Andrew Luck is 28 years old. Over the last three years of his career, he’s played 22 out of a possible 34 games, counting this Sunday’s upcoming game that he’ll miss. A shoulder injury and the delayed decision to have surgery this January to try and fix it are keeping him off the field in the prime of his career. In reality, it seems more like the Colts’ incompetence that’s stunting his career.
On Wednesday night, Luck’s agent (and uncle) Will Wilson addressed rumors that Luck wanted to be traded, saying those were “simply false.” It was weird news to hear, because for a lot of people there wasn’t any context for it.
Nor should there have been. The rumors were pretty low level to begin with, but they made it onto the air via ESPN’s Mike and Mike show.
It’s been two years, almost to the day, that Luck first injured his shoulder. Since then, Luck and the Colts have followed a program alternating between rest and rehab and trying to play through it, before he finally had surgery this year. At that time, it was believed that he wouldn’t miss any time this season.
Things got real weird once the preseason started. Non-committal responses about Luck’s rehab and readiness were interspersed with reports that he was throwing again. In the middle of August, owner Jim Irsay weighed in with the strangest comments yet.
Irsay talked optimistically about Luck’s recovery, talking about how well he was progressing and that he’d be ready to start the season even if he wasn’t ready to play in the season opener against the Rams. Wait? What?
Then, Irsay made a cloudy allusion that Luck’s problems may all be in his head.
“It’s been said before all sports is played on a four-inch field between your ears. … It’s really important that we continue to help Andrew emotionally, mentally, get his confidence and his endorsement, deep down his rubber stamp (in) his heart of hearts because in the end that carries the biggest weight.”
Maybe it was just Irsay rambling, trying to say nothing much and butchering some simple platitudes in the process. Or maybe Luck’s just being cautious here since the decision to play through the injury before has clearly aggravated the situation.
The Colts have been bad for Luck’s career. It took the team five years to fire general manager Ryan Grigson, who failed to build a team around his franchise quarterback. Just how bad the Colts are without Luck was apparent in last Sunday’s 46-9 loss to the Rams. Chris Ballard, the new GM, has to rebuild the team from the ground up.
You can also question the decision to hang onto Chuck Pagano as head coach. He hasn’t had much to work with, but his team looks consistently outmatched from week to week. Luck or not, they didn’t look at all ready to play in Week 1.
And then there’s the team’s handling of Luck’s injury. Fans have never had a complete picture of when they can expect their franchise quarterback on the field fully healthy and ready to play.
Throughout all of this Luck’s camp has said nothing. Even the process of negotiating the six-year, $140 million contract he signed in June 2016 was remarkably leak free, something that almost never happens in the NFL. Shooting down this rumor was the first time Luck’s official reps have made any kind of comment on the state of the Colts.
"Andrew would not have signed a five-year extension last year if he was not committed to the Colts. Complete nonstory,” Wison said.
We’re no closer to knowing when Luck will play again, and we’re a long way off from a day when the Colts will be a legitimate contender again, because of the way they’ve handled everything from his injured shoulder to coaching to roster building.
Wilson’s comment should put the rumors to bed. Luck does not want to be traded away from the Colts. But looking at the state of the Colts franchise as someone who wants to see what Luck can become in the prime of his career, maybe he should be clamoring for a change of scenery.