Finally and as expected, Peyton Manning got cut last Wednesday.
And the Colts are officially on the clock.
With Manning gone, the Colts will most likely select Andrew Luck with the #1 overall pick. So, what does this heartbreaking decision means to the Stanford QB? Most importantly, what happens if Peyton starts looking like the usual laser-rocket arm QB wearing another jersey?
Without any doubt, the pressure on Luck will be tremendous, especially because of the context.
In Peyton’s rookie year the expectation from the fans wasn’t as high as it is now. Football wasn’t as important to Indy as it is now. In 1998, the Colts history in Indianapolis was close to embarrassing.
Today, for better or worse, we’ve turned into a spoiled fan base. We’re used to seeing the team win and get into the playoffs year after year. We’re used to having an explosive offense and a QB who can pull unbelievable comebacks.
Manning has become arguably the greatest QB of all time, the face of the franchise, the face of an entire city and the architect of Lucas Oil Stadium. Filling the shoes of a guy like him is literally impossible.
Now, add this emotional break-up and the pressure on both the front office and the rookie QB will be ridiculous. After all, Luck has been advertised as the best prospect since Manning himself. He is a ‘safe bet’ for the next 15 years.
With Luck being the #1 pick and the best prospect since Manning himself, the expectation will be incredibly and stupidly high. Results will be demanded immediately.
If Luck doesn’t win games right away and Peyton starts playing to his usual level, it will create a very awkward and dangerous atmosphere in Indianapolis. Any mistake by Luck – and there will be a LOT of mistakes during his rookie season – will create more and more pressure from the media and from a heartbroken fan base. Besides pressure, there will be some unfair resentment. Worst of all, we will hear about dumb comparisons and “what ifs” over and over throughout the year.
Even the toughest QBs would struggle in such scenario. It’s way too much to ask for a rookie QB. Luck is only guilty of having a fantastic college career.
If Manning plays at a high-level, it will be a very long year for Andrew Luck and the Colts front office, one that could define his career in the NFL and the future of the franchise for the rest of the decade.