In the immediate aftermath of Saturday night’s stunning news that Colts quarterback Andrew Luck had retired from football, mixed messages emerged regarding when the team knew it could happen. Rumors flew that they knew since March; the team privately insisted that they found out only this week.
Looking back at the information that emerged in the aftermath of the announcement, there’s reason to believe that the team had known, at least for a little while.
Asked whether he tried to talk Luck out of retiring, Irsay provided an explanation that strongly hints at this not being a bolt from the blue.
“I again tried to be the best sounding board I could for him,” Irsay told reporters. “As a father of children that are older than him, you know, life has its spiritual journey, people. I mean this is, you know, this stuff is kind of a ‘bigger than all of us’ sort of issue. And I would never try to talk someone out of something that their heart truly wasn’t into. And so I was there to aboslutely support him and counsel him. Big decisions, you hold off on it. As long as you can, hold off on them. And then when you have to make them, then you make them.” (Emphasis added.)
This clearly implies that Irsay initially told Luck to take some time. Which also implies that it didn’t first come up on a Monday, with a final decision made five days later.
Indeed, Irsay’s explanation meshes with the idea that Irsay, at a minimum, knew that Luck was wrestling with a decision that didn’t absolutely, positively have to be made until the team commenced full and final preparations for the regular-season opener.
Likewise, consider these August 14 quotes from coach Frank Reich, which were made when everyone believed that Luck’s calf/bone/high-ankle issue were the impediment and not angst regarding whether to continue to play at all: “By the end of the third preseason game, you have to know something. You have to be able to make a call and move from there in whether we’re full speed with Andrew after that third preseason game or if at that point we’re going with Jacoby. We’ll make that decision with that when the time comes.”
Maybe that’s when the Colts wanted Luck to provide his final decision. Regardless, that’s when he did.
Even if the Colts didn’t know before this week, former Colts assistant coach Clyde Christensen had an inkling.
“I stay in touch with him and kind of knew that he was contemplating it,” Christensen told Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times.
If Christensen knew, others knew. And someone with the Colts surely knew.
But why make it known until Luck makes a final decision? In hindsight, it’s amazing no one blabbed while Luck was simply trying to make a decision. Regardless, it sure seems like this one was percolating for a while. The question will now be, for the next four or five years perhaps, whether a decision to return is percolating.