As we have tried to explain in our coverage of Andrew Luck’s shoulder, it is futile for anyone to claim legitimate information on the likelihood of Luck’s status to open the regular season when it is still six weeks away. Despite this fact, Luck’s recovery and the potential that he could miss time during the regular season will generate a lot of attention nationally as the biggest story in Indianapolis.
We suggest that you read our story on managing your expectations for Luck’s recovery before getting caught up in any headlines but when a writer with the notoriety of Jason La Canfora indicates that buzz is spreading about Luck starting the season on inactive/PUP, it is worth a response.
If you’ve read the multitude of opinions and stories that have already been written about the Colts struggles to fight back after two 8-and-8 seasons, the heavy roster turnover, the new general manager who is trying to change the team’s culture, and that the biggest reason the new general manager decided to sign a contact in Indianapolis is Andrew Luck — then you’ll find very little new in La Canfora’s story. In fact, if you’ve read most of the stories that have already been written about the question-marks surrounding Andrew Luck’s shoulder, the healing process, and his timetable for a recovery — you’ll find very little new in La Canfora’s story.
The gist of the story is the standard line — Ballard, Pagano, and Luck are non-commital on his return date. When you can’t give members of the media and fans a timetable, you’re bound to generate some noise.
The one thing that is different from La Canfora’s story, and what is generating intrigue and page views for CBS is that he stated the following:
The uncertainly with Luck -- I've heard plenty of rumblings about him starting the year on the physically unable to perform list -- comes at a unique nexus for this franchise.
The issue with this statement is that it doesn’t indicate anything about what sources around the NFL or in Indianapolis are feeding him any information on Luck’s progress. He doesn’t make any claim to have any information about the status of Luck’s shoulder or the team’s plans at all.
I think it is safe to say that Colts fans, and members of the Stampede Blue community, could safely make the same statement. “I’ve heard plenty of rumblings that Luck could start the year on the PUP.”
I definitely know that I have read “rumblings.”
Is there any actual basis for his comment? Maybe he’s heard things from surgeons? Maybe he’s heard things from coaches from other teams?
It might be easier to get a gauge on his confidence in the rumblings by looking a bit further down in his story where he states:
No one knows precisely when Luck might be cleared to return to practice, or subsequently how long it might take him to be fully cleared for contact.
This is backing away from the hook. The hook being that he’s heard rumblings that Luck will start the season on PUP. If this qualifies his original statement, it is safe to believe that he has very little to go on in terms of details on Luck’s recovery.
He goes even further trying to read “tone” into Luck’s statements in a recent interview:
... in his one meeting with the media on Saturday he cast a relatively somber tone.
"I will be better than I was coming into this," he said at the time. "I'll be better coming out of it. I know that. I don't know what day it's going to be. I don't know what week. I don't know when it's going to be, but I definitely will be."
One trick for journalists to create intrigue and interest is to remove context. Andrew Luck was responding to a series of questions coming from members of the media and this particular question revolved around the “freak out” in Colts Nation. The comment from the media was “there still is a freak out.” To which he responded, “I would say that there’s no reason to freak out.” Removing that sentence creates a more “somber tone.”
Let’s try it with Luck’s comments in response to another question from Saturday’s interviews:
Do you feel like your shoulder is getting stronger each time you go out there?
“Yeah, I do. I do. I feel like I’ve improved a lot and still need to improve, obviously. And not just the shoulder, I think when you have a surgery your whole body feels it in a sense. I started to feel like I’m putting weight back on that maybe I didn’t have and sort of getting some strength and power and explosiveness back. And that’s very exciting.”
If I cut out sections of this quote I could create, “I feel like I’ve improved a lot... I started to feel like I’m putting weight back on that maybe I didn’t have and sort of getting some strength and power and explosiveness back. And that’s very exciting.”
The final paragraph of La Canfora’s story tends to suggest that the information he has is not any different than what we already know:
It will be an even bigger challenge to win without Luck, for even a few weeks. But I wouldn't bet against him missing time into September, and I wouldn't knock the Colts for taking every bit of time to try to ensure a smooth and steady return when he is back playing again.
There’s nothing groundbreaking here.
La Canfora is a good journalist and hooked his readers with a line about vague rumblings and then backed away from that statement throughout the remainder of the story. It’s true, Colts fans need to manage their expectations for Luck’s recovery but until we approach the start of the regular season and get a better gauge of his progress, don’t expect a whole of new information.