The start and end of Colts QB Andrew Luck’s career involved the Bears

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - AUGUST 24: Andrew Luck #12 of the Indianapolis Colts walks off the field after the Indianapolis Colts preseason game against the Chicago Bears after it was reported that he would be retiring at Lucas Oil Stadium on August 24, 2019 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)

INDIANAPOLIS – Just a little under seven years ago, he came onto the field against the orange and blue to start what many believed would be a long career.

That was in Chicago on September 9, 2012, when then No. 1 pick and rookie Andrew Luck made his NFL debut against the Bears at Soldier Field. Much happened over the next seven calendar years, starting with a lot of good, then bad, then good again in 2018.

Then, on August 24, 2019, with the Bears once again on the opposing sidelines, Luck’s career came to a sudden and shocking end.

This tweet from ESPN’s Adam Schefter came down in the second half of the Colts-Bears preseason game on Saturday at Lucas Oil Stadium, as Luck was on the sidelines with his teammates. The quarterback made the news official after the game in a news conference that was expected to happen on Sunday, but the early break of the news forced Luck to address it immediately.

“This is not an easy decision, honestly it’s the hardest decision of my life, but it is the right decision for me,” said Luck at an emotional news conference. “For the last four years or so, I’ve been in this cycle of injury, pain, rehab, and it’s been unceasing and unrelenting, both in-season and offseason, and I felt stuck in it.

“The only way I see out is to no longer play football. It’s taken my joy of this game away.”

There was a lot of it when Luck made his debut against the Bears as a rookie seven years ago. He was 23-of-45 for 309 yards with a touchdown and three interceptions in a 41-21 loss to a Bears’ team that many believed was a contender for an NFC championship.

Instead it was Luck who helped turn around the rebuilding Colts in a hurry, throwing for 4,374 yards and 23 touchdowns in helping the team to a surprise run to a AFC Wild Card berth.

He’d help the team to the divisional playoff in 2013 – aided by a 28-point comeback win over the Chiefs – and in the 2014 season got the Colts to the AFC Championship. After that, injuries came into play, missing ten games the next two years then the entire 2017 season, dealing with a variety of issues the entire time.

Even with a healthy 2018 season, where he played in every game, had a career-high QB rating of 98.7, and led the Colts’ back to the playoffs despite a 1-5 start, the injury bug crept back again.

It was a calf/ankle/lower leg ailment that kept Luck out through training camp and eventually to retirement. The news broke and was confirmed against the same team he started his NFL career against, and it came with the fourth different coach to be on the Bears sideline since 2012.

Naturally, as an offensive-minded guy, Matt Nagy was asked about Luck’s retirement. He reflected not on his play on the field but his demeanor off it when he first ran into him at the 2012 NFL Scouting Combine.

“I remember sitting at a train station in Indy here at the combine, and everybody knew, you know, that he was going to be the first guy taken,” said Nagy. “And here he is, going around to these 32 tables that teams have sitting all the coaches around, to do interviews with a lot of players that might not have formal interviews; these were informal interviews.

“Most guys don’t do that, and here he is, probably the No. 1 pick in the whole draft, and he’s going around from table-to-table, sitting down in these informal interviews, with position coaches, and that always stuck out to me, and I said ‘You know what, this guy’s gonna have a heckuva career,’ and that’s what he’s done.”

One that has started and finished with the team from Chicago on the opposite sidelines.

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