Luck, By Popular Demand

This story appears in ESPN The Magazine's September 29 Fansourced Issue. Subscribe today!

We asked:
Which 25-or-under NFL player would you build a franchise around?
You said: Andrew Luck 32 Percent
Runners-up: Cam Newton 22 Percent, Russell Wilson 20 Percent, J.J. Watt 10 Percent, Dez Bryant 9 Percent, Robert Quinn 5 Percent, Jadeveon Clowney 2 Percent


No. 1: Star Power
Andrew Luck took a break from Colts training camp to answer some questions submitted by his fans-plus a few The Mag couldn't resist tossing his way.
Interview by Mike Wells

FANS: What is the best compliment you've ever received?
"Nice beard." [Laughs] Any time your parents tell you that they love you. Maybe it's not a compliment, but it always makes you feel good. In the football realm, any time a player comes up and says, "Good game, I respect you," that's a big deal to a player.

FANS: Who's the best QB in the league right now?
I'm not going to answer that question because I can't stand turning the TV on and the talking heads are talking about the best. I think it's a question you can answer 10 different ways and there would be 10 right ways.

THE MAG: You told Sports Illustrated that your diet is "a little Eurocentric"-you keep duck prosciutto and stinky cheeses in your fridge. How much do your teammates make fun of you? What do you eat on the road?
My teammates make fun of me a lot, and it's not just about my diet. I think everything is fair game in the locker room, which makes it fun. On the road, I try to find someplace that's unique to where you're going. Something local that you can't find in Indy. I like to feel part of that city.

FANS: If you played professional soccer instead of football, what position would you play and why?
I would love to play striker or forward because everybody wants to score goals. I played as a kid, and like any kid, you just followed the ball around and tried to kick it.

FANS: Was there ever a moment when you said, "Wow, I'm playing with ____"? Who was it?
It was Reggie [Wayne], probably the first game, our opener my rookie year against the Bears. It's Reggie Wayne I'm out there with.

FANS: What was the experience of being on Parks and Recreation like?
Good experience. I have a lot of respect for the actors and actresses on there for what they go through. It's tough for them. I actually watched it in college. And it takes place in Indiana, so there's a little bit of kindred spirit. I've never acted before, and I wouldn't call what I did acting either. [Laughs]

THE MAG: In college, you drove a Honda Accord and used a flip cellphone. Have you upgraded that life?
I have not upgraded my phone, and I'm driving a silver Chevy Tahoe.

FANS: What was your favorite class at Stanford?
I had a bunch of great professors, but we did something on relief shelters. I thought that was really interesting.

FANS: When would you draft yourself in fantasy?
This is like a lose-lose answer. Let's say middle rounds, whatever that actually means in fantasy football.

FANS: What is your Settlers of Catan strategy?
It's to try to get as many concrete points as possible early. I'm always a sucker for building the longest road.

THE MAG: You were co-valedictorian of your high school graduating class. What's the other valedictorian doing?
What's misleading about that is I think there were like 20 co-valedictorians in our class of 400-something. My school did it weird. They didn't count number grades, just letter grades, like A, B, C. ... I did see one recently at a friend's wedding, though. He's doing well. An accountant, I think.


No. 2: Expectations
If his first two seasons were any indication, this Andrew Luck guy might have a future playing quarterback. Below, we projected Luck's next four seasons,* and they are splendid. So splendid, in fact, that they match up rather nicely next to Years 3-6 of the six active Super Bowl MVP quarterbacks: Tom Brady, Peyton and Eli Manning, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers and Joe Flacco. -AARON SCHATZ, FOOTBALL OUTSIDERS

*For 2014, we used Luck's projection from this year's Football Outsiders Almanac; for 2015-17, we calculated his projection by looking at how similar quarterbacks developed.


No. 3: Technique
It was a 28-point comeback; a 35-point second half; a 443-yard, four-TD outburst. Yes, Luck's wild-card playoff performance vs. the Chiefs in January was historic. So we plucked a play from the tape-with 3:35 left in the third quarter, the Colts down 17-that best shows why No. 12 is only gettin' started. -FIELD YATES

1. Seeing a four-man rush, Luck knows he can escape the pocket when his first read, slot WR T.Y. Hilton (1a), is doubled. Luck is at ease under pressure thanks to textbook pocket movement, vision and his ability to keep his eyes downfield.

2. As Allen Bailey (2a) closes in for a sack, Luck's open-field composure is on display. He swiftly sidesteps Bailey and gives the impression he's ready to take off on the run, causing CB Marcus Cooper (2b) to lose track of WR LaVon Brazill (2c).

3. Luck, showing great field awareness, decides to throw just before crossing the line of scrimmage. His precision pass, thrown off one foot with a zip few possess, whistles by multiple defenders and into Brazill's hands for a 30-yard gain.