The untold truth of Andrew Luck

Judging from his stellar seasons at Stanford University, it was almost a foregone conclusion that Andrew Luck would develop into one of the NFL's marquee quarterbacks of the 21st century. But he didn't need to evolve his game all that much—Luck immediately showed the Indianapolis Colts that using its #1 draft pick on him was a good decision. As the team's rookie starting quarterback in the 2012 season, he threw for more than 4,300 yards (including an astounding 433 in a single game) and 23 touchdowns. Two years later, he did even better—his 4,761 passing yards is an all-time Colts single-season record, and his 40 touchdowns led the league. 

Over the next few seasons, Luck would experience a number of injuries that kept him off the field for long stretches of time, leading to his retirement in 2019 after a six-season NFL career. The man has a big life outside of football, however, and so here's a look into the world of Andrew Luck.

Andrew Luck's many life parallels with Peyton Manning

When the Indianapolis Colts landed the #1 pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, the team also won the Andrew Luck sweepstakes. The accomplished Stanford quarterback was projected to go high in the draft, and the Colts really needed a stellar quarterback to make up for the absence of outgoing franchise guy Peyton Manning, who'd moved over to the Denver Broncos during the offseason. "You don't really replace a guy like that," Luck said after he was drafted. "You just try to do the best you can. Obviously, he was my hero growing up." Those are just two examples of the eerily intersecting lives of the Luck and Manning families.

Manning is the son of Archie Manning, a two-time Pro Bowl selection who played for the New Orleans Saints, Minnesota Vikings, and Houston Oilers in the '70s and '80s. One of his teammates in Houston in 1982 and 1983: Oliver Luck, with whom Manning competed for the starting quarterback position. In 2011, second-generation quarterback Andrew Luck narrowly came in second in the voting for the prize given to the nation's top collegiate quarterback: the Manning Award, named after Archie Manning, as well as his sons Peyton and Eli Manning.

This Stanford man could build himself a stadium

While college athletes can't be paid anything in exchange for their sports services, recruiters have to promise other things to high school football stars trying to plan their next move. In addition to in-home visits and showing off both campus and team culture, college program coaches just may offer a scholarship, either full or partial, in order to secure their stars. That creates a situation where numerous football players who maybe aren't the best students wind up attending some of the best colleges in the country, for free. 

Quarterback Andrew Luck, out of Stratford High School in Houston, Texas, fielded offers from major programs, including Oklahoma State, Northwestern, Purdue, and Rice, only to sign with Stanford University under coach Jim Harbaugh, who secured Luck an athletic scholarship. Getting to attend an outstanding private university for free is a good deal and a great achievement, but it's something Luck might have managed even if he weren't a football player. He was his high school valedictorian, and this smarty pants utilized his education, choosing not some cakewalk major, but architectural design. After considering leaving college to go pro early, Luck stayed all four years at Stanford and graduated with his degree in 2012.

Andrew Luck really loves books

So Andrew Luck was a high school valedictorian who graduated with a degree in architectural design from prestigious Stanford University—two accomplishments that are virtually impossible without hitting the books the way linemen try to hit Andrew Luck, which is to say, hard. The quarterback not only knows his way around the library, but he also genuinely likes to read. Luck is such an avid bookworm that the Wall Street Journal published a feature on his reading habits and bestowed upon him the title of the "NFL's unofficial librarian," reflecting his eagerness to recommend books to other players. (One of his favorite books of all time: Henri Charriére's allegedly autobiographical prison novel Papillon.)

In a 2015 interview with NBC Sports' "Men in Blazers," (in which Luck highly recommended The Boys in the Boat, Daniel James Brown's story of the 1936 U.S. Olympic rowing team), hosts Roger Bennett and Michael Davies casually suggested that Luck start some kind of book club. He took the idea and ran with it, creating The Andrew Luck Book Club, which aims "to build a team of readers of all levels" through bimonthly reading recommendations and hosting group discussions.

Andrew Luck's on-the-field chatter is the sweetest thing ever

Andrew Luck's persona is that of a humble, nice, and friendly guy. Well, a lot of other NFL superstars give the same impression because they've got the full weight of the league's public relations and marketing teams carefully crafting that oh-so-likable image. But Luck probably is a good guy, if his on-field behavior is any example. While other players playfully insult or "trash talk" opponents to gain at least a mental advantage during a football game, that's not Andrew Luck's style. Microphones caught the quarterback issuing emphatic compliments to other players … namely the defensive linemen from the other team whose job it is to knock him down as hard as they can. Among Luck's remarks: "Nice hit, big man," "Good hit, big boy," and "Nice hit, buddy!"

Players found the concept baffling and disarming. "In all the years I've played football I have never heard anything like it," linebacker Ryan Kerrigan told the Washington Post regarding the kind words he received from Luck after he pummeled the guy. "As he was getting up, he was like, 'Man, who was that? Was that you, Kerrigan? Good hit, man.'"

Andrew Luck could've bought a ton of robots

Mere weeks after the Indianapolis Colts selected Andrew Luck with the #1 pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, the team signed the player to a four-year deal worth $22.1 million. After proving himself to be the real deal, skills-wise, Luck signed a contract extension that would keep him with the Indianapolis Colts for six additional seasons … with a total salary in the $140 million range. Signing on that dotted line made lucky Luck the highest-paid player in the NFL. That's obviously a ton of money for anyone, even an NFL superstar, but it might just havet been more cash than Luck could use. 

"I talked to Andrew Luck a little before he got his big extension and I asked him what he was gonna buy," Kevin Clark of The Ringer tweeted in January 2019. Luck "struggled to think of anything" before mentioning that he'd like a "robot ping-pong machine," which is a small robot that sits on the edge of a table tennis table and plays one-on-one with a human. (So no multi-million-dollar mansions or $200,000 sports cars for Luck, only a $1,000 toy robot.)

Andrew Luck doesn't much care for the newfangled gadgets

Andrew Luck's personal motto in regards to consumer goods just might very well be, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." You're probably aware that cellular telephones went mainstream in the 1990s, but caused a worldwide technological revolution after the introduction of Apple's computer-like iPhone in 2007, ushering in the age of the smartphone. Luck doesn't seem to be interested. 

In 2013, Matt Hasselbeck joined the Indianapolis Colts as Luck's backup, and tweeted out a couple of pictures of the starting QB's phone: A heavily used, thoroughly scratched, AT&T branded Samsung flip phone, akin to a super-cheap "burner" that can be acquired at any convenience or drug store. Three years later, Luck confirmed that he was still carrying that technological relic. "The phone is still around," he told USA Today. "I like it. It's a comfort thing." While he apparently used an iPad for some tasks more advanced than talking and texting, AT&T just couldn't take it anymore. A couple weeks after his 2016 flip phone admission, AT&T sent Luck a new one.

Lots of Luck for the cast of "Parks and Recreation"

The 2013 Parks and Recreation episode "Two Parties" concerns the pre-wedding bachelor and bachelorette parties for the engaged Ben Wyatt (Adam Scott) and Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler). Ben's friends suddenly realize that none of them had ever experienced a proper bachelor party, and they set out to have an epic night with a little something for everyone. As Chris Traeger is the city manager of the show's central location of Pawnee, Indiana, he has some connections, and arranges for the guys to visit Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis and toss a football around on the field … with Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay and star players Reggie Wayne and Andrew Luck. While the event fulfilled a dream for Andy Dwyer (Chris Pratt), Andrew Luck apparently also had a spectacular time. 

"We were told we had maybe an hour with the players," Parks and Recreation co-creator Michael Schur tweeted about the episode in 2019. "Then Andrew Luck showed up, and he was an absolute delight. Warm, funny, generous. He threw TD passes to anyone who wanted one, just to make us happy." Schur explained that Luck taught proper ball-gripping technique to Pratt and "made fifty fans that day," referring to the assembled Parks cast and crew. For his part, Luck said he agreed to shoot the episode because, "My younger siblings think it's cool. I gotta look cool to them somehow."

How Andrew Luck met his kid's mother

Andrew Luck has only ever been publicly romantically linked with one person: Nicole Pechanec. The couple, who tied the knot in March 2019, have a lot in common. They're the same age and they met at Stanford, where both graduated in 2012 after studying architectural design at the university's School of Engineering.

And while two-time Heisman Trophy finalist Luck's 82 touchdowns led Stanford to back-to-back bowl games, Pechanac was also a dominant student athlete, captaining the school's gymnastics team. In both 2010 and 2012, the squad competed in the national finals and finished fourth. She also competed for the Czech Republic on the world level. Just as Luck's father, Oliver, spent years in football, Pechanac's Czechoslovakian-born mother is a former gymnast, who then moved into gymnastics coaching. Matching (or likely exceeding) her bookish husband's mental strength, Pechanac is pretty darn smart, too—she interned with NASA and earned an MBA.

Andrew Luck's shockingly early retirement

On August 24, 2019, Andrew Luck's Indianapolis Colts lost to the Chicago Bears in an NFL preseason game. The quarterback, sidelined with an ankle injury, didn't play that night, but he certainly grabbed all the headlines, when, after the game, the 29-year-old held a press conference to announcement his retirement from football. 

The reason for what Luck called "the hardest decision" of his life? His string of injuries sucked out a lot of the joy of football for him. "For the last four years or so, I've been in this cycle of injury, pain, rehab, injury, pain, rehab, and it's been unceasing, unrelenting, both in-season and offseason, and I felt stuck in it," Luck said. "The only way I see out is to no longer play football." Indeed, Luck's career was beset by devastating injuries that benched him for half of the 2015 season, left him playing "in pain" in 2016, and then excluded him entirely in 2017. He leaves behind a stellar, if short, legacy as the third most-productive passer in Colts history, behind only Peyton Manning and Johnny Unitas. (And he's always got that architecture degree to fall back on.)