The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

Bickett’s Ticket: Dec 1, 2011

Andrew Luck is going to be one of the best NFL quarterbacks for the next 10-15 years. If you’ve been watching NFL Draft coverage the past couple of years, the previous statement is nothing new to you. For those who haven’t been watching, Luck is a senior quarterback at Stanford this season and is the projected number one pick in the upcoming NFL Draft.  People who look at the glass as half-empty would disagree with Luck’s guaranteed success, and I count myself among the doubters.

I don’t dispute Luck’s ability, because that would be absurd.  He’s got the perfect build for a quarterback, at 6’4” and 235 pounds, with quick feet.  He’s completed over 70 percent of his passes the last two years, with over 30 touchdown passes in both years as well.  He has an almost 4:1 touchdown to interception ratio over those two years, which means he doesn’t make many bad throws or bad decisions.

My issue with Luck has nothing to do with his own actions. My issue is with all the analysts who seem to think that Luck’s NFL success is predetermined and a foregone conclusion.

Going back to 1998, 11 quarterbacks have been taken with the first overall pick in the NFL Draft. Names of successful quarterbacks like Peyton Manning, Michael Vick, and Eli Manning stand out. But all I can focus on are the complete and utter disasters that have been chosen.  Tim Couch, David Carr, and to some extent, Alex Smith, while having longer careers, never lived up to the hype of being chosen as the first overall pick. Then there’s JaMarcus Russell, who has been called the biggest draft bust in NFL history by’s Steve Wyche. I actually think the trauma of having picked Russell contributed to Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis’ death in October.

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Besides the issue of succeeding as an NFL quarterback, there’s always the issue of injury, or to be way too dramatic, death.  St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford injured his shoulder as a junior at Oklahoma in 2009, and only played in four of his team’s 13 games that year. On a more serious note, there’s the story of Len Bias, who played basketball for North Carolina State in the 1980s.  By all accounts, Bias was Michael Jordan before anyone knew who Michael Jordan was. He was a high-flying, electric player who was chosen by the Boston Celtics as the second overall pick in the 1986 NBA Draft. He never got to play with Larry Bird and the other Celtics, however, because he died of a cocaine overdose on draft night. He was a sure thing and a guarantee just like Luck, but never became who people thought he would be.

This season in the NFL, there are some awful teams. The Indianapolis Colts have yet to win a game, and are proving the theory that Peyton Manning plus a football team equals wins. When you take away Manning, you take away the wins as well.  There are Colts fans out there who are already buying Colts jerseys with Luck’s name and number 12 on the back.

There are analysts who are saying teams shouldn’t try to actively lose, but it’s probably best if they just don’t try as hard as they should. There have been multiple teams using the “suck for Luck” strategy, as it’s been called, but the Colts look like the front-runners as of right now, unless they do something stupid like win a game or something.

But as you can see, there’s always a danger involved when you count your chickens before they hatch, or write a check you can’t cash, or any number of other related clichés.

Now this could all end up being irrelevant and Luck could end up being the savior Colts fans hope he is.  If this happens, I have no issue with eating crow because I was wrong. But if Luck isn’t as successful as all the pundits say he will, then those same fans shouldn’t act like they never thought Luck would be bad. Because there’s no such thing as a sure thing.

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