Wisch: Why Andrew Luck Isn’t So Lucky

By Dave Wischnowsky –

(CBS) He’s about to become a multimillionaire. An entire city – heck, state – is ready to shower him with adoration. And, so far, he’s led quite the charmed life during the 22 years that he’s been living it.

Heck, the kid is even named Luck.

Despite all that, however, I’m not sure just how fortunate Andrew Luck actually is these days.

Because, when you survey the scene that the Stanford quarterback will be walking into if the Indianapolis Colts do make him the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft as expected, it’s easily packed with more pressure than a truck full of oxygen tanks.

In fact, considering everything that’s heaped on Luck’s plate right now, I’d argue that the 6-foot-4, 230-pound Texas native is facing more pressure than any lone rookie star in the history of football.

Perhaps more than any rookie in any sport has endured.

After all, not only has Luck been declared a can’t-miss All-Pro since his sophomore season and christened as the greatest QB prospect to come out of college in years, he’s also about to bear the burden of being a No. 1 pick, which has already sunk many men.

Oh, and he also has that little issue of filling some Manning-sized shoes in Indy.

All of that adds up to a load that could break anyone’s back.

No matter how sturdy it might be.

This season, if the Colts do select him No. 1, Luck will either be competing for a starting job with 36-year-old Peyton Manning or labeled as the guy who essentially forced perhaps the greatest quarterback of all-time to leave town.

Now, the last time that a situation similar to that unfolded was in 2008 when the Packers’ Brett Favre retired – and then, you know, unretired – sparking a quarterback controversy with Aaron Rodgers, the team’s chosen successor.

Ultimately, Favre was traded to the N.Y. Jets before the season and Rodgers went on to greatness of his own after filling Brett’s sizable shoes. But keep in mind that prior to 2008, Rodgers had three full seasons to both mentally and physically prepare to follow Favre.

He didn’t have to turn that trick as a rookie, and he also didn’t have that No. 1 pick label tattooed on his back (Rodgers was chosen 24th overall by Green Bay).

Scanning the successors of other great QBs in recent years, you’ll find that when Brian Griese followed John Elway in Denver, no one expected him to be John Elway. Same deal in Miami when Jay Fiedler took over for Dan Marino.

In Indy, however, it’s pretty much expected that, with Luck, the guy succeeding Peyton Manning will be just like Peyton Manning.

And, man, is that asking a lot.

When Joe Montana left San Francisco, Steve Young fared so well in following him that Young eventually made the Hall of Fame himself. However, Young had already spent several years as Montana’s understudy prior to taking over the 49ers’ leading role.

He wasn’t a rookie. None of those guys succeeding those all-time greats were.

But Andrew Luck will be. And no matter how gifted the guy is, one has to expect that he would have his growing pains this season no matter what franchise he joined. To assume that Luck won’t have them while quarterbacking a bad Colts team and standing in the pocket where Peyton has long stood is pretty ridiculous.

Really, of all the No. 1 overall picks in any sport, the only guy I can think of whose instant expectations and overwhelming pressure compares to Luck’s is LeBron James.

But in Cleveland, LeBron wasn’t following a legend with the Cavaliers. Rather, he was able to begin creating his own.

If only Andrew was so lucky.

davewisch Wisch: Why Andrew Luck Isn’t So Lucky

Dave Wischnowsky

If nothing else, Dave Wischnowsky is an Illinois boy. Raised in Bourbonnais, educated at the University of Illinois and bred on sports in the Land of Lincoln, he now resides on Chicago’s North Side, just blocks from Wrigley Field. Formerly a reporter and blogger for the Chicago Tribune, Dave currently writes a syndicated column, The Wisch List, which you can check out via his blog at http://www.wischlist.com. Follow him on Twitter @wischlist and read more of his CBS Chicago blog entries here.

  • J-Dubya

    Couldn’t agree more. If this guy succeeds in his first 2-3 years I will be shocked.

    He’s talented, for sure. This is just a tough, tough, situation.

    • Dave Wischnowsky

      Like you, J-Dubya, I think he’s an excellent QB. But, man, if there was ever a situation built to break a guy, this is it. It’ll be very interesting to see how he fares.

      Also toss in the fact that he’s always going to be compared to RG3 and the amount of scrutiny and different angles he’s likely to feel pressure from really couldn’t be greater.

      • J-Dubya

        I am really high on RG3. I actually like him over Luck.

        I’m just saying….

  • TT

    Jim Harbaugh was replaced as the Colts starting quarterback in early 1998 when Indianapolis drafted Peyton Manning first overall pick!

  • Larry Horse's Arse

    Really excellent POV Dave….never considered the points you made.

  • Cj

    Once again, I also never considered the points you mentioned in this quite informative article-nice comparison on him and LBJ and his tougher situation of having to follow a mammoth in NFL history as opposed to just worrying about doing well himself. These next couple of months will really be a testament to the kind of man Luck is. As a Colts fan I couldnt be more apprehensive though.

  • Rifle

    Hi Dave…. good column.

    Its certainly a challenging spot for Andrew Luck as it would be for any QB following a future Hall of Famer.

    But what the Colts new front office braintrust could do, and what should have been done better by their predecessors is to build a more balanced football team. More run/pass balance on offense and a defense built to do more than just protect a lead that the QB and the passing attack provides.

    I think its fair to say that the Colts could have and should have won more than 1 Super Bowl with Peyton. And last year showed exactly how many deficencies Manning’s excellent play masked.

    But if new Colts GM Ryan Grigson plays this right and builds a more solid 53-man roster….Andrew Luck has shown that he is coldly efficient at the controls of a well balanced offense.

    This rebuild will take 1-2 offseasons… but I think the kid will be fine.

    • Dave Wischnowsky

      All great points, guys. And the roster that Luck will inherit in Indy — if he goes No. 1 and if Peyton is gone — is probably the biggest issue in all of this. It’s a truly bad team. A two-win one (they have the No. 1 pick for a reason, of course).

      I think if Luck can survive a roster overhaul and the initial (unrealistic) expectations likely to be placed on him, both physically and mentally, I think he can be a very good QB. That said, it’s IF he can do all that.

      We’ll see …

    • J-Dubya

      You are right about what the Colts should have done.

      A successful NFL team these days minimizes the importance of the QB. We don’t have a team with a “System” QB as we used to call them. Didn’t matter who was behind center because the system was so good. Probably not since Baltimore or Tampa Bay won it all.

      The Bears were really exposed when Cutler went down. Look at the AZ Cardinals after Warner left.

      The QB is just too important these days.

      With the Colts warts exposed, imagine what they could have done with Peyton under center if those things were addressed?

  • mrBIG

    OMG!! You have made us all dumber with this article.

    • Dave Wischnowsky

      Whew! Thanks goodness your comment brought intelligence back to this blog ;)

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