Jim Irsay Hearts Andrew Luck, Colts Players Don't

STANFORD, CA - OCTOBER 01: Andrew Luck #12 of the Stanford Cardinal in action against the UCLA Bruins at Stanford Stadium on October 1, 2011 in Stanford, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

As the Colts continue to lose, and lose they will, the #SuckForLuck tags will grow ever more plentiful across the vast expanse of the Internets. Already, Colts players are getting asked about the Stanford quarterback, who is a virtual lock for the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft.

Naturally, the Andrew Luck questions are starting to annoy the piss out of the Colts players:

"It's ridiculous, man," Wayne said. "We've got 12 games left. Who knows what's going to happen? We don't even know if Luck is what everybody says he is. One thing we do know is there is a big difference between college and the pros. You don't know what's going to happen until he makes it to the next stage. Until then, we have our quarterbacks. We're going to go rock with them."

"You really want me to address that?" Mathis asked. "You have to understand we're professionals. We don't go through training camp, minicamp, OTAs, offseason training just to tank a year for a college player that's unproven. To hell with that. I'm not tanking anything. You can write that. I'm not sucking for nobody."

Kindly do your best not to chuckle too loud at the Mathis, 'I'm not sucking for nobody,' line. The man is, after all, 260 pounds of pure muscle and terror.

I don't expect any other kind of answer out of Reggie Wayne or Robert Mathis regarding Luck. WTF are they supposed to answer? 'Oh yeah! Screw this season. We want to tank games to draft some rookie who, based on the current wage scale, likely means we veteran free agents won't get the contracts we want in 2012.'

Unfortunately for Reggie and Robert, this isn't about personally rewarding their stellar play with more money. It's about winning. It's about the future. While I respect both men as players and leaders, the reality is that if they were worth the money they want in free agency, the Colts wouldn't be 0-5 now. And if a team like Indy happens to get the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 draft, they'll definitely draft Andrew Luck. Doesn't matter if Peyton is healthy or not.

This is, in essence, what Colts owner Jim Irsay said at the league meeting in Houston last night.

From Jason Cole, Yahoo! Sports:

Owner Jim Irsay stopped well short of saying that the Indianapolis Colts were looking for an eventual successor to quarterback Peyton Manning, but he strongly indicated Monday that his team would be willing to take someone such as Stanford’s Andrew Luck in the 2012 NFL draft if the opportunity presented itself.

"Guys like that come along so rarely," Irsay said, referring to Manning and what many are projecting of Luck. The Stanford senior is already widely considered a near-lock to be the No. 1 overall pick. "Even if that means that guy sits for three or four years, you’d certainly think about taking him … you see what Green Bay did with [Brett] Favre and [Aaron] Rodgers and you’d like to be able to do the same thing."

Luck is a no-brainer pick. He's Peyton Manning in 1998, sans the Ryan Leaf there simply for comparison. Obviously, with any draft prospect, you don't know what kind of professional player you are going to get. But, from a talent, intelligence, and maturity perspective, Luck is as close a 'lock' as anyone drafted since Peyton.

There are eleven more games to go in the regular season. Anything can happen. Hell, it's possible this front office could trot out Peyton Manning late in December and have him win some meaningless games just to avoid having to deal with the Andrew Luck questions.

Seriously, don't put it past them.

Sure, it would be the ultimate example of hypocrisy, what with Bill Polian saying in 2009 that the team rested starters late in the season to avoid having key players injured in 'meaningless' games. But, Bill doesn't care. He'd do it just to show he can.

Why else keep him on the active roster? Jim Irsay is already speculating that No. 18 will be back in December:

"I think people get confused," he said. "If he came back, it wouldn’t be because we rushed him back; it would be because he’s 100 percent healthy; that he’s as healthy now as he’ll ever be, with no additional risk to injury. "Look, we want to win football games. We look at this as something where we want to win as many as we can. We don’t see it as risking him to injury. He would be 100 percent, and I feel … and Peyton feels … and the whole organization feels … that we’re going to try to go and win every game as much as we can. But it wouldn’t be a situation where he would be 90 percent, and we would be risking his health."

The 'win every game as much as we can' line is laughable when you consider Week Sixteen, 2009.

Look, I'll write this now because it just needs to get out there: If the Colts trot out Peyton Manning to play in some meaningless December games, and his presence costs the Colts the No. 1 pick, fans will never forgive Irsay, Bill Polian, or Chris Polian. Media will also eat them alive, calling attention to Week Sixteen '09 and the obvious hypocrisy with playing someone like Manning in meaningless games late in the year.

The 'carry over' argument is stupid too. That works for young teams rebuilding. This is a veteran team that will likely require sweeping changes next off-season if they want to get back into championship contention. There's likely to be a head coaching change as well at the end of the year, and if there isn't fans will continue to loudly second guess the owner and his front office.

Again, Jim Irsay better be careful here. This fanbase is not a stable one. People will turn on this franchise in a heartbeat if they see them do something as stupid as play Manning in December. For many, that might be worse that resting starts ala 2009. For Irsay's sake, and the sake of the franchise, I hope Peyton makes a slow recovery and is not ready to practice again until March of next year.

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