INDIANAPOLIS – The Colts' season ended with a Wild Card loss in Baltimore in early January, but Andrew Luck had a feeling that game might not be his last as a rookie.
As a Pro Bowl first alternate, a call would be placed to Luck if any of the three quarterbacks selected could not attend.
That eventuality happened after this past weekend when New England's Tom Brady dropped out of the Pro Bowl following an injury in the AFC Championship game against New England.
Luck was geographically prepared.
"I figured it was a good possibility," said Luck Thursday in a conference call from Honolulu. "I didn't want to fly all the way from Indianapolis if it happened. I flew out to the West Coast and hung out at Stanford until I got the call."
Luck, who had resided in 13 different houses by age 11 largely because of his father's career in the World League of American Football and NFL Europe, was pleased to get the call for competitive and geographic reasons.
"I was very excited," said Luck. "It's an honor to be here, to play in this game. I'd never been to Hawaii before. (It's) a chance to go to Hawaii and have a great time."
Luck continues a great quarterbacking lineage for the Colts in the Pro Bowl, joining John Unitas, Earl Morrall, Bert Jones, Jim Harbaugh and Peyton Manning. Of the group, he is the only rookie to make the game.
Luck will share quarterbacking duties with Manning and Houston's Matt Schaub in Sunday's game. He took practice squad quarterback Chandler Harnish as a guest. Backup Drew Stanton was invited but declined to go because of a newborn son in the family.
Manning had eleven Pro Bowl nominations with the Colts, breaking Unitas' record by one, and he played in all but one appearance.
Manning always placed an emphasis on appearing whenever he was voted into the game. The lone time he could not play was in 2009 when the Colts were in Super Bowl XLIV. He owns the Pro Bowl career records for completions, attempts, yards and touchdowns.
This week he spoke to all participants about the privilege of appearing in the Pro Bowl, and that sentiment is shared by Luck.
"It's very important. To me it's an honor to be here, to be around your peers, the guys who are doing incredible things in this league," said Luck. "It's definitely something important."
Players practice in the morning then generally have the rest of the day. Luck will be coached by the Denver staff, and some of the best experiences come at the players' hotel where stories, anecdotes and pranks are pulled poolside.
Luck is joined in the game by two Indianapolis teammates, Reggie Wayne and Robert Mathis. In addition to Wayne, his targets at receiver include Cincinnati's A.J. Green, Houston's Andre Johnson and Denver's Demaryius Thomas. Green and Johnson start, so Wayne and Thomas may be Luck's two most likely receiving targets.
Luck reflected on the season and wishes he were busy next Sunday in New Orleans rather than this Sunday in Honolulu. He found it gratifying to be in the hunt late in the season and playing on the first Sunday in January.
Luck only would have found it a satisfying rookie year if he and his full-time teammates were playing on the first Sunday in February.
Though sad to lose Bruce Arians to Arizona, he is happy to welcome new coordinator Pep Hamilton. Hamilton and Luck were together at Stanford.
"He's a great, quality human being. He's going to work his butt off on the game plan, on football," said Luck. "I'm very, very happy for Pep to be here now."