INDIANAPOLIS — By the time Andrew Luck was 11 years old, he had lived in 13 houses spread across at least three countries and two continents.
So when the 2012 NFL Draft rolled around, Luck, then 22, was prepared for the life changes coming his way perhaps better than any other prospect on the board.
The Indianapolis Colts had the No. 1-overall selection that year, and Luck knew there was a good chance he’d be their guy. He also knew that if and when that came to fruition, he’d have the daunting task of trying to replace one of the greatest quarterbacks of all-time.
Luck, indeed, was selected with the first pick in that year’s NFL Draft, and he instantly began wrestling with the idea of not only getting to Peyton Manning’s level as both a playmaker and a team leader, but as a pillar of the community.
Luck this week talked about that mindset from his rookie year in an interview with former teammate Joe Reitz on Colts.com’s “The Reitz Stuff.”
“I was nervous as a rookie, and (to) come in after Peyton, one of the all-time great quarterbacks and certainly a guy who left an incredibly positive mark civically … on the city of Indianapolis, and from I understand, really made it, in part, a football state,” Luck said.
It didn’t take long for Luck to realize that he didn’t need to be Peyton Manning — or anybody else for that matter.
Luck was given the opportunity to forge his own path both as a player and out in the community, and said he never could’ve imagined the level of support he’s felt from those in his newest home city and state, which has extended to his girlfriend, Nicole, as well.
“You know, I was nervous, but to be embraced by the folks here and to have the chance to enjoy life and to enjoy football has been really great for Nicole and I,” Luck said.
Since stepping onto the field for rookie minicamp back in 2012 through leading the team to its 42-28 road victory over the Oakland Raiders on Sunday, Luck has certainly proven he can be one of the more productive quarterbacks in the NFL. Halfway through this season, he ranks tied for first in the NFL in passing attempts, is second in completions, 10th in passing yards and is second in touchdowns.
But Luck has been able to make his mark off the field, as well. Like Manning, Luck’s philanthropic efforts are mostly centered on the health and well-being of children, as evidenced by his partnership with Riley Children’s Health and their “Change The Play” challenge, kids club and camps.
Along the way, Luck has developed a deep love and appreciation for the city of Indianapolis and what it means to be a Hoosier.
“I think as a kid I learned to sort of at least try and appreciate living in a different place, so when I was drafted by the Colts, I was excited to come to the Midwest, I was excited to come to the state of Indiana, and I’ve really, really enjoyed it — not just me, but my girlfriend, as well,” Luck said. “I mean, this is going into our seventh year here, and we love it. I think downtown Indianapolis is a gem in the Midwest and this state that folks don’t know too much about.”
Luck’s current Colts team has a little bit of that same mojo as it pertains to its perception across the NFL landscape.
Winners of two straight, Indy heads into the bye week at 3-5 playing its best football of the season. And with five divisional matchups waiting for them over the course of the second half of the season, Luck knows full well anything can happen from now until the clock strikes zeroes on Dec. 30 in the team’s 2018 regular season finale against the Tennessee Titans.
Luck says he’s using the bye week as an “opportunity to physically recover and sort of get a bit of an emotional and mental break,” but he’s certainly not taking his foot off the gas pedal too much — and he isn’t expecting his teammates or coaches to, either.
“If I’ve learned anything about bye weeks, it’s that you can’t stop your routine too much,” he said. “You’ve got to continue to work. Maybe you take the intensity down, maybe take the volume down — you play with that — but I know the challenge for us as a team is to come back on Monday a better team than when we left this past Monday.
“We’ve got great opportunities ahead of us, and (I’m) excited about the direction of the team.”