Adam Vinatieri: Andrew Luck Is 'A Younger Peyton Manning'

(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

For the rest of his career, Andrew Luck will get compared to Peyton Manning.

Doesn't matter if it's fair or not, or even if it's accurate or not. Luck and Peyton are joined, for better or worse.

Part of the reason for this is because (through no fault of his own, just circumstance) Luck is the reason Peyton Manning is no longer a Colt. When the Colts secured the worst record in football last year when they lost 19-13 to the Jaguars in the season finale, that sealed Peyton's fate in Indianapolis. The No. 1 pick was always going to be Andrew Luck, and as we are seeing in these reports from camp, if you draft Luck you have to play him from Day One. Anything less is shortchanging the talent, intelligence, and leadership he brings to the table.

Basically, if you were one of these people who thought Andrew Luck backing up Peyton Manning was an option in Indianapolis, sorry, but that type of thinking is no reality-based.

Plus, from a purely logic-driven mindset, a 23-year-old rookie like Luck is more desirable for a franchise looking to rebuild than a 36-year-old Manning coming off four neck surgeries. I know Manning has been turning heads at Broncos training camp, and that 41,000 fans turned out at Mile High to watch him scrimmage. Yay. Bully for them. Seeing a healthy Peyton throwing this year is GREAT for football.

However, ask any Broncos fans with half a brain in his or her head which QB they'd rather have, and their answer would be Luck, not Manning. Hell, John Elway would take Luck over Manning, and laugh his way to a dynasty over the next ten years.

Someone who knows a little something about dynasties is Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri. He was a major catalyst for the Super Bowl victories won by the New England Patriots in the early 2000s. He was there when a very young Tom Brady showed up and started impressing Bill Belichick in 2001, and he was there (in a Colts uniform after his defection from the Patriots) when Peyton Manning overcame a 21-3 halftime deficit in the 2007 AFC Championship Game to beat Belichick and Brady.

At 39, Vinatieri still has a little time left in his kicking leg. He's been around for 17 seasons, and at camp this year, he's been acting more like another coach on the field than a specialist. Coaching seems like the logical next step for Vinatieri. That, or television. The guy is great on TV.

Recently, No. 4 did an interview with Colts.com, and on the subject of rookie Andrew Luck, Vinatieri candidly said what many others have suggested or hinted at since camp opened:

It's fun to watch [Andrew]. It's a younger Peyton Manning, if you will. He's got a great arm. He's very smart. He makes all the good throws, and all that stuff.

Vinatieri has talked pretty openly to anyone willing to listen about how impressive Luck has looked in camp. It's praise that Luck has smiled and nodded at when asked about by media at Anderson University.

''It's always very nice when two guys of such high caliber (Dungy and Vinatieri) say those things, but I feel like a scrub rookie every day, so far,'' he said.

The way people will attempt to temper the Luck hype is by saying that comparisons should not be made between Luck now and Peyton now. For them (and beat writer Mike Chappell is in this camp), it's more fair to compare Luck as a rookie with Peyton as a rookie circa 1998.

While I understand what motivates that rational, it's not practical. When people like Tony Dungy and Vinatieri are claiming Luck looks like a four year pro, that suggests Luck should be compared to Peyton Manning circa 2000 or 2001.

Again, comparisons like these aren't accurate, but they will happen. Luck will deny this, but the fact of the matter is he was drafted to replace Peyton, not simply succeed him. This means that if Luck isn't out there throwing touchdowns, racking up gaudy passing stats, and being considered in the Top Five of NFL quarterbacks in the next few years, he'll be a disappointment.

This is why I keep saying no one, and I mean no one, has come into the NFL with more expectations than Andrew Luck.

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