Thursday, April 26, 2012

An Invitation to Andrew Luck, Soon-To-Be College Graduate

So, uh, nice to meet you, Mister Luck. Er... can I call you Andrew?

*awkward silence*

Crazy last few months, huh?

*nervous laughter*
*clears throat*

*sigh*

Okay, kid, let's be real. We are at the intersection of ideal situation and suck-fest, so let's just get that out of the way. You said you were cool with coming to Indy. We're happy to have you. Welcome to the family. Want some pie? We're big on pie around here. HAVE SOME PIE! Good boy, thanks.

I first started hearing buzz about you a couple of years ago, when Trent Dilfer did that whole "Alpha Dog the Other Alpha Dogs Will Follow" thing. He said he'd never seen anyone quite like you. You were the full, complete package. You were READY. You were the kind of competitor that liked to step on your opponents' throats and squeeze the life out of them.

And I said, "Ooo, fun. It's gonna be a shame when he becomes a Raider in a couple of years."

But then it got ugly and weird. Peyton went to the Broncos. Pretty much everyone else left, too. Except Reggie Wayne. I think you'll like him. Oh, and as far as I know, we still have a kicker.

We haven't had a top, TOP draft pick in a long time. Those players are supposed to go to Oakland or Cleveland where they can be properly ruined. It doesn't seem real that you're one of us now. Your name is 'Luck' and the symbol on our helmet is a horseshoe. All of these things falling in to place the way they have - I want to believe it's destiny.

We're happy to have you, but we're not sure what to do with you. Please be patient with us. Give us a little time to adjust. You're well aware of what you're up against. You want to be the best. You want to break records and win championships. But it won't be that simple for you.

Any record you break will be Peyton's record - which, in many cases, will also mean breaking the NFL record at the same time. There isn't a lot you can do that Peyton hasn't already done. He was the king of the 10+ wins seasons. He went to two Super Bowls (and arguably should have had more). He did commercials and Saturday Night Live and had his face plastered all over the league. If you want to make your mark, if you want to be remembered, you have your work cut out for you.

You already know that.

We already know that.

We'll do our best not to forget.

So, here's the deal, kid. We know you're smart. We respect that you stayed in school and finished your Stanford degree. We respect your character - you've done EVERYTHING right in the midst of this really sucky situation. We know you've got all the potential in the world, and we know that you're NEVER going to be Peyton.

We invite you to be yourself.

We invite you to learn and grow and make mistakes, so long as you continue representing us well.

Win one game, kid. Get that first completion, that first touchdown, and then that first win. Get that first mistake out of your system, then get over it. Blow a game in dramatic Curtis Painter fashion if you've got to, but then shake it off. This advice applies to any new college graduate, really - the only difference is that you'll be learning in front of massive TV audiences.

A couple of weeks ago, I met a lovely young writer named Tahereh Mafi. She signed my book in thick sharpy with the words Be Extraordinary. There's a lot to love about those words - an open-ended optimism of infinite possibilities. That's my personal invitation to you, Andrew Luck. I invite you to be extraordinary. Play with joy. Smile. Allow us invite you in to our homes 16, 17, 19 Sundays a year. Allow us look forward to spending time with you. Allow us to hope and cheer and live and die right there on the field beside you.

Let us fall in love with you.

I've heard that Indianapolis is a city full of Peyton Manning fans, not Colts fans. Maybe it's true, maybe it's not. Please, give us a chance to find out.