NFL

Why Andrew Luck’s Lost 2017 Season was a Blessing in Disguise

Andrew Luck's 2017 injury helped the Colts' quarterback realize he needed strike a work-life balance.

As he enters his 30s, it’s easy to forget that Andrew Luck is no longer the face of young quarterbacks, but a star quarterback who is entering his prime. However, as he enters his seventh season as quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts in eight years, there is still a question as to what his ceiling is. Injuries and recovery briefly derailed his career, and as he regains his health, Luck has reflected on his career. 

Coming into the NFL

Coming into the NFL, Andrew Luck had lofty expectations. He was, after all, the young quarterback who caused the Indianapolis Colts to part with legendary quarterback Peyton Manning. With those kinds of shoes to fill, Luck was in an unenviable position of having two layers of pressure before he ever played in an NFL game. 

Everything worked out during his first three seasons with the Colts. The team posted 11-5 records in every one of those seasons. That third year was a breakout year for Luck. After throwing 23 touchdowns in each of his first two seasons, he erupted with 40 touchdowns against 16 interceptions on 4,761 throwing yards. The questions were no longer about if Luck could become a star, but how big of a star he would become. 

Pitfalls along the way

Luck’s 2015 season was marred by injuries that never allowed for him to gain any consistency or conditioning, and after a relatively healthy, yet underwhelming 2016 season, Luck had surgery on his shoulder that would cause him to miss the entire 2017 season. Although he had shown much promise, some were beginning to worry about his health. 

It is at times like this where some players may be tempted to just give up, take their NFL money, and move on. For Andrew Luck, however, the missed year may have led to some positivity. 

“A blessing in disguise” for Andrew Luck

Andrew Luck's 2017 injury helped the Colts quarterback build a better relationship with his wife, Nicole Pechanec (left).
Andrew Luck’s 2017 injury helped him build a better relationship with his wife, Nicole Pechanec (left).| Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

Luck recently sat down to talk about his career with Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated. In this interview, he reflected on that missed year and how it would affect him going forward. Luck wasn’t down about the lost year, but instead hopeful about what it helped him find both in his game and his mind. 

“I’ll say it right now—I think it was a blessing in disguise,” Luck told Breer. “Absolutely. It forced me to reevaluate many, many things in my life. And the result has been … yeah, really positive. And I shudder to think of not having that. I don’t think I’m married if that had not happened. I think I eff that up.”

Many fans are wired to expect the worst when injuries plague even the greatest players, and many tend to put happiness and worth solely on their on-field success. To combat that mindset, Luck credited his wife and family with helping keep him grounded and focusing on what was important off the field. He realized that his self-worth was directly connected with his play before they helped. 

“In an odd way, that helped football,” Luck told Breer. “It helped me work harder, work smarter, be more present at football, be in it.”

Results after the lost season

In 2018, Andrew Luck had his best year since his 40-touchdown season. He threw for 39 touchdowns against 15 interceptions and 4,593. He also finished the year with the best quarterback rating of his career and led the Colts back to the playoffs for the first time in four years. Although a calf injury has marred his preseason, he is hopeful that he can return to the field by week 1. 

Time will tell if Luck will reach the heights that were set on him at an early age, but his story is a testament to the importance of remembering that athletes have a life outside of sports, and sometimes what happens there can help what happens on the field.