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Andrew Luck Retiring from NFL

According to Adam Schefter, he's "mentally worn down" from fighting injuries and "ready to walk away." According to Darren Rovell, he's giving up $58.1 million in future earnings. We knew he wasn't healthy and might not start in Week 1, but I don't think anyone pictured him walking away. I'm not sure if I can remember a more shocking, out of nowhere retirement announcement in the NFL. I suppose he could come back in a year after he mentally and physically resets himself? Meanwhile, Jacoby Brissett is now the starting quarterback of the Colts and the Colts are no longer the favorites to win the AFC South. (By our numbers, it's probably now Tennessee.)

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167 comments, Last at 30 Aug 2019, 3:20pm

1 Whoa

I guess this means the scramble for the ball AFC south predictions need to be redone???

2 "I'm not sure if I can…

"I'm not sure if I can remember a more shocking, out of nowhere retirement announcement in the NFL."

Barry Sanders was definitely more shocking. I think Calvin Johnson and Sterling Sharpe were comparable.

3 Patrick Willis?

I'd say Patrick Willis is the most similar. Absolutely, unquestionably elite at his peak, but worn down by injuries at the end. Retired young before he did too much damage to his body. Both Luck and Willis carried their units, elevating everyone around them, and their retirements turned the 49ers D/Colts O from at worst a top 15 unit to the bottom third of the league at best.

13 I was too young to have an…

I was too young to have an opinion at the time, but Sanders was 31 at the time he retired, and was a running back. I can't imagine a 31-year old RB retiring is as shocking as a 29-year old QB. 31 is old for a RB.

26 I'd push back on that

Running backs were viewed differently at the time, and 31 wasn't particularly old, especially for a good one. And Sanders, specifically, was still considered to be near the top of the peak. He had rushed for 1400 yards the year before, and he was only one year removed from his 2000 yard, MVP season. As a personal note, I had the version of Madden that year and IIRC he was still a 99 rating. He was still considered a franchise cornerstone.

Knowing what we know now about RB career curves, a retirement at age 31 doesn't seem as surprising. But at the time, it was definitely thought that he had left a lot of All-Pro quality seasons on the table.

47 re sanders

Sanders was also within 1 great or 1.5 good seasons of breaking Payton's record. I think Sanders was more shocking because, unlike Luck, Sanders had no history of nagging injuries. He was beloved and one of the most popular players in the league in the 90s (possibly the most). But like Luck, he screwed his team over by retiring after the draft and free agency. That said the 99 Lions made the playoffs, and would have in 2000 as well if not for a crazy Paul Edinger Bears fg in the finale. 


58 I think the timing makes…

In reply to by Jetspete

I think the timing makes Luck more surprising.  If Luck had retired between February and June, it wouldn't have been shocking - knowing his injury history.  But to pull the plug 2 weeks before the season starts makes it more shocking to me than Sanders was.

52 Less so at the time, and…

Less so at the time, and Sanders retired earlier than his healthy contemporaries (Thomas, 34; Smith, 35; Bettis, 36). The guys who retired at his age did so because they broke down (Davis, 28; Martin, 32; George, 31).

It's remarkable that Sanders had 500 fewer career carries than Curtis Martin, and 1000 fewer than Smith.

But some of the shock was the manner. Barry literally phoned the Lions from a payphone in Detroit Metro Airport and told them he was retired just before he boarded a plane to France to marry a newscaster no one knew he was dating. It's amazing he kept either of those things secret, lot alone dropping both bombshells at once!

9 They tried, they just had…

They tried, they just had the wrong people in charge, though Grigson and Pagano seemed like good hires at the time.

Luck retiring just as the colts landed a renaissance in terms of the draft hurts. They will be too talented to bottom out to draft a pick like Lawrence or Tua the way they did when Peyton was gone.

A sad moment and a definite what could have been. I selfishly hope he changes his mind. At his peak, he is an elite qb imo

59 If the old guys (Brees,…

If the old guys (Brees, Brady, Rivers, Roethlisberger and I guess Rodgers) all stick around for next season, there may not be many teams in the market for a QB in the 2020 draft.  Maybe just Miami and Tennessee?  Maybe there would be a little musical chairs with guys like Dalton and Flacco.  It might not be too hard for Indianapolis to find a competent QB for 2020.  Though he may already be on the roster in Brissett.

5 Tank for Tua? Languish for…

Tank for Tua?
Languish for Lawrence?

But seriously, all the best to Luck. It’s good to see a player have the guts to just walk away when they’re not feeling it anymore and/or have had their fill of injuries. I will miss @CaptAndrewLuck though. :)

(Apparently Brady’s Dorian Grey picture in his basement somewhere has offensive capabilities.)

6 Wow. As a colts fan....deep…

Wow. As a colts fan....deep sigh.

Oh well, good for him if it makes him happier. But just a tough pill to swallow for the rest of us.

23 I think the team is too…

I think the team is too talented now to do that though one should never underestimate the potential damage a bad quarterback can do.


With average quarterback play ( which I don't think they will get) they top out as an Andy Dalton red Bengals team. 

10 I'm not even an AFC fan,…

I'm not even an AFC fan, much less a Colts fan, but, man, I really have a pronounced dislike (as much as one can really dislike a total stranger) of Ryan Grigson and Jimmy 'Effin Irsay. Ugh and Doubleugh.

Ultimately, however, Luck's a smart guy, and should have seen the trainwreck looming. He should have refused to work for the Colts any longer when there was still a year left on his rookie deal. Really wish he had.

11 The people blame Irsay, but…

The people blame Irsay, but I honestly don't get it. As always you have to judge these things in real time. By the time Peyton Manning had his injury in the colts had collapsed, it was clear to everybody that the colts had hit rock bottom and had no talent in that falls on the feet of Bill polian. The cleaning house made a lot of sense. It seems like people want to blame him for hanging onto a Donald and gregson for too long. While that makes a lot of sense in hindsight, we can't also simultaneously blame the browns for firing a coach every year.
the colts have been to two AFC championship games and lost to the one team that everybody loses to. There is a balance between showing patience and being impetuous and Jim tried to do the right thing, he gave his coaches and GM's enough of a tenure to see their vision through. it didn't work but that's the risk of doing that.

Andrew luck quitting football is sad but I don't know how you can blame that on irsay. In the end, sometimes you hit Peyton Manning sometimes you hit Andrew luck and sometimes you hit and Ryan leaf.

14 Yes, a good businessman…

Yes, a good businessman could easily have hired Grigson, but the point is that it was has been quite obvious for a very long time that Irsay is a terrible businessman, and his management of Grigson and Pagano was evidence of that. Jim Irsay has zero track record of management success, unless you think that it took great insight to hire Polian, or to have the worst record when Peyton Manning or Andrew Luck were available. 

My larger point is that if you are a generational talent, with hundreds of millions of dollars at stake, you need to seize control of your professional environment, and the first step in doing that is picking which owner and gm you partner with. Peyton, no doubt with dad's advice, rightly thought Polian made Irsay acceptable. Eli, in contrast, wanted no part of Alex Spanos and A.J. Smith, so he made it impossible for the Chargers to draft him. Eli, a far lesser talent than either his brother or Rivers, may well have earned an extra hundred million dollars by forcing his way to a franchise with a track record of competency. It ought to be noted that John Elway had the same foresight, oddly enough with Jimmy Irsay's criminal father being the owner to be avoided.

High end NFL qbs really do have power approaching that of elite NBA superstars, and they really need to start managing their careers like those elite NBA superstars, especially given how much more physically dangerous the NFL is.




17 But what mistake did Irsay…

But what mistake did Irsay make? He hired Grigson and Pagano and they improved every year until they didn't. He let them have a two year stint before they were let go. That doesn't strike me as vastly different from most owners. 

Im not arguing Irsay is a good owner, but who exactly is he demonstrably worse than? The Texans by comparison have had less success with a better owner. Does that matter?

19 It was obvious the Grigson…

It was obvious the Grigson and Pagano partnership wasn't viable well before Irsay dissolved it. More importantly, you don't need to have a brilliant football mind as an owner to grasp that Luck's future was the Colt's future, and that a plan to keep him from getting the feces stomped out of him was paramount. If there was such a plan, I didn't see it.

I didn't write Irsay was a terrible owner. I wrote he was a terrible businessman. Who would have been better? Let me put it this way. Imagine you are a young entrepreneur, with a business plan with  three or four hundred million dollars in potential profits over the next 15 to 20 years, if you have the right billionaire partner. Who are you going to pick? The guy who became a billionaire because his dad stole the equivalent of a hundred million dollar, back when the equivalent of a 100 million was the price of entry into this cartel which prints money?The guy who then, as a billionaire, was arrested for driving around intoxicated with a brief case full of cash and illegally obtained prescriptions? Or, I dunno, one of the billionaires who gained that status from outsmarting, as a young entrepreneur himself, the largest corporations in the world, and then having a two decade plus track record of competency? Or the guy who inherited the business like Irsay, but then successfully managed it through multiple cycles that are nearly inevitable due to random luck, without ever hitting rock bottom? I think it was pretty knowable that there were better partners than Irsay. 

I don't mean to be too hard on Luck. I think LeBron James, as good an athlete entrepreneur as there is, likely made an error in choosing to partner with Jeannie Buss instead of Steve Ballmer. At least their was a process involved, however, and James really did think he was partnering with Magic Johnson as well. James may have picked wrong, but he knew he was picking and that it was a huge choice.

I strongly suspect Luck has had very little awareness, comparatively, of the inherent power he had to choose his partners, and that with hundreds of millions of dollars on the line, it was a choice demanding a thoroughly analytical and somewhat ruthless approach. This surprises me, because I think Luck is pretty smart, and he has a father who knows the industry, much like the Manning brothers. I just wish Luck had seized the reins with more authority.




20 I'm not sure a good owner *would* have hired Grigson

I'm a 'Hawks fan, but I live in northern Indiana (the only times I've seen them play in person the last decade have been their two losses at Lucas Oil).  A while back, I was grousing to a co-worker about Grigson's idiocy in handling Luck and what it had cost the Colts, and he surprised me by responding, "Well, he was an idiot in high school, too."  He had a couple stories to tell which justified his comment.  Sure, we're all idiots to some degree in high school, but it sounded to me like he was an idiot by comparison--enough to make me think that someone who was good at personnel would have hired someone else.

28 Interesting, but..... As you…

Interesting, but..... As you state, Andrew Luck has a father who knows the industry.  I think it more likely that the Lucks are smart but did not think the risk of playing for Indianapolis was so great as to require counter-action, as distinguished from not assessing the risk at all.  In other words, they just came to a different decision than you.

The Lucks could not have had any basis to assess the Grigson-Pagano partnership as of the time your exemplar QBs Eli Manning and John Elway made their moves:  the draft.  Grigson and Pagano were hired after the 2-14 season that gave the Colts the first draft pick, the one used to select Luck.  Neither had a track record, nor was there solid information on how they would work together, at the time of the Luck draft. 

Thus, any criticism of the Lucks' decision-making as of that important point in time arising from the two executives' relationship is based in hindsight.  And while Jim Irsay had been the owner with a public record as of the time of the draft, that record did not suggest problems with star quarterbacks or coaches.  To the contrary, Peyton Manning had flourished -- and, by the way, by many accounts had garnered considerable decision-making power as well (over the offense).  You hold up the Mannings as shrewd decision-makers (I don't disagree), yet one of the Mannings had just concluded a positive experience with Jim Irsay's Indianapolis Colts.  On what purported basis were Andrew and Oliver Luck supposed to come to a different conclusion?  Surely you're not suggesting that Mr. Irsay should have been tagged with the record of his father (who, by the way, never was convicted of any crime and may never have been charged with any crime--there is no mention of that in his Wikipedia biography).

OK, so the Colts drafted Luck.  They picked up Luck's fifth year option for 2015.  Luck could have decided not to re-sign with the Colts -- at the highest salary in the league -- in 2016.  Perhaps the Lucks should have thought otherwise, as by this time Luck had the kidney injury in 2015 that in hindsight had not been managed properly and Irsay also had experienced legal issues arising from drug addiction. 

That being said, the evidence at the time was mixed.  With the exception of the 2015 season marred by the kidney injury, the Pagano-Grigson Colts had made the playoffs each year.  The team also had hired Pep Hamilton, Luck's OC at Stanford, in 2013, albeit they fired him after the 2015 season.   ESPN has published a transcript of Luck's press conference yesterday.  Significantly, Luck praised Irsay and Pagano, although unless I missed it he did not refer to Grigson.  In particular, Luck thanked Irsay for easing the transition from Manning.  As a SF Bay Area resident, I know all about difficult QB transitions...a significant segment of the fan base, and many media members, took years to come to grips with Trading Dear Old Joe in order to replace him with a league MVP.

Thus, at the point in time your criticism could have merit, surely the status assessment was less clear than you assert.  Moreover, even if the Lucks had decided not to proceed with the Colts, I think you severely underestimated the difficulties of them taking the type of shrewd, ruthless action you posit.  Your exemplar LeBron James has been unfairly pilloried for years for daring to make decisions about where he works and lives -- and, as you acknowledge, may have made an incorrect decision recently (I'm not so sure).  Kevin Durant has since been attacked by the yahoos in the fan base and media on similar grounds.  The same type of criticism and baseless character assassination went a long way to ruining Dwight Howard's career, when in a more rational world Howard would be regarded as a successful first draft pick (remember Kwame Brown?) and as a player who battled debilitating back injuries. 

And these examples are in professional basketball, where the legal and cultural norms favor the players more so than in most pro sports.  I think it amply safe to say the National Football League has hardly been an accommodating place for players rocking the boat in any respect.  Indeed, when the owners decided the entire player base was irrelevant in 1987, the media and fans lapped up the ersatz proffered as NFL football so quickly as to force the players to cave in a matter of weeks.  I don't recall what response Jack and John Elway faced, and Eli Manning got a pass because he chose the league and media's darling hometown team.  However, Leveon Bell didn't exactly come off well when he decided to try to get involved in the organization for which he'd be playing, nor have drafted players who "hold out" (itself a biased term) been well regarded.   

In the end, "I just wish Luck had seized the reins with more authority" is nice, but isn't the real issue, "I wish the NFL allowed the players to seize the reins with more authority"?  A good wish, but a different one.  In the end, the Lucks (or Andrew Luck) did seize the reins and exercise authority -- by retiring.



41 I have no idea why you are…

I have no idea why you are bringing in examples of fans, in their inevitable ignorance,  stupidly yelping about athletes managing their business like a business. That has no relevance, except in the very short term.

Peyton Manning had Polian in place when he was drafted by Irsay's team. Would he have viewed going to the Colts in the same way if Polian hadn't been there? I don't know, but it would have been smart to be wary. I certainly don't hold Jimmy responsible for his criminal father (go to the SI vaults for an education on Robert Irsay's involvement in an illegal price fixing cartel which resulted in other thieves going to prison, while Bobby Irsay, who was at the center of it, and profited hugely from it, skated, via his cooperation. To those who respond with "never indicted!", I'll simply observe that Carlo Gambino never was, either), but the fact that his father obtained his wealth to get into the NFL via thievery, and then ran the team like crap, means Jimmy didn't receive any useful training. There never has been any reason to think that Jimmy Irsay, by himself, is a good business partner.

In any case, by September, 2013, there was no doubt that Grigson was an utter incompetent. Anybody who looked at Trent Richardson's 1st 16 games in the NFL, and decided to trade a 1st round pick for him, as your 2nd year generational talent at qb lived in constant danger in the pocket, is simply hopelessly in over his head. The moment that trade was made, Andrew Luck, with hundreds of millions of dollars at stake, should have been strategizing a path out of Indianapolis, and yes, I said so at the time. The idea that a highly coveted player has no power in these situations is simply without basis. Players who are coveted as much as Luck was can force their way out if they have the determination to do so. It helps a lot if you hire a bullet for an agent; I also said from day one that Luck was making an error in forgoing the services of, say, Tom Condon, and instead dragging his uncle, with zero NFL experience over to an agency without an extensive NFL book of business.


43 OK. let's delve further.  I…

OK. let's delve further.  I assume you mean the following as to Robert Irsay's history:


I'm not that impressed.  As an attorney, I'm very much aware of widespread assertions (including by the government) that simply aren't true that someone is guilty of Very Bad Things.  I have no idea whether it is a "fact" that pere Irsay "obtained his wealth to get into the NFL via thievery," but insist on high standards to make such an assertion.  In any event, as you admit, Jim is not responsible for whatever did or did not happen at dad's prior business.

I don't know if Bob was the only person who influenced Jim in terms of business (although to be certain Jim went to the Colts soon after he graduated from college so it's reasonable to infer dad was a major influence).  Per the same article, Bob Irsay sold his original business in 1972, when Jim was age 13.  By 1984, Jim was working for the Colts.  If anyone in this tale made a cold-blooded, businesslike decision to maximize economic benefits, it was Bob Irsay in moving the team from Baltimore that year when the government was ready to pounce in order to get a sweetheart deal in Indianapolis.  By your logic, wouldn't that have been a good example for Jim? 

However he came to possess whatever knowledge is required to own a team, Jim Irsay was wise enough to hire Bill Polian as soon as Jim inherited lead team ownership, and to hire Chris Ballard after Ryan Grigson.  Two out of three isn't bad.  The franchise today that's making the same type of "over-value running back" error as Grigson-Richardson is the traditionally well run, Archie- and Eli Manning-approved New York Giants.  These matters go in cycles but for the rarest of the stable franchise.

As to the Richardson deal, your point gets more precisely to the ultimate problem with the Colts:  it wasn't so much Grigson and Pagano not being on the same page as Grigson being a poor GM.  That being said, I'm skeptical about single data point assessments of job performance.  And of course you were against the deal in real time Will -- you work for Football Outsiders!  Not everyone is as wise as you and your site, especially in 2013.  At the time, I don't think the majority of industry professionals (even including smart agents like Tom Condon) would have concluded from and at that point alone "there was no doubt that Grigson was an utter incompetent," which is a predicate of your recommended alternative history.  Here's a real time assessment from a source FO quotes on the cover page of its annual guide:


The better argument is that by 2016 or mid-2015, when the Richardson trade had failed and Luck had seen his kidney lacerated, red flags were clear.  But to echo an excellent point made by a later poster, what options did Luck have at the time?  I think there's a paradox working here:  the type of well-run organization to which a Luck should have turned is likely to have a good QB situation already.  (For that matter, had Luck been wary of the Colts at the time he was drafted because Polian was no longer around, what team was next in line to draft him?  The well-owned Washington Controversies, to borrow from the always delightful Mike Tanier.  As of the time of the Luck draft, for the most part, the Colts had been very successful on the field when Jim Irsay was the lead owner.)

As to the fans and player power, look, I'd like things to be different too, but I cannot rule out fan and media opinion having real world consequences.  It takes a special person with strong advisers (such as LeBron James) to be able to damn the torpedoes, try to "force their way out" (and from a location Luck liked per his press conference), and ignore the cr*p (and tangible financial harm to the brand) that follows if they succeed.  Moreover, the knowledge of likelihood of success is a big if...no matter a player's perceived market power, he can't know how his playing livelihood will turn out if he tries to "force his way out" until it turns out.  This in turn influences the calculus as to whether to make the attempt.

Come to think of it, the alternative win path would have been for Luck and his advisers to lobby Irsay to fire Grigson (and perhaps Pagano).  That's the ultimate risky path involving the stealthiest of stealth.  Whether by design or not (more likely not), Eli Manning achieved that, didn't he?



46 First, I don't work for…

First, I don't work for Football Outsiders, but if Aaron wants to send me a check, I will cash it.

Second, I really don't want to debate the nature of Robert Irsay's behavior. If you wish to think that it is not very likely that The Ventilating and Air Conditioning Contractor's Association of Northern Illinois engaged in bid rigging for many years, or that Irsay, who was the VP and on the Executive Board for years, was uninvolved, go right ahead.

If you wish to believe that it took any above average wisdom to hire Polian after he left Buffalo, fine. I disagree. I think it is professional malpractice to not fire a GM who looks at the film of Trent Richardson's 1st 16 NFL games, and decides to trade a 1st round draft pick for him, much as I would a surgeon who mistook a kidney for a lung. As to any analogy between Barkley and Richardson, I really don't what to say, other than I think it very inapt.

It's ok if we disagree. I simply think it extraordinarily unwise to make decisions, with hundreds of millions at risk over the next couple decades, with an eye towards what ignorant people will be talking about in 6 or 12 months, when the reality is that the best guarantee of financial performace is partnering with people who are most likely to help the team you play for to win games. I think it was knowable, certainly no later than 2013, that those people weren't associated with the Colts, and I think someone who was coveted like Luck was had the leverage to form new partnerships.Why do I think this? Because I've seen players do it.

I agree that pushing Irsay to fire Griggs and Pagano would have been worthy of the effort. 


51 much as I would a surgeon…

much as I would a surgeon who mistook a kidney for a lung.

+1 for that comparison.

I've been agreeing with you and appreciating your style of arguing for years on this site in all areas but this one, because no matter how well you support it, you're still taking a pretty unusual position to an extreme that is colored by an anti-Irsay bias.

Now, I respect that yes, you have been saying this for years, and I respect the nature of being in favor of a QB making a power play like that, but your entire argument is based on the notion that they should have wanted to avoid the Colts and forseen that it was some horrible organization with a horrible owner... which is something with which not one single person in the league, past or present, would agree. People love Jim Irsay. The players do. The front office does. Even those he has let go - without any exception at all spanning decades now, including three of a certain Irish family known for being immature, complaining, back-stabbing, and never ever admitting to being wrong - speak positively about him. Yes, he inherited it all. Yes, he's a nut job. But he took over from an asshole and made the Colts into a place where people DO want to be. The entire Luck family included. And that's where I believe you're off base. You don't have to give Jim too much credit for this; while "don't be an asshole" is something more people should follow as a life rule, it's also not a huge stretch or novel approach. And yes, Bill Polian and Peyton Manning should get a whole bunch of credit for making Indianapolis an attractive destination for players... but with the exception of the back half of the Grigson years, the post-Bob Irsay Colts WERE a place that players - including those managed by the ultra-shrewd Tom Condon - wanted to play. 

The position that "Luck should have leveraged his way out of a trainwreck organization" sort of falls apart if it's not actually viewed as a trainwreck organization by anyone but you. But OK, let's assume that a large population of fans and players and employees agree with you... people still visit that building and come out of there wanting to work for the man. Say what you will about his overall business acumen; that's a trait of a good manager.

Now, the idea that a transcendent talent should partner with an agent such as Condon and dictate his own terms, workplace, and even market (to the extent possible) is only controversial because it's so uncommon. Luck certainly could have. But you could also say the same thing of all the top talent except for Brady (who, of course, already benefits from being part of the absolute best organization). Aaron Rodgers plays in a tiny market for management that also completely failed him and wasted his talent for a half decade or so. You could find a lot of dirt on the Hunt family too if you were so inclined. Other than one or two organizations that are head and shoulders above the rest, though, how could any player/agent point to one with any certainty that "that is the best possible place for me to go?"

There are too many variables. And in Luck's case especially, milking every last dime out of his talent was never even on his priority list anyway. (It sure was for Peyton/Condon... who we should again note loved being in Indianapolis.) Hell, if it was, he could've just let them IR him this year. And OK, if it was, then Indianapolis gets excluded with or without the Irsays, and New York and LA are the best destination even if they're run by the likes of Kroenke a Spanos (or Dave Gettleman). Your position is mathematically correct, but that would still be true without any of the examples that you cite. Very few players are willing to be as cutthroat as businesspeople as some owners. (Should more be? Yes.) If the Colts were such a terrible organization, more players would be inclined to be. They'd be thrilled to get out. Only one - a punter, and attributable entirely to Grigson - has been. 

So I guess that's it. Nobody is going to argue with you about Grigson and Pagano. That statement includes me, and I was involved in the process that got Grigson hired in the first place. (On the "pro" side, before you ask. I know we've had some long threads discussing his decisions... He lost me on the basis of the Richardson trade alone too, though.)  But the cyclical nature of every non-New England organization has already been pointed out by other commenters. In fact, after the Pats, the next tier of organizations noted for their long-term stability of success includes... Indianapolis.

Sorry, this is not my most cogent of posts. No coffee yet, I guess. I just think you've taken your position to an extreme that wasn't ever wholly accurate back then... and obviously isn't really relevant or necessary now. 

In any event, I'm sad. Andrew Luck was a freakish talent and incredibly fun to watch. He alone made that team interesting regardless of the team around him, just as the guy before him did. That's incredibly rare. And it really sucks that now we won't get to watch that anymore.

57 Well, I want to be clear,…

Well, I want to be clear, Jim Irsay appears to me to be a relatively nice guy without much business expertise, certainly not the malevolent criminal his father very likely was. My point in raising his father's history was that unlike some heriditary ownership situations, like the Mara's, or (and God forgive me for saying something positive about the Dallas ownership) even the upcoming Jones ownership, there isn't much reason to think Jim Irsay had many positive lessons learned from being around his father growing up. Jerry Jones, despite his visible failings, is simply a first rate marketing guy with a powerful grasp of finance, and a future NFL owner actually can learn a lot from him. Yes, Jim Irsay is loved. Generous, pleasant,  billionaires tend to be loved, despite their lack of business acumen and self destructive addictions. That still doesn't mean he's the preferred partner for a 22 year old with a business plan to make three or four hundred million dollars before the age of 40. And people blessed with Andrew Luck like talent need to have a business plan, beyond "Hey, the doofus billionaire who drafted me is a nice guy that everybody loves, and it all worked out for the last great qb who was drafted by the doofus billionaire, so let's just let it ride, ignoring whatever unpleasant evidence which arrives on our doorstep for the next 5 or 6 years!"

Again, my point early on in this thread is that highly coveted young qbs in this league (and, really, other great players, too) ought to start acting more like young NBA superstars, even factoring how much more favorable the NBA CBA is to great players, compared to the NFL CBA. Hell, this disparity is not new, and restricted to the current era of free agency. 45 years ago, Kareem Abdul Jabbar forced his way to the Lakers, because he knew playing his career out in Milwaukee was suboptimal. 5 or 6 years later, a 20 year old Magic Johnson informed Lakers management that he was going to participate in management decisions, and, to his credit, Jerry Buss chose to listen. 

NFL players, especially the great qbs, ought to take more responsibility for their businesses, especially given how the risk of debilitating injury skyrockets on poorly managed rosters.


69 Fair response, to which I…

Fair response, to which I guess I'd just say: not everyone thinks the way CEOs and Tom Condon think. In fact, thinking that way is quite rare (for better and for worse). Andrew Luck is perhaps the greatest example of this, given that he just walked away from what likely would have been another $300 million, regardless of what owner/business partner he chose. If that much money wasn't a motivating force for him, the ten or twenty (or hundreds) more he could've made in another market sure wasn't going to be either.

You're right that players like that should use their leverage more, even if the main reason for that isn't so much to milk every last cent as it is to simply keep the owners honest and from exploiting the rest of the population (same argument for Peyton taking top of market stuff because it helps the union... which was always a funny talking point to me given how notoriously conservative he and the family are). And from the perspective of milking every possible cent from one's talent, you're also right... I'll defend Irsay but I won't disagree that someone like Jerry Jones or anyone in a much larger market wouldn't be a better partner for the long haul in terms of dollars; but I also don't find fault with Luck not wanting to be that guy. He just wanted to play football and have fun. Winning is fun. Making money is fun. And maybe the marginal value of playing in LA or NY isn't even worth it to him. Either way, I don't believe for a second that he was unhappy with the organization or the city he was in, and I won't hold it against him that he didn't choose that billionaire mindset of profit over all else. 

Hell, half of what you cite as reasons why certain owners - Bob Irsay among them - are awful are the same traits necessary for a player to take such an aggressive approach to his own career, and likewise some of the same things for which you discredit Jim Irsay - hiring the right man to run the organization (Polian) - are the the same things the accepted best organization/owner (Kraft/NE) did to get there (Belichick). Granted, at least Kraft made his own money, but are we really going to praise him for hiring BB while at the same time dismissing the Polian hire as a no-brainer stroke of luck when it was Irsay that did it? That's not entirely fair, and it's just as easy to attribute most of Kraft's influence, power, narrative, and organizational success to Belichick as it is to credit the decade-plus of sustained excellence in Indianapolis only to Polian and then Manning.

There is one point on which I will agree wholeheartedly without even a hint of devil's advocate-style argument: the best players SHOULD take more of a role in the way things are run. Manning had as much power in a building as any player I've ever seen or heard of. (Condon too; Bill Polian, for all his arrogance, was afraid of Tom Condon, and it was really quite odd to see. He got completely run over and bullied in 2011 in that contract negotiation... although not nearly as badly as John Elway's supposed "shark" negotiator a year later after he fired a perfectly good man in Mike Bluem.)  That said, the number of players to whom that avenue is available is still pretty small. And even with us agreeing that Luck is the type of rare player to whom that applies... he wasn't ever really going to be the guy to take that stand.

Rodgers is the one that should have. But look at how that has all played out in Green Bay with the Lafleur hiring. They made a point of keeping him in the dark, even when the right approach would've been putting him in the room for the interviews. (And imagine the things that would've been printed if it got out that he had been in that room!)

Of course, Rodgers has made plenty of his own missteps and is deserving of (some of) the criticism he takes for his behavior. He's not nearly as politically savvy as the Mannings, and to a certain extent I like him more for that. But this is all another conversation for another day. 

96 One thing I think that gets…

One thing I think that gets lost in this is NFL cap situations are much much more complicated than NBA ones. a while ago Zach Lowe mention that the Lakers would have gotten LeBron no matter what happened, that the contracts are  Indian movable no matter what. 


This is where I think the Andrew luck LeBron James comparison become strained. Let's say luck forced his way out, where the heck is he going? The teams with the cap space to sign him outright is limited and likely includes teams with no quarterback option on the roster. That's a pretty limited group and I'm not sure those rosters and that ownership and front offices are offering much more than the colts are. 


I will also say is a colts fan I don't dislike Jim irsay. He actually tries and will happily spend money if it means attracting top talent. This isn't Jimmy haslam or Mr Brown of the bengals or Dan Schneider or Jerry Jones. 

112 Yeah, that's the other…

Yeah, that's the other answer I used to default to. The man's a kook, but it's not like he's a meddling idiot or cheapskate. He hired Polian and GTFO of the way and signed every check he was asked to. It's not like he personally ever did anything to mess with the product on the field (at least, as the owner... we shouldn't forget that as part of "working his way up the ladder" he was in fact once the GM of the team).

Good point about the cap and all that. It's funny, because while I'll "argue" against Will's stance that Luck should've forced his way out, back then I made a similar claim about RGIII as the #2 pick. It wasn't a cap thing, of course, but a pick issue... I was of the (not quite as strong as Will, but still strong) opinion that RGIII should have advertised an unwillingness to sign with Washington after they made that trade (IIRC it happened well in advance of the draft, with plenty of time to give interviews, etc) based on two factors: 1) Dan Snyder/Bruce Allen 2) they just gave up a ton of capital to acquire him, and thus would be handicapped in their ability to put a capable team around him.

I'm not even going to pretend to gloat about being right about those things though, because we could've all seen that one coming.

44 And a final kudo (and note)

Just to be clear Will, I respect your work, your post, and this site (as can told from my praise for you figuring out Grigson-Richardson).  Indeed, right now, I am updating my draft board for tomorrow's league draft (our first auction) to reflect today's KUBIAK changes.  I won the league two years ago thanks to your numbers and guide, and snagged Patrick "Unicorn Puppy Rainbows" Mahomes last year on the cheap based on your endorsement.

Still, I stand by my original point, which I neglected to mention in the reply:  the Lucks chose their path.  What I forgot to reiterate is that there was no need for Luck to be clever or hire a clever agent or take extraordinary steps to leverage Andrew's future.  At the end of the 2016 season, Andrew Luck was scheduled to be a free agent.  (I can't tell now whether he would have been an unrestricted FA, but he would have been a FA.) He could have signed with any team.  Luck chose, instead, to sign a pretty good contract extension and stay with the Colts.  He may have been right or he may have been wrong (he certainly collected lots o' money), but that was his assessment.  And then, according to his press conference, Luck soon made another decision:  Plan B.  After the 2016 season, he decided to stay the course with the Colts, but vowed that he would not play in pain again.  With that plan, he sat out 2017 (with no controversy as far as I can tell), played in 2018, and implemented Plan B when its conditions were triggered in 2019.

56 A couple of notes here on…

A couple of notes here on this dialogue; First, in retrospect it was definitely a bad career decision for Luck not to immediately hold out after being drafted by the colts. The draft is deeply unfair to players, and top QB's dramatically underestimate there leverage at a point in their contract where they have massive trade value. I suspect IND could have gotten a couple of 1sts for him - there's no way they go more than one season without making a trade like that. However, if players were competent to assess the future performance of an organization they would go on to become billionaire investors after they retired early with some capital - that's something that literally never happens. As someone who works in the investment industry I can tell you that the list of people who can successfully predict the future effectiveness of the management of an organization is infinitesimal - so I can't see how you would expect Luck & camp to foresee the amount of money not forcing the Colts hand would ultimately cost him.

The career move that is indefensible is signing the second contract in 2016; by that time it's clear to anyone that the colts are years away from a management team that will minimize your injury risk and maximize your return in terms of both football success and the associated opportunity for life-long earnings/opportunities. That contract looks to me like Luck & co. were just blinded by the up-front money and failed to have reasonable foresight as to the associated consequences. That's a shame for Luck, and a shame for football generally. 

With respect to the broader question about players using there leverage to get in a good situation despite the draft I am of two minds. First, players should absolutely do it. The draft is an egregious restraint of trade that they never had a voice in as new entrants to the CBA, they should feel no ethical call to honor it's provisions if they have sufficient leverage to further there career. I think this is especially true for mid-tier players that will likely never get another contract if the team that drafted them damages there hopes at a successful career (e.g. how much money did it cost Cordarrelle Patterson to get drafted by the Vikings instead of an organization that had a more innovative plan to maximize him). On the other hand, I think it's likely almost as many players would fight there way into worse situations than they were dealt by the draft, moral agency without situational improvement is good but it's not transformational.

31 So which team?

So what team do you think Luck should have forced himself on to?  Eli had the advantage of a reasonably competent, large market team sitting at #2 that year, so he only had to make a stink about playing for the chargers. 

Other than the Colts (who were coming off a long run of success but for the “suck for Luck” year), you had a Rams team that was a complete mess, a dysfunctional Redskins team willing to trade up and wreck a QB career, and rounding out the top five were the Browns (enough said), the Jags (ditto), and the Vikings. Do you think Luck could have made enough of a stink to get himself to fall all the way to the Vikings at 4, and scare off other trade suitors?

33 He should've tried to get to…

In reply to by MJK

He should've tried to get to another team once he'd spend a few years on the Colts and saw they were poorly run. He could ask for a trade or wait for free agency. Of course, I think many players would not be willing to do that. It would be controversial and could lead to your own fans despising you, which could be psychologically challenging if nothing else.

34 Will will answer this…

In reply to by MJK

Will will answer this himself, but I know he advocated for a holdout before he agreed to his 2nd (?) contract and force the team to trade him. I really don't know whether that would have been best for him or not. The Colts would hardly have let him go easy, using the franchise tag to drag the process on. Like others are suggesting, I think the time to throw your weight and try to have and say on who you play for is before being drafted. Once you're in, the rules make it pretty darn hard.

Anyway, sorry, Colts fans, this sucks really bad for you.

82 While I agree with this statement

it should be pointed out that the NFL will never go the way of the NBA in terms of how much control a player can get over a team or the league.  There are less players involved in a basketball game, and a star player stays on the field for most of a game.  Even Tom Brady has to sit on the bench while the Patriots' defense is on the field. Even then, when he is on the field he is only one of 22 players. 

Elway's  and Eli's strategic ploys are rare for a reason; other players have tried them and lost.  LeVeon Bell lost money with his stunt last year; we'll see how he feels when the Jets are home for the playoffs.  Antonio Brown already seems to hate the Raiders.  Elway's refusal to play for the Colts worked out because he could threaten to go to the USFL or the Yankees.  On the other hand, the Chargers made out like bandits in the Eli trade; they got their own Hall of Fame caliber quarterback, who's still better than Eli now, and a pro bowl pass rusher for three years.  Drafting a kicker in the third round was stupid though.  Was Eli better off going to New York; yes, because the Giants had solid ownership.  But losing  first, third and a fifth round picks still hurt the team he went to, and to be honest, Eli only has those two Super Bowl rings due to lucky playoff runs.  

89  Agree with most of this,…

 Agree with most of this, but there wasn't anything unusually lucky about the last two Giants championships. In 'O7 their talented defensive front got healthy in December and opened a can into February; 6 or 7 weeks of dominant defensive front performance is not all that unusual. For the 2nd one, Eli, always a streaky player, got hot. Pretty much the normal good fortune of a champion.

Yeah NBA superstars will always have more leverage, especially compared to running backs, but I think the qbs can get in the neighborhood.

100 Giants were a solid but not great team in 07

but the 2011 team  gave up more points than they scored during the regular season.  They are the only team to do that and win a Super Bowl.  I'm not even sure you can say Eli got hot; he played well against the Cowboys to win the division, and the next two weeks the offense did well, but the wins against the Niners and the Pats were based on the other teams' bad luck: the Niners special teams fumbles and the Patriots losing Gronk in the AFC championship game.  The main thing I remember about that Giants team is the turd of a game Eli put up against the Jets the next to last week of the season, and the glorified screen pass that Victor Cruz turned into a 99 yard touchdown after two broken tackles.  On a play that Darrelle Revis sat out for some reason.  So yeah, I harbor a lot of resentment towards those Giant teams.  At least the Pats deserved their championships.