Indianapolis Colts fans better hope Andrew Luck doesn’t follow the NBA too closely, because if the 22-year-old rookie quarterback has any idea what LeBron James went through during his grueling nine-year journey from prospect to champion that finally ended last month, part of him just has to be secretly dreading the profession he’s chosen right about now.
Luck is the most hyped sports phenom to hit America since James himself, and just like James, Luck will be starting his career this fall with expectations of historic greatness underscoring every move he makes.
The difference? Well besides the fact James had the luxury of knowing he could always just say “screw it” and form a super team with the All-Stars of his choosing one day if things didn’t work out, Luck must also deal with the added pressure of having to follow in the cleat-steps of one of the greatest players in the history of his sport: Peyton Manning.
Luck isn’t just following Manning, however, he’s replacing him. There’s a difference. It’s not like Andrew Luck just happened to be the next guy to play quarterback for the Colts or anything, he was hand-picked to become Manning’s heir. That’s right, Peyton Manning: the Super Bowl champion All-Pro quarterback who can’t stretch his arms in the morning without throwing a touchdown pass.
By drafting Luck at No. 1, wooing the quarterback for as long as they did and releasing Manning after 14 seasons of round-the-clock excellence in order to make room for him, Indy basically just said to this kid, “You’re just as good as Peyton Manning was, right?”
Can Luck pull it off? Of course he can, but only with focus, discipline and a whole lot of, well, luck, and only if he fully understands right now just what he’s up against.
Here’s a subtle reminder in case he forgot: