Elite quarterback play in today’s NFL landscape usually lends itself to exorbitant spoils and a glamour lifestyle.
But don’t tell that to Indianapolis quarterback Andrew Luck, who as one of the game’s brightest and most-skilled superstars still famously sports a flip phone, completely shuns social media and, on his free time, reads “Lawrence in Arabia,” a bio of T.E. Lawrence. He’s a high achiever on the field, and low-key off of it – which is exactly how he prefers it.
“It’s just part of my personality,” the 25-year-old said in a recent phone interview. “I don’t force it.”
In his first three seasons, Luck has amassed 33 victories, three Pro Bowl honors, three AFC South division titles and three playoff victories. If the aphorism “good things come in threes” holds true, his luck of the draw in 2015 should show in spades.
His supreme skill set has become the envy of his peers. He’s equipped with every intangible – skill, presence, leadership and clutch ability – teams look for in the prototypical franchise quarterback. His transition into the pros has looked effortless since Indy selected him as the No. 1 overall draft pick in 2012.
“Winning definitely is not easy in the NFL,” he said. “I’ve been fortunate to win some games and make it into the playoffs, and hopefully, we’ll continue with that theme.”
Indy doubled down this offseason to retool its offense by supplying its architect a litany of new playmakers to supplant the AFC powers in Denver, Pittsburgh and, his kryptonite to date, New England (0-4 in his career). The team’s new influx of personnel – they arguably have the deepest receiving corps – has the potential to be the league’s premier offense if it fires on all cylinders.
“It’s nice when you earn the respect of your opponents and your teammates,” he said. “I guess a better start would have been to win three Super Bowls, but that’s obviously not the case. … We’ll keep working until we get one, and keep rolling.”
This offseason, the Stanford alum returned to his alma mater looking for any edge he could find. He tested a new virtual reality software program, STRIVR, that gave him a 180-degree view of what only the quarterback can see before and after the snap. Luck is specifically looking to improve red zone and third down efficiency in Year 4.
“There’s a good history of Stanford football players going back,” he said. “Even when I was a freshman, NFL guys would always come back, and we’d hang out and ask questions. Guys try to do that as much as possible. It’s fun to be on a college campus.”
So how was the architectural design graduate received in Palo Alto?
“With a shrug of the shoulders,” a self-deprecating Luck responded before breaking into laughter.
Luck’s unique persona and aura – he praises opposing players after they deliver punishing hits, much to their puzzlement – made him the perfect pitchman for DirecTV, who signed the quarterback for an endorsement deal earlier this year.
“It’s a fascinating experience,” Luck said of his foray into acting. “I don’t know if you can prepare for it necessarily.”
One of Luck’s TV spots features the quarterback draped in an ugly sweater playing hide-and-seek with his cats on a Sunday afternoon devoid of football. It’s the kind of scene that’d likely unfold minutes before the apocalypse – and it’s exactly the endearingly awkward brand of humor that’s made the company’s commercials must-see in recent years.
Luck’s other alter-ego is further examined through the mystique of his sea captain-like beard – which is discussed in the blogosphere just as often of his highlight-reel plays. In one spot, Luck must carry a laptop behind his three-foot long beard during games because, as a cable subscriber, he doesn’t have DirecTV’s Fantasy Zone Channel.
The satellite-TV provider drafted Luck – who, for the record, doesn’t have cats – and “arts and craftsy” Tony Romo earlier this year to pitch NFL Sunday Ticket, its exclusive programming package that offers all out-of-market Sunday afternoon football games. Also new to the company lineup is NFLSundayTicket.TV U – a streaming version of their NFL Sunday Ticket package for college students for a student-only price.
“I’m not a very good actor. I’m a good professional football player,” Luck continued. “I make sure not to forget that.”
As Luck’s off-field star continues to rise, he certainly hasn’t ignored his full-time job. Last year Luck led the league with 40 passing touchdowns, and added three more rushing with his sneaky-fast legs. He’ll be in the running for the NFL MVP award this season.
He recently admitted he didn’t intend to watch Super Bowl XLIX because “there’s a big part of you that’s still salty [thinking], ‘Why can’t we be there? Wish we could have taken care of business. But that’s sports.” He ended up catching glimpses of the game at a restaurant with his girlfriend, a former Stanford gymnastics team captain.
Luck looked sharp in three preseason games, finishing 22-of-36 for 275 yards and a touchdown. But for an offense that’s still rough around the edges, there’s work to do.
Unflappable and always composed, he doesn’t outright predict it, but he knows what’s at stake this year: winning a Super Bowl.
“Externally, maybe there is different chatter, but it’s been the same ever since I was a rookie: It’s come in, do your job as best as you can, try and make it to the playoffs and give yourself a chance to win a Super Bowl. It hasn’t changed.”
Like Manning did before him in Indianapolis, Luck will have to overcome the playoff pitfalls before he’s officially coronated.
--Tribune Content Solutions for DIRECTV