When it comes to on-field sledging NFL star Andrew Luck is in a league of his own.
The 25 year-old Colts Quarterback has taken the game by storm, throwing for more yards in his first three seasons than anyone else in history and taking his beloved Colts to the playoffs in each year.
Luck has the arm, the timing, and the guts to command respect on the gridiron, but it’s his game sledging that really sets him apart.
The Wall Street Journal’s Kevin Clark puts it thus: “Among NFL players, the gossip around Luck concerns a peculiar brand of on-field chatter so confusing and brilliant that no one quite knows what to make of it.”
What makes Luck’s chatter so disorienting for the defending side is that he “sincerely and enthusiastically” congratulates defenders when they tackle him hard. In a game of testosterone driven brutality, where aggression is the currency traded between teams, no one knows how to respond.
“In all the years I’ve played football I have never heard anything like it,” said Ryan Kerrigan from the Washington Redskins. He (Luck) will say “Great job!” or good hit!” when someone really sinks in the shoulder.
All the players who’ve heard it admit it is the weirdest thing they’ve ever experienced on the field.
Pass Rusher for the New England Patriots, Rob Ninkovich, said he was stunned last month when, after pole axing Luck after a snap, the quarterback complimented him on the hit.
Ninkovich stumbled for a reply, eventually stammering, “Thanks for … uh … accepting that hit ..?”
Nolan Carroll, a defensive back for the Philadelphia Eagles, was shocked when he heard Luck say, “Great job Nolan!” as he picked himself up off the Astroturf.
Carroll said it took him a moment to realise that it was Luck who was complimenting him. “I’m like, ‘What’s going on? Aren’t you supposed to be mad?
“You know if you hear a quarterback get mad that you are in his head.
“With Luck, you thought you hurt the guy and you hear, ‘Good job!’ and you just say, ‘Aw man. So then I’m the one who gets ticked off …”
According to the Wall Street Journal article Luck most probably does this because he is a genuinely nice guy. Of course there may be a little gamesmanship as well. But that would be a distant second to his respect for good play and sportsmanship.