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Andrew Luck Looks Back at His Career At Indianapolis Colts As He Makes His Final Appearence

Andrew Luck (Via NFL/Twitter)

As he walked off the field for the final time, Andrew Luck was holding in a complex mix of emotions.

His stunning decision to retire in August 2019 had just become public during the fourth quarter of an Indianapolis Colts preseason game, and Luck was suddenly being showered with boos as he headed for the locker room at Lucas Oil Stadium.

But on Friday, when Luck made one of his first public appearances in Indianapolis since that evening, those memories were far away. Luck acknowledged a complicated tenure with the team but said he came away with mostly fond memories.

“We were not perfect,” said Luck, the No. 1 pick in the 2012 NFL draft. “I know I was not perfect. All of us wished we’d had multiple Super Bowls and done things and sort of vanquished some of those enemies that we didn’t quite ever get to.

But I could probably speak for all the other guys, and I know I could speak for myself again — it wasn’t perfect, but we tried our best. We tried our hardest, and I hope we gave folks something to cheer about and something to be proud of. And I do get the sense that we [did].”

Andrew Luck (Via NFL/Twitter)

Luck was back at Colts headquarters Friday night to participate in former coach Chuck Pagano’s Chuckstrong Tailgate Gala, a fundraiser for the Indiana University Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Pagano, who famously underwent treatment for leukemia during Luck’s rookie season, personally invited the former quarterback.

At the event, Colts owner Jim Irsay donated $1 million after Luck and Pagano successfully completed a challenge in which they threw footballs to knock down a series of boards.

Luck has kept a low profile since his retirement and moved from Indianapolis to Northern California, where he is enrolled in graduate school at his alma mater, Stanford.

Although he still makes frequent trips to Indianapolis to visit friends — he and his wife, Nicole, have even retained their Indianapolis 500 tickets, he said — Luck has gone to great lengths to stay out of the public eye when in town.

Indianapolis Colts (Via NFL/Twitter)

That’s why his appearance at Friday’s event represented a sizable shift for someone who was always uncomfortable with the spotlight and has a complicated legacy, given his abrupt retirement after just seven seasons and four Pro Bowl selections.

“I certainly feel like Indianapolis is a massive part of the fabric of who I am and where life has gone and highs and the lows and everything in between,” Luck said. “It feels very real. So, yeah, I certainly feel the love, in a sense, from the city, and I hope people know it’s reciprocal. We love this place.”

After a couple of years of plotting his next moves, Luck has settled into his academics and is pursuing a master’s degree in education. He is a volunteer coach at nearby Palo Alto High School, which has given him a needed opportunity to “reintegrate” the game into his life, he said.

“Football gave me a lot,” Luck said. “Most importantly, again, the relationships and the experiences with people that I love, like Chuck. I think part of me feels — and I don’t mean this in a cheesy way — but part of me feels like it’s my turn to give back into this game, and this is what feels right at this moment.”

And just for the record, despite much speculation to the contrary in the years after he walked away, Luck said a return to the NFL was never a consideration.

“When I retired,” he said, “that part of it was put to bed in my mind.”

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