When Andrew Luck walked into Mt. Sinai Children’s Hospital the morning of the draft with his hands tucked inside his khaki pockets, you couldn’t help but think that this is the perfect Peyton Manning replacement in Indianapolis.
“He was my football hero growing up,” Luck said after he was selected. “I realize you don’t really replace a guy like that. Those shoes to fill are huge. I’m not going to go crazy trying to do everything that Peyton did. I realize we’re different personalities so I’ll put my best foot forward and try to work hard every day. If one day I can be mentioned alongside Peyton in the quarterback history, it would be a football dream come true.”
Humble. Intelligent. Driven. Those are the three words that best describe Luck.
Luck, along with 25 members of his draft class cohort, spent about 90 minutes at the hospital playing pool, Wii, and coloring with the children. It was a way to give back to the community, but as an added personal benefit, it relieved some built up anxiety.
It’s been known for months that the Colts would select Luck with the No. 1 overall pick. As soon as the team released Manning into the crazy world of free agency, the Colts set their first draft pick in stone. However, for Luck, the draft night nerves were still there.
When asked if he was glad that the Colts didn’t use the full ten minutes on the clock, Luck smiled and said, “Yes, I am.”
It turns out that it’s not just Andrew Luck vs. Peyton Manning. It’s the Luck’s vs. the Manning’s. The two families have been entangled for years dating back to when Andrew’s father, Oliver Luck, was backing up Archie Manning on the Houston Oilers. In fact, Oliver used to drive Peyton and his brothers to go get fast food.
"“Archie was a seasoned vet, you know, a great guy. And I guess Peyton and Cooper, his older brother, would come into town to Houston, and it was my dad’s job to drive them to McDonald’s in his Mazda … as the rookie backup quarterback.” – Andrew Luck to David Letterman (New York Post)"
Luck called Manning after the 2010 season at Stanford to seek out advice on whether he should return for his red-shirt junior season. The two high-profile quarterbacks have not talked since according to Luck.
Peyton’s numbers are already in the books in Indianapolis. As for Luck’s, the city has the pens in hand.
“I can’t wait,” Luck said. “I’m truly humbled and honored to represent the city, represent the team, and I’ll do it to the best of my ability.”
This pick isn’t about luck. This is about Luck making things happen when preparation meets opportunity.