I’ll miss Luck’s genuineness

I was visiting some friends Saturday night when the news of Andrew Luck’s retirement hit social media.

All of us were gathered around a bonfire, talking about football, and I was scrolling through Twitter when Adam Schefter’s tweet came across my feed.

Now, I’m not a Colts fan but just about every one of my friends is and I had to tell them to shut up and listen.

Their reactions were just about what I expected.

Confusion, needing to know if what I just said was true. Then, later, shock.

I, too, was shocked by the decision but, after hearing his impromptu press conference following the Colts’ preseason game with the Chicago Bears, I understand it.

Colts fans are going to miss Andrew Luck more than just this season. He was, after all, supposed to take them to a Super Bowl this year if you believed the hype.

I’m not going to spend anymore time on the initial reaction of fans booing Luck as he exited the field for the final time other than to say it’s a bad look.

What I will say is that I’m going to miss his honesty and genuineness both on and off the field.

When I first started covering sports in Hendricks County in 2016, I was given the privilege to cover the Colts. It was also a way to get photo credentials for my contract photographers as a way to make up for my inability to pay them what they were worth.

I got to attend all the home games and even went out to Wednesday practices and was able to talk to some players. It was a cool experience and an introduction to what being an NFL beat reporter is like.

The first time I ever sat in on one of Luck’s post-game press conferences, he came in shortly after doing his TV interview for FOX or CBS and was still dressed in his pads with his helmet in hands.

I’m pretty versed in football player/coach speak and it’s something that comes with covering the sport. Most, if not all, players and coaches are trained to say nothing of substance.

And that’s not to say the journalists covering the teams are asking dumb questions, because a lot of them are, but something about football players makes them clamp up.

However, even when Luck was giving the media his best word salad about what happened on that final play that cost them a game, it felt like he meant what he said.

It wasn’t just words to satisfy a sound bite so he could move on to the next question and be another step closer to going home. It felt like he thought about what he was trying to say and it wasn’t just to check a box.

Luck always answered each question that was lobbed at him, or however many the public relations department said he had time for, and it’s part of what made him so endearing to those of us in the media.

I also think why a lot of us have come out to defend him in the wake his retirement and subsequent fan reaction.

But his time in front a microphone or voice recorder shouldn’t define his time in Indianapolis. Hell, neither should his performance on the field but it will.

Luck has devoted tremendous amounts of time to charitable causes. Reading to children at Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis as well as his book club.

I sincerely hope his love for books revives the brick and mortar book stores.

There are enough viral videos out there of him reading to children and sharing in their enthusiasm almost like he’s still a child himself. One that sticks out to me is when he asks a group of children if they like doing homework. They all tell him no and he agrees but then he quickly backpedals, realizing he shouldn’t be telling kids to not do homework.

However, it doesn’t beat his June 2017 book club video where he excitedly exclaims, "Happy June," before he tells you his book of the month.

I wish Andrew Luck was sticking around because his love for football and his child-like fervor for life was something everyone could appreciate. But he’s not and I applaud the bravery behind the decision. Still, I’ll selfishly miss his sound bites on game weeks.

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