuing their own happiness (given that happiness is legal) and I hope him getting the chance to smell the roses and look back at all he did accomplish can feel like a great victory.

Andrew Luck may no longer be the Colts Quarterback, but he will forever be my Captain.

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