Jeff Pearlman

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On the booing of Andrew Luck

Screen Shot 2019-08-24 at 10.20.33 PM

For the eight of you who missed this, earlier tonight it was announced that Andrew Luck, the veteran Colts quarterback, is retiring from the NFL at age 29.

When they learned the news, a good number of Indianapolis fans booed him.

Yes, booed him.

Shame.

Luck arrived in the league as the first overall selection in the 2012 draft, and the ensuing years have been alternating themes of brilliance and pain. That Luck has thrown for 23,671 yards and 171 touchdowns is remarkable when one realizes he missed the entire 2017 season and appeared in only seven games in 2015. The guy just couldn’t catch a break, and the organization hardly helped, routinely placing him behind some of the NFL’s worst lines. He was a pinata, waiting to be demolished.

And yet, no complaints, no gripes, no whines. The guy has been classy, honest, upfront, giving, supportive. He seems to be the rare player who crosses the myriad locker room lines—race, age, class, politics, position. Or, put differently, teammates loved Luck.

When I first saw the boos stream down upon Andrew Luck, I thought about conversations I’ve had with different retired NFL players through the years. Most, if not all, come to the inevitable realization that they are mere pieces of meat. There is no Jets Family or Raiders Family or Chiefs Family or Colts Family. Fan loyalty only lasts as long as you’re performing. The league doesn’t care if you ultimately suffer from collision-induced brain damage and will fight to the death to avoid paying a cent of your medical expenses. The booing of Andrew Luck is shocking in its rawness, but it’s not particularly shocking. Colts fans viewed Luck as you would a possession; a shiny toy purchased at Macy’s. As the guy who tossed 39 touchdown passes last season, he was the King of Indy.

As the guy who walked off the field, a ghost of the promise that once was, he was useless.

Andrew Luck was expired meat.

  • Paul C

    I will never forget Chuck Pagano seriously suggesting that Andrew Luck’s problems were Luck’s fault, because he should be “used to” the incompetence of his O-line by now. Pagano made many, many stupid statements during his tenure as Colts’ HC, but with that one remark he undid all the goodwill that ha’d acquired because of his battle with leukemia.

  • Paul C

    I would add that druggie owner Jim Irsay revealed that the team will not be seeking reimbursement of a prorated portion of Luck’s $32 million signing bonus, or the $12 million in roster bonuses he was paid in March. The team could have demanded reimbursement, and it was a menschlich move not to. They are to be applauded. The Lions, among other teams, hardballed the heck out of their early retirees (Sanders, Johnson). That may just be a Lions thing, but is there any possibility at all that skin color played any role in this disparate treatment?

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Once again, Jeff Pearlman has produced an exhaustively researched, elegantly written book that re-creates one of the most colorful and memorable teams of the modern era. No basketball fan's bookshelf will be complete without it.

— Seth Davis, author of Wooden: A Coach's Life