Luck Makes Hypocrites Of Many

Steve Murray
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Wednesday - January 12, 2011
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Andrew Luck, future architect

We are all hypocrites.

I am speaking mostly about us in the media, but there is plenty of room for those in other professions who wish to speak ill of the well-balanced.

Andrew Luck, the unquestioned No. 1 pick in the upcoming NFL draft, has decided to temporarily forgo his entry into the NFL and complete his degree in architectural design.

The response has been typical: Stupid! Ridiculous! Unthinkable!

Easy does it. His decision is surprising, but we can’t exactly skewer a guy for having the audacity to do exactly what we criticize others for not doing.

That being said, I agree it’s not the smartest move. If that makes me a hypocrite, then so be it. It’s good practice for my run at political office.

It was just two months ago that I railed against the comments of former agent Josh Luch, who said the only thing student-athletes got in return for their athletic talent was an education. I stand by it. It was an ignorant statement.

But Luck is in a very different situation from the vast majority of student-athletes. He’s a signature from financial security, and his market value will never be higher. And he’ll never be more healthy.

Luck is giving up a lot in uncertain times. The NFL’s collective bargaining agreement with the Players Association ends March 30, and if there is a time to make a cash grab, this is it. The new agreement is likely to include a rookie salary cap, which means a one-year delay could cost the Stanford quarterback an estimated $40 million. Sam Bradford, last year’s No. 1, signed a six year deal for $78 million, of which $50 million was guaranteed. The year before, Matthew Stafford got $72 million over six. An $80 million payday with as much as $60 million guaranteed is not out of the question for Luck, who has everyone convinced he’s the most pro-ready prospect since Payton Manning ditched Tennessee 13 years ago. Much like his coach Jim Harbaugh, who used their 12-1 record to get an NFL had job in San Francisco, Luck needs to strike while his stock remains high.

The decision whether to stay in college or pro has to be made as a business decision. Emotions have no role - as we saw four years ago.

Following the 2006 season, in which he passed 5,549 yards, 58 touchdowns, finished sixth in the Heisman Trophy balloting and was projected to go as high as late in the first round of the draft, Colt Brennan decided to return for his senior season at UH. The Warriors went 12-0 the next year, but Brennan wasn’t able to maintain his level of effectiveness, and after getting demolished 41-10 in the Sugar Bowl, his value plummeted. Brennan was taken in the sixth round and got the expected opportunity to win a starting job - which is to say very little. He is currently unemployed.

Luck’s situation is not as dire, but nothing is guaranteed in a sport where every play comes with the opportunity for a lost career. So why take the chance?

Enter the draft. Unlike football, there is no retirement age from education. And while the “you can always get your degree later” comment is predictably bogus for most who leave school early, the likely first pick in the 2012 draft proved he wasn’t Josh Luch material when he signed to play and study on Palo Alto campus.

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