January 27, 2013; Honolulu, HI, USA; AFC quarterback Peyton Manning of the Denver Broncos (18) and AFC quarterback Andrew Luck of the Indianapolis Colts (12) pass the ball during warm ups before the 2013 Pro Bowl against the NFC at Aloha Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The Curious Cases Of Andrew Luck And Peyton Manning

One of the greatest things about sports are the inevitable comparisons that young stars have to deal with at some point in their careers.

Most of these comparisons have no merit and are based solely on what people want to see in a player (Harold Minor being compared to Michael Jordan comes to mind). Although sometimes they are warranted, you’ve all heard the Kobe and Jordan or Lebron and Jordan references enough times at this point to probably melt your brain.

Regardless of how you feel, these comparisons always come up in conversation for one simple reason — they’re fun. If it weren’t for discussions like these half of the mid-day sports shows would be canceled and we’d all be watching Maury Povich, trying to figure out how many times we’ve ate at Wendy’s this month, but I digress.

Two players that I’d like to address the striking similarities between are Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck and his predecessor and current Denver Broncos quarterback (and former Tennessee Volunteer) Peyton Manning.

Yes I know they both playe[ed] for the Colts, they’re both first overall picks etc etc, but if you dive a little deeper, you may find more similarities than just a common uniform.

Both Drafted First Overall By The Indianapolis Colts

This is the first, and most obvious, common bond between Andrew Luck and Peyton Manning, but it actually goes beyond just being the first pick in the draft by the same franchise.

In 1998 Bill Polian took over as general manager of the Indianapolis Colts, who were coming off a 3-13 season, and made his first draft selection. His selection of course was Peyton Manning, out of the University of Tennessee.

Fast forward 13 years. After a tumultuous 2011 season (which Manning missed), that saw the Colts finish with a 2-14 record, Bill Polian was fired by owner Jim Irsay.

Irsay then hired Ryan Grigson, who had been the Philadelphia Eagles director of player personnel, as the team’s new general manager.

Grigson’s first draft selection as the Colt’s GM was of course Andrew Luck. Which means not only were Luck and Manning both first overall picks by the same franchise, but they were first overall picks by a new general manager as well.

Runner-up In Heisman Voting

To this day casual football fans often (wrongly) attribute a Heisman Trophy to Peyton Manning. It wouldn’t surprise us if the same is done for Andrew Luck in the future.

The reality is that neither one of these talented quarterbacks were a Heisman winner.

In 1997 Peyton Manning lost out to Michigan defensive back Charles Woodson by 282 voting points.

Andrew Luck made the trip to the Nokia Theatre in New York City twice for the Heisman Trophy presentation. In 2010, Luck’s sophomore season, he lost in a landslide to Auburn’s Cam Newton.

The 2011 Heisman race was a battle between Baylor’s Robert Griffin III and Luck. Griffin ended up winning the award — by 280 voting points, a number insanely close to the 282 points that separated Charles Woodson and Peyton Manning in the 1997 race.

Son Of A Former NFL QB

Neither Manning or Luck are the first NFL quarterbacks in their families, that honor goes to their fathers.

Peyton’s father, Archie Manning, was a standout quarterback at Ole Miss and ended up being the second player selected in the 1971 NFL draft by the New Orleans Saints.

Luck’s father, Oliver Luck, played his college football at West Virginia and was taken With the 44th overall pick of the 1982 NFL draft by the Houston Oilers.

The two actually ended up being teammates during the 1982 and 1983 seasons in Houston.

Both have remained close to the game of football since retiring from the NFL. Archie as an occasional commentator for CBS and Oliver as the athletic director at West Virginia, his alma mater.

Being the child of a former NFL quarterback isn’t the reason for Luck or Manning’s success, but it’s definitely a factor.

Having a father that plays quarterback for an NFL franchise is an invaluable resource for a young aspiring football player. It’s ultimately up to those young players how much they tap into that resource. Luck and Manning are both students of the game and it’s obvious that they’ve used that resource to it’s full potential.

Passed Up Being Number One Selection For Another Year In College

There’s a slight variation to Andrew Luck’s story about remaining in school when you compare it to Peyton Manning’s, but the theme is the same nonetheless.

Peyton Manning completed his degree at Tennessee in three years and was projected to be the top overall selection in the 1997 NFL Draft.

Manning stunned reporters, fans and coaches when he announced he’d be returning for his senior season at Tennessee.

Andrew Luck was projected to be the top overall pick in the 2011 draft after his redshirt sophomore season at Stanford. Luck announced shortly after the 010 season ended that he would be returning for his junior season to complete his degree at Stanford.

Luck ended up entering the draft after his redshirt junior season, with a year of eligibility remaining.

Even though Luck didn’t return for his senior season, he did pass up an opportunity to be the consensus first overall selection just as Peyton manning had done 14 years earlier.

First Pre-Season Pass Attempt

In 1998 Peyton Manning made his first career pass attempt as an NFL quarterback, against the Seattle Seahawks in a pre-season matchup. Manning’s first pass of the game was completed to Marvin Harrison, who was running a slant route. Harrison took the ball 48 yards for a touchdown.

14 years later, in 2012, Andrew Luck was under center for the first time in his NFL career in a pre-season game against the St. Louis Rams. Luck’s first pass attempt ended up being a screen pass that was completed to Donald Brown for a 63 yard score.

Many will strike this up to a remarkable coincidence and they’d be correct in doing so. It’s still another incredible correlation between the careers of Andrew Luck and Peyton Manning.

First Regular Season Game

Andrew Luck and Peyton Manning’s stats from their first regular season games are eerily similar, and not just because they both lost in their regular season debuts at the same age of 22.

Peyton Manning played in his first regular season game on September 6, 1998 against the Miami Dolphins. The Colts would lose to the Dolphins that day 25-14. Peyton finished with 302 passing yards, completing 21 of his 37 attempts. Manning also threw one touchdown and three interceptions in the season-opening loss.

Andrew Luck made his regular season debut against the Chicago Bears on September 9, 2012, two days shy of his 23rd birthday.

The Colts, as they did in 1998, lost their season opener 41-21 at the hands of the Bears. Luck finished the day with 309 passing yards on 23-of-45 passing. Luck, just like Manning, threw for one touchdown and three interceptions.

Oh, and those touchdown passes in their debut, in case you’re wondering — Peyton threw a six yard touchdown to Marvin Harrison, while Luck threw a four yard touchdown to Donnie Avery.

If that wasn’t enough, both scores came during the fourth quarter.

Final Stats From Rookie Season

One of the biggest criticisms of Andrew Luck after his rookie season were the amount of interceptions he threw. Another criticism was his low completion percentage.

The comparison of Luck and Manning’s final stats from their rookie seasons should ease some of those concerns if you’re a Luck supporter.

Andrew Luck finished the 2012 season with 4,374 passing yards (which is a rookie record, Luck broke Cam Newton’s record that was previously held by Peyton Manning), 23 touchdowns, 18 interceptions and a completion percentage of 54.07.

Peyton Manning ended his rookie campaign with 3,739 passing yards, 26 touchdowns, 28 interceptions and a completion percentage of 56.70.

Luck arguably had the better rookie season statistically, throwing for more yardage, less interceptions and a comparable completion percentage.

What Does All Of This Mean?

Unfortunately, like most comparisons, it doesn’t really mean a whole lot.

There are a lot of parallels to the early portion of Luck and Manning’s careers, but Luck still has a long long way to go if he wants to catch up to Peyton.

Luck is off to a good start though. In fact, in most every way, Luck is off to a better start than Manning.

Andrew Luck took over a horrible team and led them to the playoffs. That’s quite an accomplishment when you consider the year the Colts had in 2011.

Peyton Manning can’t say the same about his rookie year. The Colts finished 3-13 in 1998, but Manning made considerable progress during his second year and the Colts finished 13-3.

It’ll be important not to judge Luck based solely on the first few years of his career. Especially when it comes to wins and losses in the playoffs, after all it took Peyton nine years to win his first (and only) Super Bowl.

How do you view the similarities between Andrew Luck and Peyton Manning?

Crazy coincidence or meaningless banter?

Sound off in the comments and let us know what you think!



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