Likely top pick Luck touches down in Indy, where he may call home
INDIANAPOLIS -- As if the strange coincidence of having the Super Bowl come to Indianapolis just as Peyton Manning's future hangs in the balance and the Colts continue remaking their organization wasn't enough, presumptive No. 1 overall draft pick and potential Manning replacement Andrew Luck arrived here Thursday to add one more layer of intrigue to the mix.
Luck, the Stanford quarterback who Colts owner Jim Irsay has repeatedly talked of drafting first overall, was scheduled to visit the Super Bowl city for just less than seven hours as part of a promotional stop with Gatorade and its testing regimen at its Sports Science Institute at the Super Bowl media center.
The Manning drama has provided a backdrop for Sunday's game, and Luck obviously could feature prominently in the Colts' decision on how to approach their future at quarterback -- with or without No. 18 being part of the equation. In a 10-minute one-on-one interview that was part of a series of such chats he held with media members Thursday, Luck said he has followed the unfolding Manning situation from afar only.
"I don't live in a cave, so definitely I have [followed it],'' he said, sitting on the top row of a section of bleachers in the Gatorade Sports Science Institute. "I have internet and watch TV, and if I'm walking by, I'll stop and see snippets. But I'm not completely educated on everything, and I don't know any secrets that no one else knows. I just see what's on TV every now and then.''
Luck said he has yet to meet Irsay, or have any contact in the pre-draft scouting process with anyone from the Colts. As a fourth-year junior, he was not eligible for last Saturday's Senior Bowl, and has spent the past few weeks training in Los Angeles for the NFL Scouting Combine.
Given that it now looks less likely all the time that he and Manning would both be on the Colts roster simultaneously, I asked Luck if it would rate a disappointment, or a positive development, clearing the way for him to start immediately in Indy?
"I haven't given that or the whole situation much thought,'' he said. "To me, my next step in this whole journey is the combine, preparing for it, and showing up and nailing it. Showing that I've taken it seriously and I'm not resting on any laurels from college. The step after that is the [Stanford] pro day in late March, and then after that is individual meetings [and workouts] with teams, and then the draft. That's the process I'm focusing on.''
Luck claimed to have not heard much about Irsay's comments regarding the Colts' intention to draft a franchise quarterback with their coveted No. 1 pick, even though Irsay has made it clear that Luck, and more recently, Heisman-winning Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III, will be the players under consideration.
Luck said he hopes the Colts' Manning decision resolves itself without him being involved in the process in any way, even though Indy is in essence now on the clock and could declare their draft intentions at any point.
"If they're saying things about me, I hope they're nice things,'' Luck said, laughing. "I haven't really heard much. I don't have Twitter and the social media stuff. I don't really get it that well. I don't have anything important to say.''
That's a matter of opinion, of course. I asked Luck if he was good in every way with the notion of playing for the Colts if they make him the top pick, and he said: "Absolutely, I'd love to be No. 1. Being a competitive guy, you want to be No. 1.''
But when I added the caveat of whether or not that meant he would never try to affect the outcome of which team he went to in the draft, Luck added: "Never is a strong word. But I haven't thought about that. There's a ways until something like that arose. I guess it would be.... I don't know. I guess I haven't really thought about it.''
It's just pre-draft speculation, of course, but there have been questions whether Andrew Luck's father, former NFL quarterback and current West Virginia University athletic director Oliver Luck, might try to steer his son to a team of their choosing, much like Archie Manning did in 2004 when his youngest quarterbacking son, Eli, didn't want to play for San Diego, which held the top pick. Eli Manning was dealt to the New York Giants in a first-round deal that year, and has now led his club to a second Super Bowl appearance in five seasons.
Luck said he feels ready for the scrutiny that the pre-draft process brings for the highest-rated prospects, which will commence in earnest in about three weeks, when the entire NFL descends on Indianapolis for the opening of the scouting combine.
"I understand it, and I'm very fortunate in that, one, I have coaches at Stanford who have coached in the NFL and have been on the other side of the table [in the interview and scouting process],'' Luck said. "I have them to lean on. And most importantly, my father has been there before and played in the NFL and is still very well connected in the sports business world with his position at West Virginia. I have him to lean on. So, yes, I do feel like I'm prepared. I'm sure there will be surprises along the way, but I feel I'm ready to handle it.''
Luck didn't really have time to soak up much Super Bowl week atmosphere in Indy on Thursday. He flew in by 8:30 a.m. and was scheduled to fly out by 3 p.m., with the time in between spent undergoing a whole battery of tests with Gatorade sports scientists.
And his favorite test? "To me the most interesting thing was the reaction time test,'' Luck said. "That's where it's not just your brain processing things, it's having your brain process a light and having your body move to that light, and them being able to measure everything. They give an overview and score of your reaction time. I'm not quick as a cat, but I made it out alive, so I'll call that a success. I learned a lot today. It was a great experience.''
Thursday was just a drive-by in what many presume to be his future home and place of employment, but Luck will be back in Indianapolis soon enough. How convenient that the combine is located right here in the nation's heartland. Will the coincidences never cease?