INDIANAPOLIS – It goes through Chris Ballard's head every time he sees a team build up what appears to be an insurmountable lead.
January 4, 2014.
The Chiefs led the Colts 38-10 early in the third quarter of a Wild Card matchup.
At that point of the game, odds makers had the Chiefs' winning percentage just a tick under 100 percent.
Andrew Luck thought otherwise.
Chris Ballard remembers that Saturday evening all too well. Back then Ballard was in his first season as the Chiefs Director of Player Personnel.
That first year ended when Luck orchestrated one of the greatest comebacks in NFL postseason history.
"I think about (that Wild Card loss) all the time, whenever there's a game out of reach," Ballard now admits.
"I watched (Luck) play brilliantly. He was unbelievable that day."
The impression Luck made on Ballard that day unquestionably had some influence this past January, when Ballard took the open general manager position in Indianapolis.
Luck's influence in making Indy an attractive working environment continued in free agency.
No matter where new wide receiver Kamar Aiken traveled in free agency for visits, Luck's name kept on coming up.
"I have heard nothing but great things about him," Aiken says of his quarterback. "I actually took some visits and was able to sit down with some players from other teams and they spoke highly of him. That put it in perspective of how people around the league feel about him.
"I want to play with somebody that is great and that has the work ethic that wants to win and wants to see his receivers be successful. You don't want to go to a place where they have quarterback problems and this is a place where they don't have quarterback problems. That was definitely a big key for me in wanting to go someplace where the quarterback is established."
It's not just the offensive players that are signaling out Luck as a reason for their new NFL home.
Inside linebacker Sean Spence has played in Pittsburgh and Tennessee, and has seen first-hand the competitive nature of Luck.
"I remember when I was back in Pittsburgh and we played (the Colts)," Spence begins. "We beat (the Colts) pretty bad and jumped out to an early lead. We were hitting Luck a lot and sacking him and knocking him down. When we turned on film the next day, that Monday, he never flinched. He never backed out of a throw. He never curled up before he threw the ball. He stood strong in the pocket. I respected him. I respected him even much more.
"Playing him twice last year (in Tennessee), I have even more respect for him. I am just happy that I get to play alongside him."
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