Friday, January 7, 2011

The Andrew Luck debate shouldn't even exist

About 12 years ago, a close friend of mine quit smoking cigarettes.  It was, I believe, a very smart move on his part.  Another friend - a smoker - told him one day "I can't believe you quit.  You like it so much."  Translation: "I'd never quit, so why did you?"

The same scenario seems to be playing out across the country in reaction to Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck's decision to remain in school, complete his degree in architectural design and enter the draft (presumably) in 2012.  Those who would bolt for the money ASAP are nearly incredulous in their reaction.  To them, it's ALL about the money.  Nothing else matters.  How sad.

Luck just completed his redshirt sophomore season with the Cardinal and had already been projected as the top pick in this year's NFL Draft.  His father Oliver is a former NFL QB and is currently Athletics Director at West Virginia.  His head coach is Jim Harbaugh, another former NFL QB who's been in the news as much as any American politician this week.  Andrew has received excellent counsel from both and has made a rare, surprising and, in this guy's opinion, very welcome decision.  He likes school and is staying put.  Well done young man.

That's where this debate should end, but it hasn't.

This story broke about halfway through our show Thursday.  Michael and I both agreed this was a great choice.  We also agreed that had Luck elected to go pro that too would've been a wise move.  He simply couldn't go wrong.  Degree from Stanford in four years?  Worth millions to him, just like an NFL contract. Plus, from a football perspective, he'll be the Heisman Trophy frontrunner, come back to a team that lost just once and returns the bulk of its starting lineup.  We should all be so fortunate to have that type of "backup plan."

However, as time passed yesterday it became apparent that many found his decision foolish and misguided.  "What if he gets hurt?"  "Is he doing this to avoid the Panthers?"  My answers: what if he does and no.  He's doing it because he's a fine student at one of the most respected universities on the planet.  He likes college, his team, his friends and simply wants to finish what he started.  Refreshing in this day and age.

Don't get it twisted here.  If a college underclassman is ready, projected as a high draft pick and decides to bolt a year or two early then good for him.  I'd never be one to stand in the way.  What I don't understand is the vilification of a 20 year old who actually highlights the student portion of "student-athlete."  How is that bad?

Most people get it and are happy for him.  The ones who think he's foolish, stupid or worse; the ones who'd do it just for money and nothing else are very loud today.  That's too bad.  The world could probably use a few more Andrew Lucks, but the ones that need him most would never follow his lead.

Maybe they'd be happier following Ryan Leaf.  How's he doing these days?

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