By Jerraud Powers
2012. We just came off of a terrible 2011 season that got a great coaching staff and front office fired. Peyton Manning got released that off season. Jim Irsay hired Ryan Grigson and Chuck Pagano, as general manager and head coach. All the talk that off season was about a “can’t miss QB prospect” out of Stanford. Everyone was raving how good this kid was and how he might be the best QB prospect since Peyton Manning himself. Before the Colts front office decided to cut Peyton, I remember having conversations with some of the key veterans on the team about, “What if” Peyton gets healthy, he could stay and mentor Andrew Luck. First response I got from that theory was, “Peyton isn’t doing that, he would rather get cut than do that.” So there I was thinking, “If you cut Peyton, the city will lose its mind. Luck better have some damn luck and be good.” lol
Fast forward through the off season, the Colts drafted Luck with the #1 pick and the “Build a Monster” slogan had begun. My first impression of Luck was how smart he was to be so young. The guy was making checks and leading from day 1. It also helped that he had a guy like Reggie Wayne still there, who wanted to prove to everyone that he was one of the best WRs to play this game no matter if his QB was Peyton or a rookie from Stanford. (I want to say Reggie had one of his best years as a pro in 2012, over 1300 yards and over 100 receptions.) At Andrew’s first training camp the defense probably picked him off 5 or 6 times that day. I remember walking to the locker room and Andrew stopped me to talk about practice. The guy drilled me with questions about the defense and what indicators he might be giving off that alerted us. He went to each person who got a pick that day and asked them the same questions. This was my 4th year and the only QB I played with who did that was Peyton. Everybody in the building was impressed and knew from the first day of training camp, that he would be the franchise QB who everyone hoped for.
Another thing that people in the building noticed was that Andrew didn’t need football. He had an Agricultural Engineering degree from Stanford. His dad is a former QB, who had been involved with football, whether it was being the CEO of the XFL league or being the athletic director at West Virginia. From my perspective, Andrew was a guy who was great at football but never needed football. Some players need football and there’s a difference. Some players play simply because of the love they have for the sport and when that love is gone, it’s gone. The last four years for Andrew have been rough. Lacerated spleen, multiple muscle pulls in his abdomen, and a torn labrum. Injuries can have a mental effect on you and how you see the game. You start to think about the future more and more after each injury. You begin to doubt yourself and ask yourself if it’s worth it. You realize how young you are and how much you want to live. Andrew needs a mental break. He needs to get healthy. Some people think he will come back eventually. I don’t think Andrew will look back. For someone with generational talent, I wish his career didn’t end the way it did, with fans booing him because of a leaked report about him announcing his retirement. They didn’t even give the man a chance to have his family there with him. I hope Andrew finds his peace.