INDIANAPOLIS – It’s a rare weekend for the Luck family.
Parents Oliver and Kathy, along with their four children, will be in the same place for longer than merely a post game get together in the back hallways of an NFL stadium.
It’s simply a coincidence that Oliver and Kathy’s oldest daughter, Mary Ellen, will graduate from Stanford University on the same weekend as Father’s Day.
Raising four children spread across the United States is no easy task, especially when you consider the eldest of the group has ascended to become one of the most popular athletes in the NFL.
Nowadays, Andrew and Oliver talk about three-to-four times a week. A relationship that is approaching 25 years old got its early foundation started across the pond.
Life In Europe
There was no hesitation from the Luck parents in making the move to Europe.
Not when Kathy had spent more than half of the first 32 years of her life outside of the United States (mainly in London and Holland).
Oliver, who knew German, didn’t expect his family, with a young Andrew and more kids on the way, to ultimately spend a decade in Europe, but that ended up being the case.
There would be trips back to the states for a week or two at a time during summer or around Christmas but besides that, the older kids were exposed to the European culture for a majority of their childhood.
While there’s literature on kids who spend ‘X’ amount of years overseas, Oliver sees a couple of distinct characteristics from his children.
“I do think at the end of the day that living outside the U.S. probably creates a little bit of natural inquisitiveness or curiosity because you do see different things,” Oliver says.
“It creates open-mindedness or tolerance because you realize there are different ways to skin the cat.”
Meeting The Manning’s
The question of “replacing” Peyton Manning is something that
He doesn’t consider it be one of his least favorite questions, due to the respect he has for the future Hall of Famer.
The Manning-Luck dynamic dates back to the early 1980s when Oliver, then a rookie with the Houston Oilers, served as a backup to veteran Archie Manning.
As teammates with the Oilers, Oliver got to know Archie’s two oldest sons (Cooper and Peyton) when they would make the trip up from New Orleans to hangout with their dad.
While Oliver has never had a specific conversation with Archie on raising a star signal caller, he got a first hand look back in Houston.
“I was the rookie quarterback so I was the gopher,” Oliver says recalling his early years in the NFL. “(Archie) would ask me to go take the boys out for ice cream or play mini golf. Not only did I get to know the two boys when they were little, but I watched how Archie interacted with them.
“It’s obvious that with his wife, they raised them extraordinarily well. I could see his action in raising them and I’m sure that had some sort of an effect on me.”
The Balancing Act
For Oliver, one of the biggest challenges he and his wife face is finding time to see each of their four children.
As Director of Athletics at West Virginia University, Oliver is in the early stages of leading an athletic department into a new conference.
Even with that, he says he’s missed just two of Andrew’s NFL games in-person.
Throw in a pair of daughters on the west coast and a 16-year old son playing soccer and the juggling act isn’t easy for the Luck’s.
“In today’s world, technology really allows you to be anywhere. It’s amazing how the lines between work and your private life is completely blurred but I think that’s good for some folks,” Oliver says.
“I certainly appreciate it because it allows me or my wife to jump on a plane and spend three days in California or make the drive to Indianapolis.”
When Andrew reached the NFL in the spring of 2012, Oliver’s president at WVU told him he should go to every game of his son’s that he can knowing that in 30 years, regret would be the only thought of missed games.
Oliver took that to heart, and it is a major reason why he cherishes any amount of time he gets with his family.
“It becomes more special the more wide spread and far flung your kids get. You appreciate how many times it works, maybe only three or four a year, when everybody can be in the same place at the same time for more than a half and hour.”
Father’s Day To The Luck’s
That time will span a few days this weekend for the Luck’s.
This offseason has provided a chance for Andrew to spend some extra time with his father.
In early April, the two headed back to Germany to start a Football Skills Camp, in a place that holds so many memories for the two of them.
Holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas don’t usually provide a chance for the Luck’s to gather as one and that’s why Sunday, Father’s Day, will be extra special.
“Like probably everybody else in the world, I think I have the best dad in the world,” Andrew says with a smile.
“I feel very lucky. He’s done a lot of things for me that I recognize and probably some things for me that I will never recognize but I know he’s always there for me. I really appreciate him.”