INDIANAPOLIS -- No matter how much Andrew Luck's competitive juices flow, and no matter how much the Indianapolis Colts quarterback wants to play in a regular-season game this season, the franchise should shut him down for the rest of the season to avoid any more setbacks in what has been two-plus trying seasons.
Wednesday's news of the team's decision to shut Luck down for the time being and give him a cortisone shot in his surgically repaired right shoulder should have sealed Luck's 2017 fate.
Colts general manager Chris Ballard talked like a guy who is leaving that possibility open because he wouldn't put a timeline on when Luck will return to practice, and he couldn't say for sure that his $140 million quarterback will play this season.
"I don't think it'll be long, but I don't want to sit here and give you an exact date and it doesn't happen and you're saying, 'What was that guy talking about?'" Ballard said.
Playing Luck this season would be a good idea if he were going to be ready for the Week 8 game at Cincinnati or even Week 9 at Houston. But the odds of that happening are pretty slim at this point because of the lack of a timeline for when he'll get back on the practice field for the Colts (2-4).
"I don't think anybody in this room can question Andrew Luck's toughness and willingness to go out and play with pain," Ballard said. "We want to get to a point where he can practice every day."
One thing Ballard, unlike owner Jim Irsay, has emphasized since April is that the franchise quarterback will not play until he's fully healthy. That's why it wouldn't be surprising if Luck doesn't play again until the 2018 season. It isn't worth Luck re-injuring his shoulder or suffering another injury during a season that has already seen several high-profile players, including Aaron Rodgers, Odell Beckham Jr. and J.J. Watt, suffer season-ending injuries.
It has always been about Luck's long-term health, not the short term. The Colts are fine enduring their current lumps because they want to ensure that Luck is their starting quarterback for years to come. Jacoby Brissett, who was acquired from New England on Sept. 2, will continue to start at quarterback until the Colts make Luck their starter again.