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Andrew Luck on his motivation to play Sunday: “I love football”

Indianapolis Colts v Oakland Raiders Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

The Colts will be playing in a meaningless game for the first time under head coach Chuck Pagano, as they’ll be playing this Sunday against the Jaguars despite being already eliminated from playoff contention.

Because of that, there are Colts fans who want the team to rest some starters, particularly Andrew Luck, so as to avoid any injuries in this game. It doesn’t matter in the playoff hunt, so why risk an injury to the franchise player?

That was never a realistic possibility with this team, nor should it have been, and they’re going to play their healthy starters trying to win the game. Asked whether it’s a ridiculous question to even ask, Luck said “I think it is” and also confirmed on Wednesday that it’s not a topic that has even come up.

But with the team already eliminated, what’s the motivation for this Sunday’s game? For Andrew Luck, it’s the love of the game.

“Yeah, it is weird and it doesn’t feel good,” Luck said of missing the playoffs. “At the same time, I thought about it earlier this week. What’s the motivation to play? For me, it’s I love football. Another chance to get to do what you love with your buddies, with your teammates, with your friends. That’s still special so still go out and play.”

Luck loves the game of football, and that’s been well-documented over the years through things like his compliments of defenders for great hits. That doesn’t make it any easier to cope with missing the playoffs, but it does provide motivation for this weekend.

“Yeah, it is tough to swallow,” Luck said. “It’s not fun in one sense, but the beauty of sports is your win-loss record sort of tells you everything and you don’t have anybody else to blame but yourself if you’re not doing well and if you’re doing well then great, you deserve to be in it.”

The Colts didn’t do well enough this year and indeed have no one to blame but themselves, and they haven’t even taken care of business at home. They’re just 3-4 this year at Lucas Oil Stadium, so they’re hoping to end this lost season on a bit of a high note with a win to get to 8-8 in front of the home crowd.

“We always want to win at home,” Luck said. “That’s a goal going into every season. We haven’t done a great job of that. This is our last chance to do that. The crowd has been great and hopefully it’s another great one. Lucas Oil is a wonderful place to play so it’s vitally important that we get a home win.”

Luck has done his part this season, as he’s enjoyed arguably the best season of his career. He’s completed 63.8% of his passes for 3,919 yards (7.8 yards per attempt), 29 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions for a passer rating of 96.8 while also rushing for 324 yards and two touchdowns (averaging 5.3 yards per carry). He’s taken strides forward as a player, but ultimately it wasn’t enough to get a bad Colts team to the playoffs. So right now, he’s not spending time looking back at where he improved but rather just feeling the disappointment for not being good enough to get in the postseason.

“No, it’s hard to take a step back and grade or self-scout right now,” he said. “Obviously, I feel like I failed because we haven’t made it to the playoffs and a chance to get your ultimate goal. That’s probably how everybody feels, but we’ll be ready to go for this weekend.”