As the Indianapolis Colts and the Carolina Panthers gear up for Monday night’s matchup, Colts quarterback Andrew Luck has shot down rumors claiming that his decision not to enter the 2011 NFL draft was related Carolina holding the top pick, reports Dan Newton of ESPN.
When asked about the speculations, Luck responded, “Absolutely not. And I hope people don’t think that.” The quarterback added that his choice to stay at Stanford following his redshirt sophomore season rather than join the NFL was about finishing his education, something he needed four years to do.
At the time, Carolina was coming off a poor season with a record of 2–14, and, according to the Associated Press, Carolina scouts had their eye on Luck as the No. 1 pick that year. Rumors suggested Luck chose to continue playing at Stanford to purposefully avoid playing with the Panthers.
Panthers head coach Ron Rivera also rejected the rumor, claiming that Newtown had always been the top choice.
“We were going to pick a quarterback (No. 1),” Rivera said. “The first one I watched with (then-general manager Marty Hurney) was Cam. All I could think to myself was, ‘This was going to be the guy.’”
Luck’s decision allowed Cam Newton to be selected first overall by the Panthers that year. Despite losing 19 of his first 32 games, Newton has become “the guy” for Carolina, immediately becoming the starting quarterback for the franchise and leading his team to back-to-back NFC South division titles.
Newton, 26, has thrown for 15,701 yards and 91 touchdowns over the course of his career with Carolina.
The Panthers finished 2011 with a 6–10 record, while the Colts earned an NFL-worst 2–14 record, giving them the top pick for the following year’s draft. The Colts selected Luck with the No. 1 pick, and the 26-year-old has thrown for 14,355 yards and 97 touchdowns during his time with Indianapolis.
Led by Newton, the Panthers are undefeated this season headed into Monday’s game against the Colts. In contrast, Indianapolis (3–4) has had a rocky start. Luck has missed two games with a shoulder injury and has reportedly been playing with cracked ribs since Week 3.
Luck doesn’t seem to regret his decision to stay in school.
“I felt like I still needed to grow and learn as a football player, and college would give me that opportunity to grown and learn,” he said.
- Xandria James