Putting aside personal bias, which is admittedly hard to do, I have come to the conclusion that Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck needs to find his way on to a field for the Miami Dolphins in 2012, and this article will tell you unequivocally why.
This bold statement is based on a few assumptions. The first one is that Luck is as good as advertised and is a quarterback that will succeed in the NFL.
The second assumption is that the team that winds up with the first overall pick in the 2012 draft does not turn around and trade him for a bounty of picks .
Also, the team with the worst record will most likely finish 0-16 or 1-15. That's not an assumption as much as a high probability.
Currently, there are three teams who are winless as we near the midpoint of the season: St. Louis, Indianapolis and Miami. Look me straight in the face and tell me that all of those teams have at least two wins in them the rest of the season.
You would be lying.
Therefore, considering teams that could wind up with the top pick in the NFL draft, you can eliminate any team that already has more than two wins.
So, let's take a look at each team eligible for landing Luck.
The plus side of this would be that Luck remains on the west coast with an ultra-supportive fanbase. Luck to Larry Fitzgerald could be a once-in-a-lifetime connection. On the other hand, Luck's popularity is such that he is a national figure, not a regional one and the Cardinals have never had national appeal, even when they played in Super Bowl XLIII. Yes, I know that, at the time, it was the second-highest watched Super Bowl, but that had little to do with the visibility of the Cardinals and more to do with the temporary underdog story and exciting game.
Then there is the question of what to do with incumbent quarterback Kevin Kolb. The Cardinals paid a huge price for Kolb and they would be lucky to get a fifth round draft pick for him at the moment.
Arizona has a lot of missing components on their team and even adding Luck with a notoriously cheap ownership in place would probably spell three to four years of rebuilding before the low-profile west coast team would be relevant again. Bottom Line: This might be the worst possible landing spot for Luck from the league's point of view.
Minnesota would be adding a top-notch quarterback to a division that has other top-notch quarterbacks already. The NFL would view Aaron Rodgers vs. Andrew Luck as a far more enticing matchup than simply the Packers vs. the Vikings. Minnesota has more national support than Arizona, but it's still not on the par with traditional marquee franchises. Also, there is an issue of a possible relocation of the franchise.
The Vikings have been trying to get a new stadium for ten years and the city just won't accommodate them. Luck being drafted by the Vikings, who then get moved to Los Angeles might seem like a good scenario for the league, but the initial public relations fallout would be tremendous.
You would have Minnesota Vikings' fans feeling extra bitter about losing a franchise and a superstar face of the franchise. You would also have the rest of the league complaining that the NFL overstepped its bounds by steering the Vikings to Los Angeles to take advantage of Luck's popularity and television appeal. There are tons of issues in placing an NFL franchise in L.A. and, while its probably inevitable, I can't help but think it's a very bad idea (more on that in another article).
St. Louis Rams
The positive in Luck coming to St. Louis would be that the Rams proved they were nationally viable in the days of the "Greatest Show on Turf." Unfortunately, Isaac Bruce, Torry Holt, Marshall Faulk and Az-Hakim are long gone.
Also, there is the matter of that Sam Bradford fellow that St. Louis chose with the first overall draft pick in 2010. They also gave him a six-year, $78 million contract with over $50 million in guarantees. Would they take Luck with Bradford in the fold? Debatable at best. If they drafted Luck, how easy would it be to move Bradford and his contract while still getting value in return?
It's almost a catch-22 for the Rams. If Bradford plays well enough the rest of 2011, then you probably forgo drafting Luck and probably won't be in a position to draft him anyway. If Bradford stinks, then his value is negligible given his huge contract.
If by somehow the Rams keep both, the league would be furious as they don't want a potential star riding the pine for long.
Some people see this as the ideal scenario because the Colts could stay relevant in transitioning from Peyton Manning to Luck. I actually think this is the worst scenario along with Arizona.
In the best interests of the NFL, which current winless or one-win team should land Andrew Luck?
First of all, Manning may not be done and, if he isn't, Luck is on the bench because moving Manning is another public relations nightmare and cost prohibitive. If Manning is unable to play again and the Colts somehow finish with the top pick, expect a pretty nasty dispute over the integrity of the Indy organization. The Colts went 10-6 in 2010 while Manning was playing far from his best ball. Do you really believe that the absence of one player, even the great Manning, dictates a nine or ten game swing in the team's record in arguably the weakest division in football?
If you do, I have some ocean front property to sell you for cheap.
More to the point, the Colts don't appear to be just be tanking the season, but firing shells at any fan who believes they have been given a legitimate chance to succeed in the form of Kerry Collins or Curtis Painter.
The Colts have had their run, and the NFL benefited greatly, but Indianapolis is not the kind of market that is key to the NFL's future success. And that brings us to the...
Look, the Dolphins have been below average more often than not in recent memory, yet they still have a remarkably resilient national fan base.
Despite problems in attendance, they haven't had a game blacked out locally in over 100 straight games. That streak might end later this season and figures to definitely end in 2012 if the team can't generate excitement and a better product for 2012. Luck would renew excitement to a fan base that is arguably the most desperate for some.
Locally, the Dolphins dominated the South Florida sports' market for years and would likely give the star-laden Heat competition if Luck was drafted.
The fans embraced Dan Marino like no other athlete in this town, and he didn't even win a Super Bowl. Think about the love that Luck would generate before he even touches the field. Heck, even the possibility of Luck being a Dolphin dominates the South Florida headlines now.
Miami has gone through several below average quarterbacks since Marino, would Luck be the signal caller that ends the "Marino curse?" Could he win a Super Bowl ring, where Marino failed to do so? These are the kinds of questions that would bring the attention that the NFL thrives on.
The list goes on and on as to why Luck is a perfect fit for the league in Miami. The Miami-Fort Lauderdale television market is the nation's 16th largest. While Phoenix (12th), and Minneapolis (15th) are slightly higher on the list, neither can match Miami's national profile or financial impact (purchasing power, etc.).
Add Luck to Miami and you re-energize AFC East rivalries. Right now, the only rivalry that is nationally relevant is New York vs. New England. Imagine the ratings for Luck vs. Tom Brady, the young gun vs. the Hall of Famer, or Rex Ryan's bravado and defense trying to stop Luck.
Put it all together and the best scenario for the NFL is Luck wearing aqua and orange next season.