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Thank You, 12

After seven seasons in the NFL, Andrew Luck is calling it a career. We'll miss him.

NFL: AFC Wild Card-Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

How many Colts fans remember the following words:

“With the first pick in the 2012 NFL Draft...the Indianapolis Colts select...ANDREW LUCK....quarterback...Stanford.”

It was evident that this guy was ecstatic to join our team. Wide-eyed and grinning, he hugged his mom, beaming as she pinned him with a blue horseshoe. The camera panned to the Colts’ war room, with owners, coaches and scouts shaking hands and bumping fists. “Suck for Luck” had finally paid off. We locked up our QB1.

As he shook hands with Roger Goodell and held up the #1 jersey, I knew that this guy was different. There was something about him that struck me as a football fan. I just had a feeling that he would bring something to this team that had been lacking for a long time.

Andrew Luck brought many things to the Colts organization. Poise, professionalism, sportsmanship, charisma and toughness, to name a few. But more than anything, he brought Colts fans hope. Hope that had been lost after the departure of our longtime franchise quarterback, Peyton Manning.

The 2011 season was a tough one for Colts fans. With a final record of 2-14, it was no secret that the team was hurting and desperately needed a leader that could turn things around, and Luck did just that.

In his first season with Indianapolis, Luck led the Colts to a record of 11-5 and a second place spot in the AFC South. With 3,822 yards and 23 touchdowns, Luck brought back a buzz and an excitement to Indianapolis that had been lacking, to say the least.

I, for one, never thought I would love or respect another player as much as I did Peyton Manning. I was absolutely devastated when Manning left Indy and I didn’t know what the future held for this franchise. Little did I know we’d be gifted with one of the greatest Colts quarterbacks to ever play the game.

On Saturday, seven year veteran quarterback Andrew Luck announced his official retirement from the NFL, at the age of 29.

“This is not an easy decision,” Luck told the media in his official press conference. “Honestly it’s the hardest decision of my life, but it is the right decision for me.”

“For the last four years I’ve been in this cycle of injury, pain, rehab. And it’s been unceasing and unrelenting, both in season and off season. And I’ve felt stuck in it. And the only way I see out is to no longer play football.”

When I heard the news I was in a state of shock, much like all other Colts fans. I never thought it would end like this. I knew that Luck was struggling, I knew that the QB1 spot was up in the air because of his ankle injury, and I knew that something needed to change, but I never imagined that retirement was even on the table.

As Colts fans, I think we should take this time as an opportunity to come together and thank this quarterback that brought us out of the darkness and gave us a real shot at the big dance. Andrew Luck came into Indianapolis and immediately lit up the city and the stadium, and proved his worth both on and off the field. Unfortunately, his career was cut short due to his being plagued with injuries that no one saw coming.

I guess that’s just the way sports work, though. Players come and players go. Let us not remember Luck as a coward, but as a warrior and a true competitor. He played six seasons, some of which involved a torn labrum, a lacerated kidney, a concussion and a bum calf/ankle, and never stopped smiling along the way. He gave this team every ounce of effort he had, and in the end it just wasn’t enough.

Though the field will look a little different, and we won’t get to watch Luck connect to his favorite receivers anymore, there are still plenty of things to be hopeful about. I believe the Colts are stacked on both sides of the ball and I believe there is still hope left for this season.

Thank you, Andrew, for seven great years. For 23,671 yards, 171 touchdowns, for comebacks against teams like Kansas City and New England, and for giving your absolute everything to a city that really needed you.

We love you, we salute you, and we thank you. #12 will never be forgotten.