The Rules of Pacers Digest

Hello everyone,

Whether your are a long standing forum member or whether you have just registered today, it's a good idea to read and review the rules below so that you have a very good idea of what to expect when you come to Pacers Digest.

A quick note to new members: Your posts will not immediately show up when you make them. An administrator has to approve at least your first post before the forum software will later upgrade your account to the status of a fully-registered member. This usually happens within a couple of hours or so after your post(s) is/are approved, so you may need to be a little patient at first.

Why do we do this? So that it's more difficult for spammers (be they human or robot) to post, and so users who are banned cannot immediately re-register and start dousing people with verbal flames.

Below are the rules of Pacers Digest. After you have read them, you will have a very good sense of where we are coming from, what we expect, what we don't want to see, and how we react to things.

Rule #1

Pacers Digest is intended to be a place to discuss basketball without having to deal with the kinds of behaviors or attitudes that distract people from sticking with the discussion of the topics at hand. These unwanted distractions can come in many forms, and admittedly it can sometimes be tricky to pin down each and every kind that can rear its ugly head, but we feel that the following examples and explanations cover at least a good portion of that ground and should at least give people a pretty good idea of the kinds of things we actively discourage:

"Anyone who __________ is a liar / a fool / an idiot / a blind homer / has their head buried in the sand / a blind hater / doesn't know basketball / doesn't watch the games"

"People with intelligence will agree with me when I say that __________"

"Only stupid people think / believe / do ___________"

"I can't wait to hear something from PosterX when he/she sees that **insert a given incident or current event that will have probably upset or disappointed PosterX here**"

"He/she is just delusional"

"This thread is stupid / worthless / embarrassing"

"I'm going to take a moment to point and / laugh at PosterX / GroupOfPeopleY who thought / believed *insert though/belief here*"

"Remember when PosterX said OldCommentY that no longer looks good? "

In general, if a comment goes from purely on topic to something 'ad hominem' (personal jabs, personal shots, attacks, flames, however you want to call it, towards a person, or a group of people, or a given city/state/country of people), those are most likely going to be found intolerable.

We also dissuade passive aggressive behavior. This can be various things, but common examples include statements that are basically meant to imply someone is either stupid or otherwise incapable of holding a rational conversation. This can include (but is not limited to) laughing at someone's conclusions rather than offering an honest rebuttal, asking people what game they were watching, or another common problem is Poster X will say "that player isn't that bad" and then Poster Y will say something akin to "LOL you think that player is good". We're not going to tolerate those kinds of comments out of respect for the community at large and for the sake of trying to just have an honest conversation.

Now, does the above cover absolutely every single kind of distraction that is unwanted? Probably not, but you should by now have a good idea of the general types of things we will be discouraging. The above examples are meant to give you a good feel for / idea of what we're looking for. If something new or different than the above happens to come along and results in the same problem (that being, any other attitude or behavior that ultimately distracts from actually just discussing the topic at hand, or that is otherwise disrespectful to other posters), we can and we will take action to curb this as well, so please don't take this to mean that if you managed to technically avoid saying something exactly like one of the above examples that you are then somehow off the hook.

That all having been said, our goal is to do so in a generally kind and respectful way, and that doesn't mean the moment we see something we don't like that somebody is going to be suspended or banned, either. It just means that at the very least we will probably say something about it, quite possibly snipping out the distracting parts of the post in question while leaving alone the parts that are actually just discussing the topics, and in the event of a repeating or excessive problem, then we will start issuing infractions to try to further discourage further repeat problems, and if it just never seems to improve, then finally suspensions or bans will come into play. We would prefer it never went that far, and most of the time for most of our posters, it won't ever have to.

A slip up every once and a while is pretty normal, but, again, when it becomes repetitive or excessive, something will be done. Something occasional is probably going to be let go (within reason), but when it starts to become habitual or otherwise a pattern, odds are very good that we will step in.

There's always a small minority that like to push people's buttons and/or test their own boundaries with regards to the administrators, and in the case of someone acting like that, please be aware that this is not a court of law, but a private website run by people who are simply trying to do the right thing as they see it. If we feel that you are a special case that needs to be dealt with in an exceptional way because your behavior isn't explicitly mirroring one of our above examples of what we generally discourage, we can and we will take atypical action to prevent this from continuing if you are not cooperative with us.

Also please be aware that you will not be given a pass simply by claiming that you were 'only joking,' because quite honestly, when someone really is just joking, for one thing most people tend to pick up on the joke, including the person or group that is the target of the joke, and for another thing, in the event where an honest joke gets taken seriously and it upsets or angers someone, the person who is truly 'only joking' will quite commonly go out of his / her way to apologize and will try to mend fences. People who are dishonest about their statements being 'jokes' do not do so, and in turn that becomes a clear sign of what is really going on. It's nothing new.

In any case, quite frankly, the overall quality and health of the entire forum's community is more important than any one troublesome user will ever be, regardless of exactly how a problem is exhibiting itself, and if it comes down to us having to make a choice between you versus the greater health and happiness of the entire community, the community of this forum will win every time.

Lastly, there are also some posters, who are generally great contributors and do not otherwise cause any problems, who sometimes feel it's their place to provoke or to otherwise 'mess with' that small minority of people described in the last paragraph, and while we possibly might understand why you might feel you WANT to do something like that, the truth is we can't actually tolerate that kind of behavior from you any more than we can tolerate the behavior from them. So if we feel that you are trying to provoke those other posters into doing or saying something that will get themselves into trouble, then we will start to view you as a problem as well, because of the same reason as before: The overall health of the forum comes first, and trying to stir the pot with someone like that doesn't help, it just makes it worse. Some will simply disagree with this philosophy, but if so, then so be it because ultimately we have to do what we think is best so long as it's up to us.

If you see a problem that we haven't addressed, the best and most appropriate course for a forum member to take here is to look over to the left of the post in question. See underneath that poster's name, avatar, and other info, down where there's a little triangle with an exclamation point (!) in it? Click that. That allows you to report the post to the admins so we can definitely notice it and give it a look to see what we feel we should do about it. Beyond that, obviously it's human nature sometimes to want to speak up to the poster in question who has bothered you, but we would ask that you try to refrain from doing so because quite often what happens is two or more posters all start going back and forth about the original offending post, and suddenly the entire thread is off topic or otherwise derailed. So while the urge to police it yourself is understandable, it's best to just report it to us and let us handle it. Thank you!

All of the above is going to be subject to a case by case basis, but generally and broadly speaking, this should give everyone a pretty good idea of how things will typically / most often be handled.

Rule #2

If the actions of an administrator inspire you to make a comment, criticism, or express a concern about it, there is a wrong place and a couple of right places to do so.

The wrong place is to do so in the original thread in which the administrator took action. For example, if a post gets an infraction, or a post gets deleted, or a comment within a larger post gets clipped out, in a thread discussing Paul George, the wrong thing to do is to distract from the discussion of Paul George by adding your off topic thoughts on what the administrator did.

The right places to do so are:

A) Start a thread about the specific incident you want to talk about on the Feedback board. This way you are able to express yourself in an area that doesn't throw another thread off topic, and this way others can add their two cents as well if they wish, and additionally if there's something that needs to be said by the administrators, that is where they will respond to it.

B) Send a private message to the administrators, and they can respond to you that way.

If this is done the wrong way, those comments will be deleted, and if it's a repeating problem then it may also receive an infraction as well.

Rule #3

If a poster is bothering you, and an administrator has not or will not deal with that poster to the extent that you would prefer, you have a powerful tool at your disposal, one that has recently been upgraded and is now better than ever: The ability to ignore a user.

When you ignore a user, you will unfortunately still see some hints of their existence (nothing we can do about that), however, it does the following key things:

A) Any post they make will be completely invisible as you scroll through a thread.

B) The new addition to this feature: If someone QUOTES a user you are ignoring, you do not have to read who it was, or what that poster said, unless you go out of your way to click on a link to find out who it is and what they said.

To utilize this feature, from any page on Pacers Digest, scroll to the top of the page, look to the top right where it says 'Settings' and click that. From the settings page, look to the left side of the page where it says 'My Settings', and look down from there until you see 'Edit Ignore List' and click that. From here, it will say 'Add a Member to Your List...' Beneath that, click in the text box to the right of 'User Name', type in or copy & paste the username of the poster you are ignoring, and once their name is in the box, look over to the far right and click the 'Okay' button. All done!

Rule #4

Regarding infractions, currently they carry a value of one point each, and that point will expire in 31 days. If at any point a poster is carrying three points at the same time, that poster will be suspended until the oldest of the three points expires.

Rule #5

When you share or paste content or articles from another website, you must include the URL/link back to where you found it, who wrote it, and what website it's from. Said content will be removed if this doesn't happen.

An example:

If I copy and paste an article from the Indianapolis Star website, I would post something like this:
Title of the Article
Author's Name
Indianapolis Star

Rule #6

We cannot tolerate illegal videos on Pacers Digest. This means do not share any links to them, do not mention any websites that host them or link to them, do not describe how to find them in any way, and do not ask about them. Posts doing anything of the sort will be removed, the offenders will be contacted privately, and if the problem becomes habitual, you will be suspended, and if it still persists, you will probably be banned.

The legal means of watching or listening to NBA games are NBA League Pass Broadband (for US, or for International; both cost money) and NBA Audio League Pass (which is free). Look for them on

Rule #7

Provocative statements in a signature, or as an avatar, or as the 'tagline' beneath a poster's username (where it says 'Member' or 'Administrator' by default, if it is not altered) are an unwanted distraction that will more than likely be removed on sight. There can be shades of gray to this, but in general this could be something political or religious that is likely going to provoke or upset people, or otherwise something that is mean-spirited at the expense of a poster, a group of people, or a population.

It may or may not go without saying, but this goes for threads and posts as well, particularly when it's not made on the off-topic board (Market Square).

We do make exceptions if we feel the content is both innocuous and unlikely to cause social problems on the forum (such as wishing someone a Merry Christmas or a Happy Easter), and we also also make exceptions if such topics come up with regards to a sports figure (such as the Lance Stephenson situation bringing up discussions of domestic abuse and the law, or when Jason Collins came out as gay and how that lead to some discussion about gay rights).

However, once the discussion seems to be more/mostly about the political issues instead of the sports figure or his specific situation, the thread is usually closed.

Rule #8

We prefer self-restraint and/or modesty when making jokes or off topic comments in a sports discussion thread. They can be fun, but sometimes they derail or distract from a topic, and we don't want to see that happen. If we feel it is a problem, we will either delete or move those posts from the thread.

Rule #9

Generally speaking, we try to be a "PG-13" rated board, and we don't want to see sexual content or similarly suggestive content. Vulgarity is a more muddled issue, though again we prefer things to lean more towards "PG-13" than "R". If we feel things have gone too far, we will step in.

Rule #10

We like small signatures, not big signatures. The bigger the signature, the more likely it is an annoying or distracting signature.

Rule #11

Do not advertise anything without talking about it with the administrators first. This includes advertising with your signature, with your avatar, through private messaging, and/or by making a thread or post.
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2022 Colts Thread

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  • Slick Pinkham
    don't tell the powers that be.

    the whole thing

    THE DAY AFTER he retired, Andrew Luck reached into the shower in the bedroom at his Indianapolis condo and turned the knob. He stepped back and waited for the water to get hot. It was the afternoon of Aug. 25, 2019, and he was in a fog over what he had done. When Luck had told Indianapolis Colts executives that he was going to walk away from football, they didn't believe him. Couldn't fathom it. "When you going to turn it on?" they asked two weeks before the season began. "I'm not," Luck said. When he had told his teammates he hadn't been able to live the life he wanted to live, they said they understood. Didn't argue. They said they'd seen his pain and now sensed his relief. But his eyes dampened and his face reddened when he told them. He knew they wanted him for a shot at a Super Bowl, and he knew he wasn't going to deliver. He also knew, no matter how guilty he felt, that he wasn't going to change his mind.

    When it came time to tell the rest of the world, Luck wrote it down. He sat at the counter in his kitchen and composed a retirement speech. He wrote longhand on a notepad and then typed parts and pieces into his laptop, polishing and rearranging as he went, titling it: ALUCK - FIRST DRAFT. It was strange to write. Usually, retirements are celebratory events at the end of storied careers. Nobody, not even Luck, would be celebrating this one. He used phrases like "I have a lot of clarity in this" and "it is the right decision for me." The cycle of getting hurt, rehabbing, getting hurt again, had brought him to this place, he said. A place where it was time to "remove himself from football."

    The sports world was stunned. This was a generational quarterback. A quarterback on track for the Hall of Fame. A quarterback who'd just won the Associated Press NFL Comeback Player of the Year Award. A rare quarterback who seemed born to do what he was doing. This was Andrew Luck.

    How could he walk away?

    He delivered his speech, with trembling conviction. And the next day, at home, he couldn't pick an emotion. They were all tangled together, relief mixed with mourning, guilt mixed with a profound unburdening, a dozen thoughts and feelings that he couldn't name or even really describe. He had no idea what came next, or how hard it would be to find out. All he knew was that he didn't have to pretend anymore. He stepped into the shower and stood under the water, and with the steam rising started to cry.

    ALMOST THREE YEARS later, on a May morning in Indianapolis, Andrew Luck is holding a fishing rod and sliding into waders in a dirt parking lot a few miles from his house. He's 33 now. He just said goodbye to his wife, Nicole Pechanec, and dropped off their 3-year-old daughter, Lucy, at preschool. Another daughter, Penelope, is due in two months. After Luck retired from the Colts, he tried to find new outlets for his obsessions. He makes a perfect cappuccino, the whole beans purchased from a local shop where he always tips generously. Skiing fills his need for an outdoor physical act that requires total concentration, with speed and danger. Cycling provides the rush of skiing but in warm weather, and is easier on the joints. Rowing is something Nicole encouraged. And he loves fishing for all the usual reasons: the quiet and detachment, the hope and adrenaline, the fact that he can go alone or with friends.

    He stands outside his black Audi sedan, fiddling with gear, and threads his line. A group of kids watches him from a distance. Luck is slimmer and more defined than he was in his playing days. His eyes are under a heavy brow, conveying little and absorbing everything. He is still famous around town, for the hope he once provided and the fading hope that he could still one day provide it again. He snakes through woods, down to a quiet river. There are some small rocks set up on a bank, where Lucy arranged them a few days ago when she came here with her daddy. That makes him smile. He steps into the water, cold and clear and perfect for trout, and lets out line in quick movements.

    Time stretches out in front of him as it has stretched out in front of him since he threw a football better than almost anyone on the planet; strange and confusing, liberating and exhilarating, as he tries to understand how a game turned into an obligation and into a corruptive force.

    "How do you fall out of love with something you loved?" he says.

    He reels in his line and casts again and stares at the shimmering surface of the water.

    "Elements of decisions of why I did it that I'm still processing," he says.

    "I think ..."

    He feels a tug.

    "F--- yeah, dude!"

    His line tightens.


    He sets the hook.

    "Dude! Hahaha. Dude, it's such a good feeling. Yes! Oh, it's such a good feeling."

    The struggle lasts seconds before Luck pulls the trout from the water. He cradles it in his hands, which are gangly and huge, big enough to swallow laces or a fish. "Hey, buddy," he says, as he gently pries the hook from the fish's mouth and lets it loose. A silver flash disappears beneath the surface. He casts again, waiting for another tug on the line, over and over again, cast after cast, fish after fish, his best morning ever at this hole, until Lucy is due to be back from school, and it's time to go home.

    "YOU KNOW WHY you're here, right?" Luck asks me in the kitchen of his house just north of Indianapolis on a quiet morning this past spring. It's the first in a series of days we'd spend together over five months this year, the first time he has spoken at length publicly since he retired.

    "No," I say.

    "Because you ski."

    He's only half-joking. I had written him a letter in October 2019, months after he walked away. He replied that he wanted to talk to me, but only when he was ready. Might be two months or two years, he said. He researched me and learned that I extreme ski. So does he. He has maps of resorts framed around his house and says there are days when he actually has considered going to work on the ski patrol.

    He pulls out a dozen eggs and some bacon while talking on the phone. It's amusing to watch him cook for Lucy, measured against what he could be doing today. If he had wanted to, Luck would be entering his 11th NFL season, probably with a contract worth double the $139 million deal he signed in 2016. Who knows, he might have a Super Bowl ring or two. He also might be single and angry, leaving himself to wonder if it was worth it.

    This is his routine on most days, while Nicole works as a television producer. He holds a tiny cast-iron skillet, focusing on the egg he cracks. He watches it sizzle, the only noise in the room.

    "Perfect size," he says.

    His house is bright and spacious, nestled on a lake just north of Indianapolis. He designed it before he retired, deploying his Stanford architecture degree to create a place "built for a quarterback," he says. Its physical therapy room is now a guest room. A film room is now an office. The house is five minutes from the Colts facility. He drives past it almost daily. Only recently has he decorated the house with football stuff, and most of it from Stanford. There is only one item from his pro football days on display: a framed painting that he received for winning Comeback Player of the Year in 2018. In it, he is in full uniform, standing on a boat in a calm sea, no expression on his face, with a life preserver floating alongside him if he wants to jump.

    MOST DAYS AT sunrise, with life still and coffee hot, Luck sits at one of the two desks in his study and writes down his thoughts, always in longhand on yellow legal pads. He read a self-help book that advocated journaling before the day begins in earnest, stream of consciousness stuff, and he says "it feels good to do something for yourself." Sometimes he journals about his daily tasks, sometimes it's deeper. The subtext is often football, and how a scripted life didn't fulfill the script. He rarely goes back and rereads them. He says he doesn't consider himself a strong writer. He journals to journal, not only helping him sort out his thoughts and clear his mind, but to feel closer to clarity.


    Sources: Jones, Kraft exchange words at meeting
    49dSeth Wickersham and Don Van Natta Jr.

    Welcome to the Sean McVay Moment
    120dSeth Wickersham

    Colts fire coach Reich, name Saturday interim
    29dStephen Holder
    "What story am I telling myself?" he says.

    On a spring morning, as we sit near a garden and sip cappuccinos, he wants to arrive at a story he can live out. Conversations about his future usually turn into reexaminations of his past, of why he was initially drawn to a game that nearly ruined him.

    "Well, shoot. I don't think I had a choice. Haha," he says.

    He's not referring to his family somehow steering him into football, although his dad, Oliver, was an NFL quarterback for five years and was Andrew's hero. When you're expected to be not only a great quarterback but a transcendent one, when you come to love the addictive nirvana of fitting the ball into narrowing windows and also providing something to friends, helping their lives, when you are the consensus first overall draft pick two years running, and when you have leverage in every room you enter, he felt he had an obligation to see where it took him. Life moved at warp speed, from Stratford High School in Houston to Stanford and then the draft, with no time to consider or process.

    "What I didn't allow myself to explore enough was how much I loved football," he says.

    Did he love football? He says he did. But all of the attention made him squirm, made him want to break out of a "story that felt written," he says. There was a media narrative that he led a limitless life -- that he could have been an architect, or engineer, or scientist, if he wanted -- when his life was actually fiercely limited.

    How much of your self-identity was tied to being a quarterback? I ask.

    "A lot. A lot. A LOT. And I didn't realize that until after the fact," he says.

    Luck entered the NFL with enormous expectations, as the No. 1 pick of the 2012 draft and the successor to Peyton Manning. Though he found success, the burden was significant. Rafa Alvarez
    Luck has told himself a lot of stories over the years, trying to measure -- or discover -- the distance between his own narrative and his reality. He arrived in the NFL in 2012, with little idea that the greatest quarterbacks are often selfish and fragile, controlling and pouty, both the only adult in the room and a grown child. Peyton Manning had run the Colts building for 14 years, expanding the influence and impact of one player, and there was an expectation for Luck to do the same. He was 22. He had no idea how to run a professional football team. Early in his career, Luck chatted with left tackle Anthony Castanzo about the requirements of great quarterbacks. "You have to believe that you are God's gift to the world, or else doubt will start to come in," Castanzo said.

    Luck's most natural version of himself was to be one of the guys, he says. But what worked at Stanford didn't work in the NFL. He felt too much pressure, and had to convince himself that he had "some level of control over the outcome" of a random game. So he became someone he didn't want to be -- or, specifically, he tapped into a part of his personality he didn't always relish. He ran offensive meetings. He was so involved in blocking and route-running techniques that players nicknamed him the assistant tight ends coach. When people visited his downtown condo and it was getting close to his 9:52 p.m. bedtime during the season, Luck would disappear to the bathroom, brush his teeth, strip to his boxers, tell the group good night -- and kill the lights. He simplified his life to extremes, using a flip phone. He and his agent and uncle, Will Wilson, turned down most endorsements until he felt that he had accomplished something in the league. Trying to control every variable extended to dinners out with teammates, where he'd order for everyone without being asked. "To play quarterback, you're not allowed to worry about anything except the task at hand," Luck says. "And that seeps into other areas of life. It's not the healthiest way to live."

    Nicole witnessed it all, his longtime girlfriend who sometimes felt reduced to a silo in a siloed life. They had met at Stanford, after Luck got her number by pretending to have lost his cell phone and asking her to call it. She was independent and focused on her own aspirations, first earning her MBA at Indiana University and later working as a television producer. But Andrew simply decided her role and decided that she needed to be out of the spotlight. "I had no place," she says. Nicole got used to people acknowledging her only to ask for a photo of her boyfriend. "I didn't want to be a public figure, but that was part of the job," Luck says. "So why would I subject her to it? But we never had that conversation. I made the decision for her."

    Those decisions, his survival mechanisms, his "design," as he calls it, worked, both professionally and culturally. He became one of the best quarterbacks in football. He delivered in critical moments, helping to rally the Colts from a 38-10 third-quarter deficit to beat the Kansas City Chiefs in the playoffs in his second year. In his third season, the Colts reached the AFC Championship Game. A Super Bowl seemed inevitable. "We were progressing," he says.

    Then, on a third down in the second quarter of the third game of the 2015 season, Tennessee Titans defensive end Brian Orakpo hit Luck from behind, driving him into the ground. Luck hopped up, but he winced. Something was wrong.

    "It hurts," Luck told his uncle that night. "But I think it'll be all right."

    LUCK HAD NO practical choice but to be all right. He had torn his right labrum, but he had what he calls a "deep, deep, deep, deep, DEEP" code within himself to never cede to pain, and especially to not discuss it. "If you're playing scared in any way, shape or form, it does not work," he says.

    Luck took that ethos to an extreme. During the 2016 offseason, after he missed nine games in 2015, with his labrum injury, a partial abdominal tear and a lacerated kidney from another hit, his shoulder simply wasn't working. He refused to level with anyone, leaving the team to believe that he was fully recovered. He had separated his AC (acromioclavicular) joint snowboarding in Colorado, flying back to Indianapolis that night for tests with the team. It didn't end up affecting the labrum but did further destabilize that entire region of his body. His new $139 million contract, making him the league's highest-paid player, provided security and increased pressure.

    Luck (here with tight end Jack Doyle, center, and long-snapper Matt Overton) missed nine games in 2015 with various injuries, which only hardened his resolve to play through pain: "If you're playing scared in any way, shape or form, it does not work." AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack
    When training camp began, Luck's shoulder was a "subtle" rather than "obvious" injury, Wilson says. Muscles and joints that once worked smoothly now didn't. Luck's mind started to anticipate torment as he threw, and he wondered if it was his brain preemptively shutting down his body in those split seconds between spotting an open receiver and delivering the ball. Watching other quarterbacks throw sometimes made Luck cringe. The Colts' preseason opener that August against the Packers was cancelled due to poor field conditions, and Luck was secretly relieved to not have to throw in warmups. When the regular season arrived, he was on a pitch count during the week, practicing every other day, embarrassing him so much that he'd tell teammates, "I'm not throwing it as hard today."

    A trainer named Willem Kramer started to visit Luck. They had met years earlier. Kramer's wife, Jill, had been the volleyball coach at West Virginia when Oliver Luck was the athletic director. Kramer viewed both his practice and the human body holistically, and he had operated a rehab center in his native the Netherlands called Veel Beter, where soccer players would heal and return to the pitch only when ready. He would massage Luck's shoulder, trying to get him to game day. It worked, barely. Passes that Luck was accustomed to making now fluttered, accompanied by a stabbing sensation in his shoulder.

    He retreated even more inward. After the season ended, in January of 2017, Luck had labrum surgery at Stanford, by Dr. Marc Safran. The surgery was successful, but his shoulder was still weak -- and still causing him pain, leaving Luck to wonder if he had overdone it in rehab. Colts owner Jim Irsay told reporters in August that Luck's "progression could not be better," but when the season started, he still couldn't go. "His muscles weren't firing," Kramer says.

    Luck blamed himself, feeling like a "failure for the first time in my life." Every daily act, from his posture as he sat, to how long he stood, became measured in terms of whether it helped or hurt his shoulder. "The relationship between pain and rational thought got all crossed," Luck says. All of the neuroses and habits that had helped him to become a great quarterback, or that he believed helped, conspired against him. "He couldn't shut it off," says Jack Doyle, a former Colts tight end and one of his best friends.

    Midway through the 2017 season, Luck, Colts general manager Chris Ballard and team doctors went on a secret tour of a handful of surgeons. At one point, Luck threw gentle passes on the top floor of a parking garage, his shoulder flaring up and doctors and trainers trying to pinpoint what was wrong. All told him something different, and all wanted to cut into him. But Luck also visited Safran, who told him that what the shoulder needed most was what he wanted to hear least: time. Luck hadn't taken a snap all season. He had no idea what to do, scared when many teammates assumed he was in total control. "He was Andrew Luck," Doyle says. "He had it all figured out. He was the man. That's all anyone ever told him, and that's what he believed."

    Luck asked Kramer to start visiting Indianapolis again for rehab. This time, though, Kramer said, "I'm not doing that. It's a waste of your time and a waste of my time."

    That surprised Luck; he didn't hear no often. Kramer told him that he was under too much pressure in Indianapolis, and that he needed a new environment. "Just you, Nicole, and your shoulder."

    He wanted him to go to Veel Beter. Or, specifically, he wanted Luck to want to go to Veel Beter, so that Luck felt agency over his own decisions, something he strangely felt bereft of, despite his stature both in the culture and within the Colts building. It was an odd feeling, not always logical, but so many choices in his life felt like false ones, obligations more than actual decisions, his life as a quarterback owned by so many entities, from the team to the city. "He just had a really hard time saying what he felt, what he wanted," Kramer says.

    Kramer made clear to Luck that they would go to the Netherlands with one goal. It wasn't for Luck to throw again. It was for him to have a chance of a pain-free, functional shoulder -- for "an aspiration of a foundation," Luck says. He had to convince the team of his plans. Team doctors were polite but suspicious of Kramer, tolerating him only out of respect for the franchise quarterback. Irsay decided to loan Luck his plane to fly to Amsterdam. Luck arrived at the gym the next day, Nov. 2, at 8 a.m., with no idea what to expect.

    THE FIRST DRILL was called Snow Angels. On his back, Luck had to lift 2.5-pound dumbbells an inch above the ground and motion his arms above his head. Luck tried -- and could do it with only his left arm. Luck glared at Kramer, so angry and dispirited that he couldn't process.

    "I can't do this," Luck said later that day.

    "You can," Kramer said.

    "It is too tough."

    "It's supposed to be tough. Was it painful?"


    That's progress, Kramer said.

    That night, Nicole asked Luck how he felt, that day and overall.

    "I don't know," he said.

    But Luck knew. He was in a silent hell, scared and panicking. And Nicole was losing patience, tired of years of Andrew putting emotional guardrails around her. "I didn't have a place to contribute because Andrew wouldn't communicate," she says. Nicole felt uniquely equipped to help. She had been a gymnast in her native Czech Republic, and her childhood was spent in various training facilities across America, sometimes for years. She became so prolific at Stanford that she invented her own move on the uneven bars, called the Pechancova. And before she was 21 years old, she had broken a shin, an ankle, her back, and torn up her knee, forcing her to consider life beyond gymnastics.

    "I've been injured my whole life," she told him.

    At first, Luck wasn't in the mood to hear it. He couldn't hear it. He wasn't sleeping well, he was in pain, he was fighting with Nicole, the team was halfway across the globe without him, and if he stopped to examine his life, the entire world he had constructed might start to unravel, perhaps revealing it to be fatally flawed all along. "I understood myself best as a quarterback," Luck says. "I felt no understanding of other parts of myself at all."

    As injuries began to mount, the emotional and physical toll on Luck started to become unbearable. Rafa Alvarez
    Nicole was prepared to leave him if nothing changed. Then one night, he broke. He cried, he cursed, he vented, he confessed, and most of all, he leveled with Nicole in a way she thought he was incapable of. "There were some things that when I looked in the mirror, I did not like about myself," he says. "I was self-absorbed, withdrawn, in pain, and feeling pressure."

    After about a few weeks in Holland, Luck started to see a professional therapist. And Kramer started to serve not only as a trainer but as a couple's counselor of sorts, trying to teach Andrew and Nicole about communication and identity, both as individuals and as a unit. One day, Kramer asked Luck, "Aren't you more than a quarterback?"

    "Huh?" Luck said.

    "I mean, that's fine -- I guess. What you do on the field is amazing. But aren't you more than that?"

    Luck thought so, but maybe not. It took weeks, but Luck was at the early stages of trying to shed his former self -- his quarterback self -- in favor of a person he didn't know yet. One night in the Netherlands before he returned to America, Luck took a few people out for pizza. He started to order for the table. "You're getting the Margherita" he told Kramer.

    "No," Kramer said.

    "You're getting it," Luck said.

    "No, I'm not," Kramer said. "Why would you order for people?"

    Everyone laughed, but Luck got the point.

    LUCK NOW REFERS to those six weeks simply as "Holland," an experience as much as a place, a transformation so profound that, looking back, might have marked the beginning of the end of his NFL career. He returned to the Colts facility in late 2017 with a promise to himself that he would put his body and mind and wife-to-be first. But at the time, Luck also had a goal of returning to play. When he entered the Colts building, familiar urges started to kick in. The team and the press wanted to know his time frame for throwing. Luck told them that he would throw when he was ready. But Ballard says that Luck "cared so much about others, and not letting the team down" that he was in a dull panic.

    "I need to throw," Luck told Kramer.

    "If you're not ready, you're not ready."

    "I need to throw."


    "I need to."

    "You matter," Kramer said. "And when you can't throw, you still matter."

    LATER THAT SPRING, on April 18, Luck was in New York City, working out at a basketball court, holding a little red ball. He still hadn't thrown anything since the previous fall. Tom House, the renowned throwing specialist who had worked with Tom Brady and Drew Brees, had been brought in by Will Wilson to help Luck rebuild his fundamentals. House saw a young man in "survival mode." House has a Ph.D. in sports psychology, and the first task for clients of his company, first called 3DQB and now Mustard, is to fill out a survey to assess their physical and mental state. Before House's first meeting with Luck, the quarterback had completed only the physical portion. When House arrived at Andrew's Palo Alto home for their initial meeting, Nicole told him that Luck was in the bathroom finishing the psychological survey, unsure of how to answer, even unsure if he knew himself well enough to answer.

    Over the next few months, House came to view Luck as the smartest athlete he'd ever worked with -- but felt that Luck had an emotional block. "All I had to do was fiddle with Andrew's mechanics," House says. "And then try to figure out what was going on mentally and emotionally." Luck was tough to penetrate, despite progress with Kramer and his therapist. If Luck didn't like one of House's drills, he wouldn't tell him. Something about it made him skittish. Luck would tell Kramer to tell House. Luck started retooling his mechanics slowly, not throwing anything. Luck would hold a 1-ounce hand towel and go through the throwing motion in front of a mirror, the towel flapping against his forearm.

    After months, Kramer and House finally allowed Luck to throw something. In New York, Luck stood five yards away from a target on a wall. He set his feet, bouncing lightly, and raised the little red ball to his chest. Kramer stood back, recording it on his phone. Luck's arm slowly whipped back, then whipped forward. For the first time since 2015, Luck didn't wince.

    "Oh my god," he said.

    NEARLY FIVE MONTHS later in the 2018 season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals, Frank Reich called a play for Luck to throw a short pass. It was Reich's first game as the Colts' head coach, and he thought he had hit "the coaching lottery" with Luck. But the first time they met, Luck gave Reich glimpses of the worry and grief and despair from the previous few years. Reich had spent 14 seasons in the NFL, mostly as a backup quarterback to superstars, and knew that Luck needed a best friend more than a new playbook. "It was natural for me to fall into that role as the guy who's always been the backup quarterback who was there to support the franchise guy," Reich says.

    Against the Bengals, Luck ignored the short pass and decided to throw long to tight end Eric Ebron down the right sideline. Reich was nervous as he watched; Luck had been on a pitch count throughout training camp. In the stands, Nicole felt time slow as the ball rose and fell in a trajectory once routine and now uncertain. But it dropped into Ebron's arms for Luck's first touchdown pass since 2016, and after the game, Reich awarded Luck a game ball, to a standing ovation.

    The Colts went 10-6 in 2018, winning a playoff game. Andrew and Nicole smiled at each other outside the locker room after a playoff exit against the Chiefs, relieved that he had accomplished his goal: He had returned to football, with a pain-free shoulder, had played at a high level and had felt strong. For the season, Luck threw 42 touchdown passes in the regular season and playoffs combined -- all while his left foot and ankle were bothering him, which began midway through the season. A few weeks after the playoff loss, at the Pro Bowl, Luck strained his ankle. Looking back, Luck wishes he had told the team, "I gave it all I had this year, but this is no more for me."

    Instead, he told everyone that he'd be all right.

    Luck's loss to Kansas City in the AFC Divisional Playoffs in January 2019 would prove to be his final official game -- although no one knew it at the time. David Eulitt/Getty Images
    IT STARTED ALL over again: the anger, the feigned stoicism, the moodiness, the empty responses to Nicole, the confusion as doctors were unable to explain what was wrong, despite three MRIs. As the 2019 season neared, Luck was again away from the team, off in the training room. "All the scars from the past showed up," Ballard says. Luck felt himself drifting back not only to the "hamster wheel" of rehab, but to all of his worse impulses. He was a "spoiled child," Kramer says, sulking and scared, not only because of chronic pain but because of how he acted in chronic pain, a resentment less toward his body for failing to hold up and more toward himself. It wasn't just a matter of getting his foot to cooperate; it was that he knew what he was headed for if it did.

    "It felt soooo familiar," Luck says.

    Something had to give. One day during training camp, Luck confessed to his teammate Castanzo that he was once again asking himself: "Who am I?" This time, Luck's answers were different. He was not just a quarterback. In the offseason he and Nicole had married, and she was pregnant with Lucy. He had responsibilities and promises beyond himself and the Colts. He was coming close to saying out loud what he had disclosed only to Nicole and a few others: that he wasn't sure he wanted to do this anymore. Not could. Wanted. He had proved that he could play at a high level. He had received plenty of praise and criticism, enough to know that neither of those things matters. "It was admirable that he was able to see the bigger picture," Castanzo says. "For him to continue on in his life as a quarterback, he would have essentially expected it to be Andrew's World, and every relationship in his life would cater to Andrew's World, which is not the person he wanted to be."

    One day during camp Luck called Nicole, who was on the road with a camera crew.

    "I think I'm going to retire," he said.

    OK, this is real now, Nicole thought. But she couldn't talk. "We are on air! Got to go!"

    Nicole was willing to cater to Andrew, to do whatever it took for him to realize his goals as a quarterback. But he was done. Luck told his family and close friends. Wilson advised him to sleep on it. When they spoke two days later, Luck was resolute. Ballard tried to appeal to Luck's competitive fire, but it was gone. Reich implored him to not rush a big decision, but Luck didn't think it had been rushed. When Wilson met with Ballard to finalize the paperwork, both men cried. Luck savored his final days in pro football. He played catch with Doyle on the field before his next-to-last preseason game, putting his arm around him as they entered the tunnel. That weekend, Luck threw a birthday party for Nicole at a downtown Indianapolis restaurant called Bluebeard. He got chatty and told almost everyone in attendance, hoping they could keep a secret for a few days.

    A week later on Saturday night in a preseason game against the Chicago Bears at Lucas Oil Stadium, Luck was on the sideline in street clothes. The secret plan was to announce his retirement the next afternoon. In the fourth quarter, Luck felt the mood in the building shift. The crowd was still lingering. There was a strange fervor. Cameras had turned toward him. Colts media relations executive Matt Conti came over holding his phone, with word that ESPN's Adam Schefter had broken the news.

    "Well, it's out," Luck told Doyle and Castanzo.

    Some of the crowd booed Luck -- in the only city where he'd acclimated as a professional, where he'd lived downtown and had a view of Monument Circle, where he was part of the people, where he had started a book club to improve literacy, where he played trivia on Wednesdays and ate at restaurants trendy and obscure. As Luck approached the tunnel, the crush got louder and more personal. In the locker room players were staring at texts with stunning news about a man feet away. Luck explained himself, fighting back tears. Conti was in a nearby room, trying to get Luck a copy of his speech, hoping that a printer that never seemed to work would come through. It did. He walked Luck to the podium with the papers.

    Glad I didn't leave it until the morning, Luck thought.

    After announcing his retirement in August 2019, Luck turned his attention to preparing to become a father for the first time -- and to shedding his football identity. AP Photo/Michael Conroy
    NEWS OF LUCK'S retirement rocked the football world and beyond. But inside his condo, it was eerie and quiet. He seemed lighter, free of angst -- and fidgety. He decided to start building Lucy's crib. He scurried around opening drawers, looking for a screwdriver, until he finally asked Nicole where she kept it. He later powered up his flip phone for the first time that day. Hundreds of texts lit it up. He wanted to reply to each one, but he could see only a few at a time on the tiny, outdated screen. So he wrote down each number. Some numbers, he knew. Others, he needed help. Replying to texts took months, as he traveled to Europe, as he learned to surf, as he grew his hair long and switched to a keto diet and started to be recognized as "the un-quarterback," he says, until he finally broke down and bought an iPhone.

    He became a father when Lucy was born in November at Peyton Manning Children's Hospital. He tried to avoid watching football during the 2019 season, but he would send Colts players texts before and after games -- sometimes during them. The season ended, and a few months later, the world was at a standstill from a deadly virus. Andrew and Nicole and Lucy were holed up in a guest space above their garage while the construction on the house was in its final stages, with nowhere to go.

    "The floodgates opened," Nicole says.

    They'd talk in the kitchen, or on walks, or on the patio. Luck would ask hyper-philosophical questions and pose theories, picking words that cut to his core and essence. Quarterback was one. Why had he become a quarterback, and why had he been so drawn to its freedoms and constraints, and why did he derive so much of his self-worth from it, from providing to the guys, from being available to the team? Availability was another one, because the available guys are the ones he wanted to play with and he considered himself to be one but maybe wasn't, and so why -- why was it such a source of pride, and was it because he simply wasn't tough enough? Toughness. What did it mean to be tough? Was his retirement exemplar of a lack of toughness, or was it actually courage few could imagine?

    Lots of words led to few conclusions. One day, as Luck was processing out loud again, Nicole thought about how much easier it was to handle a newborn.

    "Andrew," she said. "How can someone talk about themselves so much?"

    They both laughed.

    LUCK HAD STARTED to tell himself a series of stories. Of being a quarterback. Of being a husband and father. Of the injury cycle providing the gift of awareness. Of having made a decision. He told himself stories of a former football player whose story made sense -- "Grieving what you know best," he says -- often until those stories made sense. But none of them netted out in resolution or assurance that he hoped would erase this feeling he lived with and had no choice but to try to talk out, this "insane conflict" of giving his life to becoming one of the best in the world at his craft and wondering what's left when it's over. Therapy helped Luck to arrive at the "clarity that I don't need more clarity," he says, language that felt both sufficient and inadequate because it failed to yield what he most wanted to know: Which choices are the right ones? And are they right forever? And if they fade, or if their edges recede, like an iceberg, were they wrong even if they still feel right? "I doubt I will ever find the answers," he says. "All of them. Or any answers."

    One day, while walking with Lucy in their neighborhood, Luck saw kids playing football. They knew who he was, and he knew that they knew. They asked him to throw. Luck threw a tiny ball to tiny targets. It rushed back to him, the motions and rhythms, but most of all, the purity of providing, of making people's day, just by delivering something into their hands. "I always had fun throwing," he says. And so he threw to those kids until it started raining, and Lucy was getting soaked, and it was time to go home.

    Two years into retirement, Luck was happy to be a stay-at-home dad. But he also wanted a career, something to fill football's void, to define himself as something other than the quarterback who walked away. He considered going back to school, or buying a stake in an MLS team, or starting a venture capital firm in the Bay Area, or joining the ski patrol. He could be choosy, with financial blessings beyond belief that he didn't take for granted. But he also knew that whatever he did, it had to mean something. Once you're a quarterback, America never sees you as anything else, almost like a president. Luck spent the winter of 2021 in Summit County, Colorado, where his family had a house. He skied Breckenridge almost daily, chatting up strangers on the chair lift, anonymous behind a helmet and goggles. Luck met some ski patrollers, one of whom was also an assistant football coach at Summit High School and asked if he would want to talk to the players sometime.

    Sure, Luck said. In late August, he showed up.

    THE SMELL HIT him first. Of the locker room, sweat and old metal. Of pads and jerseys, plastic and foam and grass-stained mesh. Awful but familiar, triggering memories of how impressionable he had been as a teenager. He threw to receivers, firing his first pass into the dirt. He spoke to the team for five or so minutes, then asked for questions.

    "What's your biggest regret from your NFL career?" a kid asked.

    Luck cursed in his mind, having hoped for a softball. "Good question!" he said, and he decided to tell a group of kids what he had never said publicly:

    "I regret the timing of when I retired."

    He felt he had let people down, for which he had to learn how to forgive himself. What mattered to him most about football, what he wanted the kids to learn, was the "uber accountability." He knew that his own ideas of accountability and of football were more complicated than the romantic version that he had shared. And yet on the drive home that afternoon, Luck couldn't stop smiling at the thought of those romantic notions. Of sitting in meetings and geeking out for 45 minutes on one play. Of tough moments, when he was hurting or reckless with the ball. Of dumb stuff, like being whacked by pool noodles in practice to reduce fumbles. In the fall of 2021, he watched football more often, and sometimes called David Shaw, Stanford's coach at the time, to discuss pass protections. He said he understood what football "did give me. What it demanded. What it took in a sense. What I allowed it to take."

    On a Saturday morning in Indianapolis last autumn, he was at Lucy's soccer practice on fields next to the Colts facility. Over a blue fence, the Colts were holding a walk-through. Luck could hear and see glimpses of his old job, and what hit him felt truer than some of the stories he'd tell himself, and didn't feel like a story at all. He was still a quarterback. "I don't think that will ever go away," he says.

    He wanted back in the game. This time, to coach.

    As Luck ponders his post-NFL career, his options are plentiful. Rafa Alvarez
    Luck worried and deliberated, reevaluated and reconsidered, wondering if this was what he wanted, if it could make him feel as alive as playing once did, or if it was merely what sounded best. He wanted a graduate degree if he were to coach and maybe teach high school history, and the idea of grad school felt like a big deal. It was a declaration of a career. It would be Andrew Luck's first big public step since retirement, bringing attention he had worked hard to avoid.

    By last December, Luck had decided that if he were to go back to school, it had to be in the fall of 2022. Nicole was pregnant with Penelope. Stanford's first day was a few months after she would be born, giving them a little bit of breathing room between her arrival and class. Luck decided to apply. It was different from 2008. He was Andrew Luck, Cardinal legend, one of the inductees into the College Football Hall of Fame class of 2022, but this time nobody was in his living room, promising to make his dreams come true. He had to provide letters of recommendation. He wrote an essay about the Summit High School experience. And he sent his application off.

    An email arrived in February. He stared at his inbox, nervous in way he hadn't felt since football. He knew he would get in, but he couldn't bring himself to read it. The absurdity of it all made him laugh. Finally, he opened it. Congratulations! On behalf of your colleagues in the Stanford Graduate School of Education ...

    One morning shortly after, Luck was hanging out with T.Y. Hilton, one of his favorite receivers from the Colts. Luck told Hilton how much he loved and missed the game, and that he was thinking about coaching and teaching in high school. "I'm going back to school."

    It made perfect sense, Hilton thought. Luck wanted that audience again, a huddle again, wanted to share expertise, wanted to order people around, wanted to be Andrew Luck again -- which was loving football, yes, but also loving something else that football provided and few other aspects of life can.

    JUST NOT AS quarterback, not for the Colts nor anywhere in the NFL, no matter how much the team hopes he will somehow change his mind and pick up where he left off in 2019, saving the organization, city and maybe himself. After he retired, Luck occasionally dropped by the facility, tutoring Ballard's son, Cole, who's a high school quarterback, and hanging out with Reich. For a while, Luck and Reich tiptoed around football. Then, suddenly, Luck couldn't stop discussing key plays from Colts games and offering advice. Reich wondered, Is he telling me, subliminally, that he wants to play again?

    At one point, Reich was driving when "Message in a Bottle" played on the radio. It's a sign! Reich thought. He pulled over and sent Luck a long text, beginning it with, "I'm sending out an SOS."

    "I appreciate the message in the bottle," Luck replied. But the answer was no. "There are things I miss," he says. "But there are things that, one, I'm not willing to give up about my life now, and two, that I don't want to put myself through again."

    The day after Luck retired, Ballard addressed the organization. After almost two decades of Manning and Luck, he said, "We're going to understand how the rest of the league lives."

    It has been a bracing reality. Reich was fired midway through this season, after he cycled through five starting passers since Luck retired, winning a majority of his games but lacking the kind of quarterback who once orchestrated fourth-quarter comebacks of 17 points against Jacksonville in 2016, 13 points against the Titans in 2015, 18 points against the Texans; who sent Peyton Manning home in the playoffs in 2014; who flipped a game-winning, walk-off touchdown pass against Detroit in 2012; who in the playoff comeback against the Chiefs in 2014 told Hilton on the sideline to spontaneously switch to a different receiver position and "run your motherf---ing *** off" to the post and it led to the decisive touchdown; who is still idolized and imitated by kids; who sometimes had to dig himself out of his own hole but always delivered a clinical reassurance that the Colts had a chance.

    Earlier this year, Reich sifted through old video, looking for one of Luck's plays to show the team how to execute. He found the clip he wanted -- and then kept watching, mesmerized by his old quarterback, how fluid and precise, throw after throw, how so many lives could have been different by virtue of the powers and possibilities of this young man with the ball in his hands ...

    What a shame, Reich thought, that we didn't get to see what could have been.

    THERE'S UNCERTAIN HOPE in the air at 6:45 a.m. in early September, Luck's last full day in Indianapolis. He is in his backyard, overlooking the lake. The family's stuff is mostly packed up for Palo Alto. It's quiet and calm. The sky is orange layered on pink, mirroring off the water. Luck sits in a hoodie and shorts, with gray specks in his once-famous beard, holding a double espresso.

    "Life has been lived here," he says, looking at the lake. "Not perfect life. But life."

    A new life is approaching fast, and Luck is by turns antsy and ready. The stakes feel high. He's uprooting the entire family to a smaller house, new preschool and routines, with an infant, all for a new career he hopes is the right one. He's less declarative about it than he was earlier this year. "I want to coach and, or, teach in some capacity in my life," he says, leaving wiggle room. The remnants of his old life -- of hype, of cameras, of people assuming he has it all figured out, of expectations, from both himself and a public that might see him as someone who walks away from things after he spent most of his life sprinting toward them -- make him feel nervous and claustrophobic.

    He knows he can't coach on name alone. He wants to tour around and discuss the craft with high school coaches. He wants to be in a healthy enough state of mind that he doesn't dump his baggage on his players, like coaches sometimes did to him. He wants to know how he'll handle the inevitable moment when his quarterback rises from a big hit favoring his shoulder and tries to tough it out. Luck's friends tell him that he will be a great coach, but he knows there's no guarantee.

    "If I were to coach, what would I bring? Well, certainly an experience that's semi-unique on the scale of football experiences."

    He catches himself.

    "I shouldn't say semi-unique. Completely unique."

    THE EXISTENTIAL STRESS is real stress a few weeks later at Stanford, as Luck exits his philosophy of education class, exhausted and overwhelmed. It's the second week of school. We enter a caf?. He stands in front of a coffee machine, and I ask him about his day.

    "It's really, uh -- you want anything?"

    He fixes himself an espresso, his second of the morning. He looks like a college student -- flannel shirt, backpack, beat-up Stanford hat, which happens to be from his undergrad days -- and is fretting like one, worried about the course load, all of which is more complicated with a young family. He already dropped a class after feeling too close to the line of "losing touch" with Nicole and the kids, a boundary that after Holland he promised himself and the family he'd never cross, a reminder that his quarterback self, the guy who could so easily and ruthlessly exclude everything in life except the task at hand, is still in there. The photo on his Stanford ID is still the one he took at age 18, during his first days on campus. Little about the experience is familiar, except when he drops by the football offices. As a freshman and now, Luck came to campus wanting to be something. Back then, the choice was clear -- and felt less like a choice than it does now.

    "I'm choosing to be here 100 percent," he says. "And get as much out as I want to put in."

    Only now he doesn't have absolute clarity about what that something might be, which is both terrifying and fun, depending on the day. He knows he is retracing the steps he took as a young man, hoping that this time he might take a different path somewhere along the road, even as he swears he isn't trying to go back in time.

    He sits at a table at an outdoor caf? on campus as students hustle to class, and takes an hour to try to sort it out, starting broad and philosophical, like he does in his journals.

    "Why would I want to go to school?" he asks.

    He talks about growth and knowledge. He confesses to feeling like an "old f---ing curmudgeon" figuring out how to register for classes online. He tells me about a group of 17 other students in his program he's meeting with -- all in their late 20s and mid-30s -- all of whom wanted a career change and have landed here too. Some know who Luck is, some don't.

    "It's been really cool," he says.

    They don't tend to ask him about football or coaching. They don't seem to think he has it all figured out, and they're not disappointed in him for walking away. It's not about what he was with them.

    "I need to live this before the story's written," he says.

    He looks at his phone. Time to pick up Lucy from school. He walks to his bike, the only one at the rack with a toddler's seat, and fiddles with the lock. He straps on his helmet, hops on and cycles up campus, weaving around students walking to class, gaining speed before rounding a corner, and once again, Andrew Luck is gone.

    Leave a comment:

  • Bball
    I've not found any links to the full article, just dribs and drabs. But this Yahoo piece has the most that I've found so far. Confirming what McAfee seemingly confirmed, the shoulder injury was an offseason snowboarding injury... There's some info on the mysterious Netherlands trip here. Info on his wife's place in all of this. His regret he didn't retire sooner.

    As the Colts go down in flames, I admit I'm only growing more salty at Quitterback Andrew Luck and his role in all of this. While it's his life and he can do what he wants, he basically quit. He wasn't forced to quit. It sounds to me like he didn't talk about it because he himself knew he was quitting more than being forced from the game or anything like that.

    Probably one of the most odd situations in all of pro sports. High level star QB just walking away from the game before age 30 because he decided he didn't want to play any longer.

    That this all ties into Peyton Manning, and Luck probably being the only QB that would've made them consider moving on from Manning rather than gambling on Manning's age and recovery, just adds more intrigue to the entire saga.

    'A silent hell': The night Andrew Luck broke down, and what he regrets about his retirement
    Matthew VanTryon, Indianapolis Star
    Tue, December 6, 2022 at 1:38 PM?4 min read
    In this article:

    Andrew Luck

    For years, after he walked away, Andrew Luck became an invisible part of the world in which he’d once been a hero. Instead of practicing at the Indianapolis Colts' complex, he walked by and took his daughter to soccer practice. The film room in the house he’d built in Indianapolis became an office. The physical therapy room turned into a guest room.

    It was here he transformed himself, from someone who identified as a great quarterback to someone who identifies as a husband, a father, a student. Maybe one day, he’ll be a coach.

    But whatever he pursues next, he’ll do it with a different perspective – one that only comes through experiences that left the former NFL quarterback living in, as ESPN’s Seth Wickersham describes, "a silent hell, scared and panicking."

    * * *

    One night in Holland, Andrew Luck finally broke.

    He couldn’t fathom how he found himself here. In 2015, he’d missed nine games with a labrum injury, a partial abdominal tear and a lacerated kidney. During the 2016 offseason, he’d separated his AC joint in a snowboarding accident. He missed the entire 2017 season.

    Willem Kramer, a trainer, suggested Luck and his then-girlfriend Nicole Pechanec get away for a while. Off he went, to the Netherlands.

    He couldn’t use his right arm to do the exercises Kramer assigned.

    From Wickersham:

    He wasn't sleeping well, he was in pain, he was fighting with Nicole, the team was halfway across the globe without him, and if he stopped to examine his life, the entire world he had constructed might start to unravel, perhaps revealing it to be fatally flawed all along. "I understood myself best as a quarterback," Luck says. "I felt no understanding of other parts of myself at all."

    Nicole was prepared to leave him if nothing changed. Then one night, he broke. He cried, he cursed, he vented, he confessed, and most of all, he leveled with Nicole in a way she thought he was incapable of. "There were some things that when I looked in the mirror, I did not like about myself," he says. "I was self-absorbed, withdrawn, in pain, and feeling pressure." —

    After about a few weeks in Holland, Luck started to see a professional therapist. And Kramer started to serve not only as a trainer but as a couple's counselor of sorts, trying to teach Andrew and Nicole about communication and identity, both as individuals and as a unit. One day, Kramer asked Luck, "Aren't you more than a quarterback?"

    "Huh?" Luck said.

    "I mean, that's fine – I guess. What you do on the field is amazing. But aren't you more than that?"

    Luck thought so, but maybe not. It took weeks, but Luck was at the early stages of trying to shed his former self – his quarterback self – in favor of a person he didn't know yet.

    * * *

    He came back for one more magical season in 2018. He threw 39 touchdown passes, led the Colts back to the playoffs and won Comeback Player of the Year. But even then, he was still in pain. Midway through the season, his foot and ankle began bothering him. He strained his ankle at the Pro Bowl.

    — Looking back, Luck wishes he had told the team, "I gave it all I had this year, but this is no more for me."

    Instead, he told everyone that he'd be all right.

    Years later, after he’d stepped away from the game, he told a group of kids he wished he’d done it differently.

    More from Wickersham:

    "What's your biggest regret from your NFL career?" a kid asked.

    Luck cursed in his mind, having hoped for a softball. "Good question!" he said, and he decided to tell a group of kids what he had never said publicly:

    "I regret the timing of when I retired."

    He felt he had let people down, for which he had to learn how to forgive himself. What mattered to him most about football, what he wanted the kids to learn, was the "uber accountability." He knew that his own ideas of accountability and of football were more complicated than the romantic version that he had shared. And yet on the drive home that afternoon, Luck couldn't stop smiling at the thought of those romantic notions. Of sitting in meetings and geeking out for 45 minutes on one play. Of tough moments, when he was hurting or reckless with the ball. Of dumb stuff, like being whacked by pool noodles in practice to reduce fumbles.
    Last edited by Bball; 12-07-2022, 10:56 AM.

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  • Sollozzo
    The McAfee video was interesting, but he’s wrong to say we made the AFCCG when Luck was a rookie. That was actually Luck’s third year. We lost to Baltimore in the wildcard when Luck was a rookie.

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  • Hoop
    Originally posted by Slick Pinkham View Post
    Baker Mayfield, anyone?
    I wanted Mayfield or Jimmy G before we got Ryan. I was fooled into believing in Ryan. By the time the season rolled around I was all in on Ryan, I was so so wrong.

    I was right about Jimmy G being a very good QB, but was also wrong. The guy just can't stay healthy, it's always something.

    Mayfield, I just don't know. I thought he was mostly good at Cleveland. He played his last season there while being hurt most of the season. He didn't play well in Carolina, but then again nobody has looked good there. I just don't know about him. He'd have to be better than Ryan.

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  • Bball
    Pat McAfee discusses the article-

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  • Bball
    Quitterback Andrew Luck is apparently speaking out now.... But the majority of it is behind the ESPN + paywall:

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  • Slick Pinkham
    Baker Mayfield, anyone?

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  • Sollozzo
    ^ Yeah, Collinsworth said the line looked better recently in the tape he watched. Also, it’s hard on the line when the defense can blitz nonstop because they know we can’t quickly get rid of the ball down filed.

    Line has looked better recently. Run game has looked better recently. Some of the receivers have made plays recently. But the QB play is as bad as it’s ever been and that’s just totally ruined the team.
    Last edited by Sollozzo; 12-05-2022, 09:13 PM.

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  • Doug
    I finally had a chance to watch a couple of games. It's a bit maddening to watch us play to about what I think our potential was at the beginning of the season, then just take a big ol' dump on my enthusiasm. First half against the Cowboys looked mostly OK. Then the pick, and their score right before half. Horrible.

    The line has improved with Saturday. The running game is better and there is generally more time to pass. It's not just the chaos and ineptitude we had before. Both those still happen with disturbing regularity. One play last night left Ryan Kelly with two people to try to pick up, so one got a free run at the QB. I'm not sure if it was screwed up pre-snap or if somebody took the wrong person, but that really shouldn't happen. Another was a trap where somebody (C or RG) got blown back off the ball and the TE couldn't get past him to block the DE. The line play still isn't "good" but at least they don't want to make me turn off the TV in disgust.

    But really all the improved line play has done is expose Matt Ryan. Everything is SLOW. Reads. Decisions. Passes lack velocity. Ball security. I hold my breath on any short throws outside. Obviously these issues showed up from the start of the season, but before you could say that it really wasn't all his fault due tot the line play. Now, it's hard to draw any other conclusion. (we have other problems, mind you, but he's definitely one.). I thought we'd get 2 good years. Not sure benching does any good at this point, unless they want to go back to the "lets see how Sam looks for the rest of the season". I just don't see any way he's back after this year.

    <sigh> I know a worse record is a better draft pick. But can we at least be competitive or at least not painful and frustrating to watch?
    Last edited by Doug; 12-05-2022, 05:58 PM. Reason: typos, so many typos

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  • Bball
    Originally posted by Sollozzo View Post

    I thought things would work out well with Ryan here. Probably the worst sports prediction I’ve ever made.
    I'm right there with you. My concern wasn't really THIS season with Ryan... Maybe as to the ceiling, but I thought he'd be fine at keeping the Colts competitive and within the playoff picture. Whether there'd be SB dreams as the season went on is a different question.
    I expected the problem to come in on how quickly he'd decline projecting out into the future. Was he a 2 year rental with one good year? 2 years but too much of a ceiling or question to commit beyond that? Looking like the end wasn't in sight yet?
    But instead... he's just looked washed up from the start, and although maybe early you cut some slack for him being new to the Colts, ultimately, he's just looked worse and worse with a couple of decent moments along with SEVERAL moments of looking 'done'.
    Last edited by Bball; 12-05-2022, 09:10 PM.

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  • Sollozzo
    If there’s one decision I bet Saturday could have a mulligan on (other than agreeing to coach this mess in the first place), it would have to be the decision to go back to Ryan. We should have gone with Foles or simply just let Ehlinger keep playing.

    We have not done much of anything right recently…..but benching Ryan when we did was 100% correct. He’s just beyond done. It’s painful to watch.

    So that begs the question, WHY is Ryan still playing? It’s embarrassing for the team, embarrassing for him, etc. Add into that the financial risk for 2023 if he gets injured, and it’s totally insane.

    I thought things would work out well with Ryan here. Probably the worst sports prediction I’ve ever made.

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  • Bball
    Normally, there's drama on 3rd down for an offense. But, unless it's 3rd and a yard and an almost obvious run, I fully expect a QB sack every 3rd down for the Colts' offense.
    Maybe if Ryan was better on 1st and 2nd down, there wouldn't be so many obvious passing situations on 3rd down to where pass protection weaknesses are getting exploited. Plus maybe the team could call some plays that rolls out the QB and takes some pressure off the line.

    I hate putting everything on Ryan, but he's playing so poorly that many of the other potential fixes, or stopgap fixes, cannot be tried. He's not suddenly going to be a mobile QB, nor find velocity for his passes, nor throw missiles and darts down the field. And ball protection isn't his forte either now. Sooooo???
    We have Foles and Ehrlinger. It's time to do what was already done and bench Ryan and keep him there. It would be more fun to watch the team, even losing, if we were at least getting to see Ehrlinger getting a chance. AND if the team could at least be competitive, then put Foles in and see what happens. One or the other... or something... The one wrong move is sticking with Ryan.

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  • Hoop
    Ryan is just awful. Fumbles, interceptions, horrible decisions. I actually thought he was going to be the answer this season. He's been the main problem.

    I still don't think the supporting cast is that bad. The defense is decent, even with Shaq missing the entire season. Question mark coming into the season was the receivers, they're not that bad. The O-line has been mostly bad though.

    Even with all the turnovers we've been in most of the games. I don't think we're that far off, if had just decent QB play. I don't think we need a total rebuild.

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  • BornIndy
    Wow. I stopped watching after Allie-Cox fumbled. 54 points?!

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  • Bball
    Forget questioning Jeff Saturday's game management for taking timeouts to the lockerroom. Question his game management for leaving Ryan in tonight's game...

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