< Andrew Luck


Monday, March 18, 2013

This is Alec Baldwin, and you're listening to Here's The Thing from WNYC radio.

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Andrew Luck was the number one draft pick in the National Football League last year. He was hired to replace one of his heroes – the legendary Peyton Manning – as quarterback of the Indianapolis Colts.

The hype on Luck was enormous, and many doubted that the Stanford graduate could live up to it. But Luck delivered, setting a new NFL record for most the  passing yards by any rookie ever. Luck also led his team to 11 victories in a playoff birth. This was the team that won just two games the year before Luck arrived.

Andrew Luck – a self-described nerd – is nothing if not level-headed when he talks about the transitions from high school to college to pro football.

There's definitely large difference along the way, but I also know a lot of the challenges are the same. Something fresh in my mind still is finishing a rookie year. What was similar about rookie year to being a sophomore in high school and starting on varsity once to being in college and starting as a sophomore as well, I think the same things persist - how as a young kid – how as a 15-year-old kid do you play with 18-year-olds? How does a 19-year-old kid play with 22-year-olds?

Alec Baldwin: Is that what you did? How was it?

Andrew Luck: It's weird.

Alec Baldwin: What do you remember about high school ball?

Andrew Luck:  I just wanted to keep my mouth shut.

Alec Baldwin: You were in Houston?

Andrew Luck: In Houston – which they do have like somewhat of a religious cult following of high school football in Texas.

Alec Baldwin: It is Friday Night Lights there.

Andrew Luck: It truly is. And it's sensationalized a bit with the movies and the books, but people get in to it. We had 15,000 people watching games for a bunch of high school kids.

Alec Baldwin: For high school ball.

Andrew Luck: Yeah. But I do remember being a rookie thinking back to being a sophomore. How do you earn the respect of the guys older than you? How do you go in there with no confidence?

Alec Baldwin: So would you say that's how it seemed – each step of the way was proving yourself?

Andrew Luck: Yeah.

Alec Baldwin: To people who, when you show up, the vets are there or the guys who have a few more seasons under their belt, and you wanna show them you belong there.

Andrew Luck: No absolutely.

Alec Baldwin: Describe what it was like when you went from Houston to Stanford.

Andrew Luck: Same thing – it was fun for me to be out in California.

Alec Baldwin: And you were a scholar. You did very well in school.

 Andrew Luck: I did all right. I managed to get by. I studied architecture, which was fun for me and which I enjoyed, which I'm much better I think on projects than writing papers. So I'm glad I studied something I enjoyed.

 Alec Baldwin: Do you think that that kind of pursuit academically – like something that involves geometry and math and so forth and measurements – helped you as a quarterback?

 Andrew Luck: I don't know. People have asked me to compare the two, and it can't hurt, but realistically how much can solving a math problem help at a football game?

 Alec Baldwin: It might be just intrinsic how you just see things.

 Andrew Luck: Maybe it is.

 Alec Baldwin: when that guy's going deep over the middle maybe you're sitting there going, 'This is – this looks like the Louvre to me.'

 And then when you went to Stanford, what was that like? You showed up there – when you talk about that idea of showing up and proving yourself, what was it like for you?

 Andrew Luck: It was great - a lot of great people at Stanford. Everybody has got such an amazing story. You're meeting princes and princesses of royal families from the Middle East; you got classmates that are inventing apps and doing all these great engineering things.

 Alec Baldwin: It's a prominent environment there, the school.

 Andrew Luck: Yeah it is. It really – they cultivate an environment of creating great things and people, I think, and so I think as a football team we wanted to be out there as well in the athletic world.

 Alec Baldwin: You showed up there your freshman year. What was your first year like?

 Andrew Luck: First year was great. Didn't play. Redshirted, which was difficult.

 Alec Baldwin: Describe for people exactly how redshirting works.

 Andrew Luck: Redshirting is a process where you go to school and everybody has four years of eligibility to play. But you can redshirt a year – which doesn't take away your eligibility – one of those years, and but you still practice with the team, you still do everything with team; you're just not allowed to play in a game. So theoretically you can redshirt a year.

 Alec Baldwin: So it buys you another year.

 Andrew Luck: Yeah. And then you go to school for – be in school for five years. So it gives you a year.

 Alec Baldwin: And you redshirted your first year?

 Andrew Luck: I redshirted my first year.

 Alec Baldwin: Why?

 Andrew Luck: I wasn't ready to play. And I needed to get bigger, faster, stronger – physically and also mentally – just catch up to the game.

 Alec Baldwin: So when you come to a school like that, when they take you there – and they recruited you, correct?

 Andrew Luck: Yes they did.

 Alec Baldwin: And when they recruit you to come, they recruit you – the redshirt thing was something they had in mind? So at that level – at the Stanford level – they have you come and they say, 'We're gonna bring you here, and we're just gonna develop you for the first year'?

 Andrew Luck: Yeah. And some guys in my class were good enough to play as freshmen. But I know in my recruiting process that was a thought that came up, you know, redshirt.

 Alec Baldwin: They wanted you to muscle up and get stronger.

 Andrew Luck: Yeah and mentally, too.  

 Alec Baldwin: Right.

 Andrew Luck: I think mentally – catch up to a playbook – having to learn that. And the game is faster in college than it is in high school. So it definitely helped, and I enjoyed it.

 Alec Baldwin: And what was that experience like? 'Cause someone said that to me once; they said that 'You go from high school, and you're a dominant player in high school; then you go to college, and you're in a room full of high school dominant players.'

 Andrew Luck: Yeah.  

 Alec Baldwin: Was it really kind of awe-inspiring to you to see that everybody was faster and stronger?

 Andrew Luck: It's humbling.

 Alec Baldwin: 'It's humbling.'

 Andrew Luck: I'll say that you get knocked off your high horse very, very quickly.

 Andrew Luck: Everybody's an all-star. You go from being the top dog probably starting on every... sport at everything.

 Alec Baldwin: You're the king back home.

 Andrew Luck: Yeah – at everything you've ever played in, the cheerleaders wanna date you. Then you go to college and you're just another...

 Alec Baldwin: Yeah you're carrying somebody else's bags.

 Andrew Luck: Exactly.

 Alec Baldwin: So you redshirt that year, and then you come back the second year. And I'm assuming you were stronger and you had developed, and did you – and you felt better – you felt stronger.

 Andrew Luck: No I think I put on like 20 – 25 pounds... and my mind was working much quicker when it – on the football side of things, and –

 Alec Baldwin: You were getting ready.

 Andrew Luck: Getting ready.

 Alec Baldwin: And what happens in that second year?

 Andrew Luck: Coach Harbaugh, who's coaching the games – he gave me a shot; managed to roll with it. I got to play in all the games. I got hurt the last game of the season and missed out on a bowl game. We had a great running back that year – Toby Gerhart, who's backing Adrian Peterson up in Minnesota right now.

 Alec Baldwin: Did you get smacked around a lot? I mean, you're playing football at Stanford. What was that like for you – that threat every day? And is it pure adrenaline where you say to yourself, 'I can't think about that. I can't afford to think about that'? Or every minute you're out there do you think, 'These guys, man, they really – if they hit me it's really gonna hurt like hell'?

 Andrew Luck: No I think it – you can't let yourself think about getting hit.

 Alec Baldwin: You block it out.

 Andrew Luck: You have to, I think. As soon as you start getting skittish about being hit, then your play is gonna plummet.

 Alec Baldwin: Yeah.

 Andrew Luck: There's a little bit of pride involvement, too, I think, as a football player. At least in my mind. I sort've enjoy getting hit every now and then and being able to stand back up and say, 'Okay you hit me – whatever, man. I'm getting back up.'

 Alec Baldwin: As they say in Raging Bull – 'You didn't get me down, Ray.'

 Andrew Luck: So there – I think for a lot of players there's a bit of that.

 Alec Baldwin: What did Harbaugh give you as a coach? What would you say distinguished him as a coach?

 Andrew Luck: I think he builds great relationships with players, everybody on the staff; and he's an unbelievable motivator. And I think he does it – and he feels guys, he senses what's gonna motivate them, I think. And he does a great job of using different ways to motivate different guys. He always – on game day you always felt like the guy was gonna run through Hell and back with you if you had to. You felt like he had your back.

 Alec Baldwin: You trusted him.

 Andrew Luck: If you wanted to be in a brawl in an alley, you wanted Coach Harbaugh with you.

 Alec Baldwin: And when you went in to the pros – 'cause I wanna come back to when you finished Stanford in a minute, but – when you were in the pros, [Chuck] Pagano was very sick.

 Andrew Luck: Yeah.

 Alec Baldwin: And that was a big thing in the NFL; that's a big story this year. What was like for you with you when you found out your coach was seriously, seriously ill?

 Andrew Luck: Yeah it was a little bit of an unprecedented situation when Coach Pagano went down... in week three maybe?

 Alec Baldwin: Had you seen it coming?

 Andrew Luck: No. No clue.

 Alec Baldwin: So everybody kept it quiet.

 Andrew Luck: Yeah we had no clue.

 Alec Baldwin: The team and everybody didn't know?

 Andrew Luck: No we didn't know. We had our – we played a game, we had a bye weekend – or an early week, so we were off for the weekend, we came back expecting to see Coach Pagano there, find out there's a doctor from IU Health and our offensive coordinator who called the plays sitting up there telling us, 'Coach Pagano's sick – seriously sick – with Leukemia, and we'll see how it goes.'

 It was an odd – it was tough, too – tough, but we were lucky – we had a lot of good coaches rally us. We managed to win a couple games when he was out. And I know as players we felt like, 'If we can just win this game, maybe it'll give Coach Pagano something to be happy about this week.'

 We didn't say that at the time, 'cause I don't think we wanted to admit – that was pressure on –

 Alec Baldwin: You wanted...

 Andrew Luck: Yeah exactly. I don't think we wanted to sensationalize.  

 I don't wanna make it something it's not.

 Alec Baldwin: Well speaking of sensationalizing – so you get to – you finish out Stanford. How does – what's it like when you leave Stanford? 'Cause you redshirted your first year then play – and you finished at Stanford?

 Andrew Luck: Yeah I played –

 Alec Baldwin: You didn't leave.

 Andrew Luck: Three years. So I graduated. I had one year of eligibility left, but –

 Alec Baldwin: And you did – and it was time to go.

 Andrew Luck: It was time to go.

 Alec Baldwin: How did you know it was time to go?

 Andrew Luck: My degree. I got my degree.

 Alec Baldwin: You had a degree – exactly. Which really didn't make any sense to stay.

 Andrew Luck: Yeah. It didn't. I had enough fun, and then it was time to grow up.

 Alec Baldwin: And then what happens?

 Tell me where you're sitting when you find out what's going on for you NFL-wise – how does that develop?

 Andrew Luck: It's a sort of long process. I was drafted before I graduated school. So you finish your college season – we were on the quarter system at Stanford, so I took the winter quarter off to go train and prepare. They have a combine.–

 Alec Baldwin: Where?

 Andrew Luck: In Indianapolis, which funny enough is where I ended up.
 Alec Baldwin: That's not The Manning Passing Academy?

 Andrew Luck: That's not The Manning Passing – That's a camp in Louisiana in Thibodaux. But the combine is a really interesting, weird... sort of dynamic where they fly all these players in, they have all the coaches, they have all the team doctors. And it's three days.

 Alec Baldwin: And you're their pick?

 Andrew Luck: And –

 Alec Baldwin: Not yet? Okay.

 Andrew Luck: No, no, no - This is before. So this is a chance for all the teams to meet the players to see if -

 Alec Baldwin: So the combine is NFL-wide. It's not Just Indy – it's league-wide.

 Andrew Luck: All the teams fly in to Indy.

 Alec Baldwin: Got it.

 Andrew Luck: With all their personnel – they all stay – and then the players sort of cycle through. We're like cattle in a meat market. And then I remember walking up on stage with nothing but my little skivvies on, and they announce, 'Andrew Luck –'

 Alec Baldwin: It's the Victoria's Secret runway show.

 Andrew Luck: Exactly. You're on a stage with strength coaches, head coaches, and all these coaches sitting in the bleachers around you, you walk up in the middle, and they say, 'Andrew Luck, Stanford University, 6'4", 235.'

 Alec Baldwin: And guys are there with pads going, 'I don't like the ratio of his thigh muscles to his rib cage. Write that down, Ray. I don't like that rib-thigh ratio.'

 Andrew Luck: God knows what they're saying up there.

 Alec Baldwin: God knows.

 Andrew Luck: Yeah and then you turn around and you walk off.

 Alec Baldwin: Yeah.

 Andrew Luck: That's just one of the – guys where you're getting 100 X-rays on every part of your body –

 Alec Baldwin: No.

 Andrew Luck: They move your knee this way, your toe that way.

 Alec Baldwin: You're like an astronaut.

 Andrew Luck: They have all your medical records. They're going back to – 'It says here 2006...' I was 16 years old in 2006.

 'You sprained your right ankle.'

 Alec Baldwin: Yeah.

 Andrew Luck: How did you find that out?

 Alec Baldwin: 'You stole that candy bar from the drug store next to the movie theater when you were 14. We got that down here, too.'

 Andrew Luck: They do, I swear they're like –

 Alec Baldwin: They got a lot of private detectives working…

 Andrew Luck: They do. Which makes sense, 'cause there's so much money invested by these teams in the players.

 Alec Baldwin: Of course. In the modern world. Yeah, so anyway so you're there, and you're – and you take your clothes off except for your underwear, they size you up –

 Andrew Luck: They do.

 Alec Baldwin: You turn and you leave. What happens next at the combine?

 Andrew Luck: Then you go do a bunch of physical – running a 40, throwing –

 Alec Baldwin: Tests.

 Andrew Luck: Yeah a bunch of physical tests, a bunch of psychological tests, IQ tests, mental health tests...

 Alec Baldwin: What's the quiz they give you now? The test?

 Andrew Luck: Oh, what's it called? The Wonderlic.

 Alec Baldwin: The Wonderlic.

 Andrew Luck: The Wonderlic. They do that.

 Alec Baldwin: Cause it's presumed the playbooks now are so complicated, they need people that literally put that together?

 Andrew Luck: It is, but I figure-

 Alec Baldwin: Some put it together better than others.

 Andrew Luck: Some do. And then some take stock in the Wonderlic, some don't. I think different teams have different ways of evaluating guys. So that was an interesting experience. Then you sort of, then you leave the combine. And I had a fairly good sense that I would be drafted number one by Indianapolis, just from the signals I was getting from the team and other things. And then school started again for me. So and going back to school and flying and visiting teams, and draft happens in New York – which is a pretty neat experience.

 Alec Baldwin: Describe what happened for you.

 Andrew Luck: I remember walking out on stage and some people applauding and some people booing.

 Alec Baldwin: Why?

 Andrew Luck: I don't know. NFL fans boo.

 Alec Baldwin: How did you feel? You knew it was gonna happen, kind of, everybody let you know that in advance. The cat's out of the bag. But when it happens – the moment it happens – did you just feel great? You were number one in the draft that year, man.

 Andrew Luck: Yeah I felt on top of the world. I'm not gonna lie. A little nervous – I didn't want to trip walking out on stage to shake –

 Alec Baldwin: I understand.

 Andrew Luck: … or hug the Commissioner. He's into these hugs when – you're walking on the stage and you hug him.

 Alec Baldwin: Yeah. He's glad you're there.

 Andrew Luck: Yeah.

 Alec Baldwin: He's gonna make a lot of money off of you.

 Andrew Luck: So that was fun. I remember what happened. A little pin that my mom was trying to, a little pin that was trying to pin on my suit, and she was really nervous cause she took about two minutes to get that little pin – I was like, 'I wanna go on stage.'

 Alec Baldwin: How did your dad feel? Your dad was a high school quarterback, he played for West Virginia, he played for the Oilers.

 Andrew Luck: Yeah.

 Alec Baldwin: How did he feel to see you do this? That's a great thing for a dad who was a scholar athlete as well to see his son do the – What did he say to you?

 Andrew Luck: I think he was very proud. He just said, 'Congratulations.' I don't remember specifics, but he didn't talk much.

 Alec Baldwin: Good day.

 Andrew Luck: He just kept smiling. He was just –

 Alec Baldwin: He felt good.

 Andrew Luck: He did. And we have a great relationship. It's easier for me having a dad who played in the NFL and did a lot of the similar experiences.

 Alec Baldwin: He had a couple seasons where he played, and then he backed up Warren Moon for quarterback.

 Andrew Luck: Yeah he did back up Warren; and he also backed up Archie Manning his rookie year. So he had sort of a connection with the Manning family.

 Alec Baldwin: With the Mannings. Now as soon as you – or the draft is over, I would assume there's a euphoria but you snap right out of it, 'cause it's down to business now.

 Andrew Luck: Yeah there was a euphoria. And then I wish it would have been down to business, but I had to go back to school and finish up. And you try sitting in a lecture after you've been drafted by a team – you have a job, you know where you're going – you're like-

 Alec Baldwin: I honestly don't feel sorry for you. I would – I can't think of anything I'd like more than to go back to Stanford having been the number one draft in the NFL. So you go back. How long are you back there?

 Andrew Luck: Back for maybe a couple more months to finish up.

 Alec Baldwin: To finish that last quarter. What time of year is that?

 You gotta get – the draft is when?

 Andrew Luck: The draft is like April.

 Alec Baldwin: Right. And so then you gotta go back – so what is that – the summer quarter?

 Andrew Luck: It was the spring quarter. And we finished up in mid-June.

 Alec Baldwin: So you were in the quarter, and you went to the draft and came back.

 Andrew Luck: Yeah for a weekend –

 Alec Baldwin: So in the midst of the quarter.

 Andrew Luck: Yeah.

 Alec Baldwin: It's draft, come back...

 Andrew Luck: Yeah.

 Alec Baldwin: …and then you finish, and you're done with Stanford, you get your degree.

 Andrew Luck: Yeah.

 Alec Baldwin: In architecture.

 Andrew Luck: Yeah. Somehow they let me pass.

 Alec Baldwin: You were good for Stanford. And so now, when do you report?

 Andrew Luck: So we report – late July was when training camps starts, when the actual –

 Alec Baldwin: That's the formal training camp?

 Andrew Luck: The formal training camp.

 Alec Baldwin: So you show up for your first pro training camp. Now you are in the center ring. It ain't high school; it ain't college; it ain't Big Ten. It's professional football. What's that like? Does your ass tighten just a little bit when you're there?

 Andrew Luck: I puckered up a bit.

 Alec Baldwin: Yeah.

 Andrew Luck: I puckered up a bit.

 Alec Baldwin: These guys are huge.

 Andrew Luck: They are. They are the apex of physical freaks. There are some guys that are 300 pounds that are running faster – running –

 Alec Baldwin: Than your high school running back.

 Andrew Luck: Yeah – that are just absolutely physical. And some of the guys – you're walking along – you're playing with 35-year-olds, 36-year-olds with three kids and a house; and we're a bunch of rookies that are 22, 23 years old that don't know right from left. So it's a different dynamic than college where you're sort of... fraternizing with your –

 Alec Baldwin: Well everybody's a peer.

 Andrew Luck: Yeah – with your buddies, you're going back to the dorm, you're hanging out. In the NFL it's different, which makes it fun when you win and come together as a team. 'Cause you really do have so many different types of guys.

 Alec Baldwin: And I would imagine that your teammates – on one hand people in the pros – like if you go to college, it's assumed under ordinary circumstances – certainly things can change – but under ordinary circumstances you're gonna be there for the four years.

 Andrew Luck: Yeah.

 Alec Baldwin: This is your team; this is your family.

 Andrew Luck: Yeah.

 Alec Baldwin: But in the pros where people move on, where the teams have only – their loyalty to the players only extends so far, do you walk in there and people feel you out, and you earn your way in to that family? Or do they treat you like family, and everybody coheres right away?

 Andrew Luck: No it doesn't happen overnight; it doesn't happen on the first day. I will say the guys –

 Alec Baldwin: People gotta get to know you?

 Andrew Luck: Yeah. You gotta get – I think personalities come out and see what meshes, but – especially during training camp where you're gonna have 100 guys that are in training camp, and then one day you wake up and look and there's only 53 guys left.

 Alec Baldwin: Yeah. Just under half are gone.

 Andrew Luck: Yeah. Half are gone. And then that's when…

 Alec Baldwin: So there's a tension there.

 Andrew Luck: There is a little bit. But once the final cuts are made – which is a – those cut days are very sad days, 'cause you see buddies go; you see guys you built relationships go.

 Alec Baldwin: Guys you admired, maybe.

 Andrew Luck: Yeah. Absolutely. Guys you looked up to; guys that helped you out when you first walked in the door.

 Alec Baldwin: And then they're gone, and that 53 players, that's when everything starts to cohere?

 Andrew Luck: Yeah I think that's when you come together a little more. But still even guys are traded in the middle of the season, guys are cut still, guys are picked up; so it's – it is, it's a lot different to as what you said – than the – you know you're gonna be in college for four years, you know who's in your class, you know who's – guys on the team.

 Alec Baldwin: A lot of familiarity.

 Andrew Luck: Yes. Absolutely.

 Alec Baldwin: Now one thing I think about when I think about the NFL is this idea of the biggest, strongest, fastest men hitting each other in this very violent game. And the rules have been changed in order to protect players; the equipment has evolved, obviously. There's a lot of discussion about concussions and so forth over a lot of brain injury research and issues, and people donating the brains of their deceased, suicide victims – a lot of heavy-duty stuff.

 But I wanna ask you – when you go out there – it's a competitive game, and people wanna win; but at the same time, guys don't necessarily wanna hurt each other they way they wouldn't wanna get hurt either. Do you find it's a weird balance of those two? Because football is as violent now, on one hand, as it was before; but because equipment changes and rule changes it seemed more violent back then.

 Alec Baldwin: Yeah. I don't think guys are any less aggressive when it comes to hitting. I do think –

 Andrew Luck: It sure doesn't look that way.

 Alec Baldwin: No; no it doesn't. And I think maybe there's a thought, too, that all these equipment changes and you feel safer, so you feel like you could hit harder. But there's also, I think, guys are being taught – especially at a young age now, too – how to tackle correctly to save your neck.

 Alec Baldwin: Don't go at the knee.

 Andrew Luck: Yeah how to – and I think there is a mutual respect between players where you're not gonna try and take out someone's Achilles or ACL. But some guys maybe do; I don't know. Some guys play very aggressive, and things happen. We understand; we know what we sign up for, I think, when you play football. And I like it, and I love it. And as a quarterback, I'm 99.99 percent on the wrong side of the hit , and I don't ever get to dish it out, per se. But that's fine with me.

 Alec Baldwin: Right. Let's talk about quarterbacking.

 Andrew Luck: Yeah.

 Alec Baldwin: Let's talk about what it's like to have that job where – I played touch football with my friends until I was 40 years old. We played every weekend during a season in the fall in New York in Central Park; and then that game moved to Los Angeles 'cause almost all those guys I played with were my colleagues in the entertainment business.

 And of course the difference between a sandlot game – the difference between a flag game and a bunch of geezers playing football, the difference between high school and college is the speed and the velocity of the game. And you drop back to pass, and on average how much time do you have to throw the ball?

 Andrew Luck: I think a little – between three and four seconds.

 Alec Baldwin: So you have that much time?

 Andrew Luck: It depends.

 In a perfect world.

 Alec Baldwin: So you have three to four seconds –

 Andrew Luck: Yeah.

 Alec Baldwin: ... to read the defense. You know from the pass play, and you are this architecture student –  we're not gonna let you -  - you know the trapezoids out there – who's going where.

 Andrew Luck: Yes.

 Alec Baldwin: And you have a couple of seconds to drop back and ascertain who you're gonna throw the ball to – who's open, who's more likely gonna be open.

 Andrew Luck: Yup.

 Alec Baldwin: 'Cause sometimes you're throwing the ball to someone anticipating they're gonna be open once the ball get there. You throw the ball to a spot very often.

 Andrew Luck: Very often.

 Alec Baldwin: Unless it's a broken play and they come back to – it's a come-back and then someone's improvising.

 Andrew Luck: Yes.

 Alec Baldwin: What percentage of play would you say do you throw the ball at a spot that's a preordained route? And how many plays is it more improvised? What's the ratio?

 Andrew Luck: Well every play is called; hopefully not to have to improvise. You know, you're gonna call -

 Alec Baldwin: But then you're up against a pro defense.

 Andrew Luck: Yeah. It breaks down probably... a third of the time.

 Alec Baldwin: Who drove you nuts this season in the defensive backfield? What team drove you insane?

 Andrew Luck: Ed Reed on the Baltimore Ravens.

 Alec Baldwin: The Ravens.

 Andrew Luck: Yeah. 'Cause they – you're taught there's a structure to defense. If one guy's blitzing, someone else should be covering his spot.

 Alec Baldwin: Sure.

 Andrew Luck: If you're playing cover three, you three guys dividing the field in a third –

 Alec Baldwin: There's a consequence to everything they do.

 Andrew Luck: Yeah – then you should have a corner on the right, a safety in the middle of the field, and another corner on the left. Ed Reed – he's everywhere; he's down on the box, he's on the line of scrimmage, he's running – he's responsible for the middle zone, and he's all the way over in you know-

 Alec Baldwin: He's a warlock.

 Andrew Luck: Yeah he's a renegade, but he does it, I think, because he understand football so well and studies the offense. He says, 'Okay I know when they're in this formation there's these five –'

 Alec Baldwin: And that's an innate skill people have. It's like a God-given skill they have.

 Andrew Luck: I think it is, but I also think he works at it and watches film –

 Alec Baldwin: Sure. Both.

 Andrew Luck: and knows and studies and has played for so long that-

 Alec Baldwin: But that's what I wanna ask you – how much do you think that people – it's innate? Like when you watch football, you see people do things that other people don't do. You see magic happen. When you – I'm gonna date myself, obviously, 'cause I'm talking about guys from the glory days when I was watching NFL constantly. I got a little less time to watch every Sunday now, but I catch a game every weekend or the highlights.

 But like if you watch Sanders and you watch someone move the way Sanders – where you say, 'Nobody does that.' When you watch Namath – what made Namath Namath in spite all of his notoriety – you never saw somebody throw the ball on the dead run to their receiver. Maynard never had to break stride, and he – and that ball would hit him in the tips of his fingers on the dead run, and he would take it in to the end zone.

 Which a lot of guys have to come back to the ball or whatever or they gotta jump up and do the ballet move for the ball. You see people – and it's work, but do you look at them sometimes and say, 'It's just God-given; it's genetic with some of these people'?

 Andrew Luck: Yeah you –

 Alec Baldwin: 'They just have gifts.' The mental as well as physical.

 Andrew Luck: Yes I think you do. And at least once a week it seems like you're watching film and you stop and say, 'How did that person do that? There's no hope for me in this league.'

 These guys –

 Alec Baldwin: What QBs you grow up admiring?

 Andrew Luck: Peyton Manning. I love Peyton. Still a big fan of Peyton. Steve McNair, who's since passed away; but he was a tough guy who could sling the ball all over the field. So those two guys.

 Alec Baldwin: What do you admire most about Peyton? You had the tough job, obviously, of replacing Peyton.

 Andrew Luck: Yeah. No I always admired how Peyton commanded everything.

 Alec Baldwin: Never quit.

 Andrew Luck: Yeah never quit and was like a general out there.

 Alec Baldwin: 'Got three minutes left, we're down by 18 points. So what?'

 Andrew Luck: Yeah so he was fun to watch. And it seemed like he knew where everybody was going all the time. There's no surprises for him. It was like everything was so well-rehearsed that it happened, or wherever the defense put out there, there was no chance.

 Alec Baldwin: So you're very young. You're how old now?

 Andrew Luck: 23.

 Alec Baldwin: [laughter]

 You're not supposed to laugh at that.

 Alec Baldwin: You're 23. I'm old enough to be your father.

 Alec Baldwin: He's only 23, but Andrew Luck has been working toward this moment for more than a decade. In a minute, we'll hear what kind of football Luck prefers and the strength training he thinks is most important.

 Andrew Luck: I think your core and your ass is where so much power is-

 Alec Baldwin: Yeah, you can't shoot a cannon out of a canoe.

Andrew Luck: -where so much power is generated.

Alec Baldwin: This is Alec Baldwin. You're listening to Here's The Thing from WNYC Radio.

Alec Baldwin: Here's The Thing is supported by the Venture Card from Capital One. Cardholders get two miles per dollar spent on every purchase every day. What's in your wallet? More at

 Alec Baldwin: Growing up, Andrew Luck went to school in Europe.   His father – a former quarterback for the Houston Oilers – led the World League of American Football. NFL's experiment was starting a league abroad. When his father changed jobs and the family landed in Houston, Andrew was ready to play ball himself. At age 14, Andrew attended The Manning Passing Academy in Louisiana.

 Andrew Luck: So the Manning family obviously is sort of the First Family of quarterbacks –

 Alec Baldwin: Of course.

 Andrew Luck: in this league. So I was in eighth grade in Houston, and I went to the camp as a camper... as a kid.

 Alec Baldwin: And it's held in... Louisiana.

 Andrew Luck: This was held – it's in Louisiana. It used to be Hammond, Louisiana was where I went as a camper, and you stayed in these dorms – looked like a Soviet era – like old grey, no A/C...

 Alec Baldwin: In the summertime?

 Andrew Luck: Yeah in the summer –

 Alec Baldwin: No.

 Andrew Luck: It was hot.

 Alec Baldwin: So summer in Louisiana, and you're in the eighth grade.

 Andrew Luck: Yeah in the grade - living in this cinder-block dorms.

 Alec Baldwin: This is one of the early tests of your character.

 Andrew Luck: Yeah, exactly. But we had a blast, and I think I was on cloud nine when Archie Manning came up and said, 'How you doing, son? I played with your dad.' Oh yeah, I'm in Heaven.

 Alec Baldwin: Oh my God.

 Andrew Luck: Shoot me now.

 I've lived. Then you go to college and they find all these college quarterbacks to come down and be counselors. And I think it's a great thing; it's a great way to meet 30 other quarterbacks around the NCAA and get to know them. So I went down the past – my last two years of college and got to know the Manning family obviously a little better through that and a bunch of quarterback from college. So it's a great experience.

 Alec Baldwin: Was [Colin] Kaepernick at that camp?

 Andrew Luck: Kaepernick was at that camp. I got to know Colin there a little bit; a lot of guys – lot of, lot of guys. It's fun. It really is fun. It's – and it's a unique opportunity, 'cause it's not often you're around your peers in a relaxed setting like that.

 Alec Baldwin: When you wanna work on your passing skills – by that I don't mean the timing and reading offenses – the mechanics of your throwing, what's your primary set of exercises and work you do? Did you have a coach? When you got to the pros, did they come in – as they often do – and dissect your throwing motion and get in to the whole mechanics of your throwing again?

 Andrew Luck: Not in the pros.

 Alec Baldwin: They didn't?

 Andrew Luck: I think there's a thought that if you've made it this far, don't change your throwing motion. You've done it –

 Alec Baldwin: You did it.

 Andrew Luck: millions of time.

 Alec Baldwin: So it's not like Tebow where they're coming to you –

 Andrew Luck: No.

 Alec Baldwin: But you're not Tebow, but I'm saying people have the assumption in the pros they wanna strip you down and say, 'Okay let's start all over again.'

 Andrew Luck: No.

 Alec Baldwin: They didn't need to – they didn't feel they needed to re-teach you how to throw the football?

 Andrew Luck: No. Absolutely not.

 Alec Baldwin: Right.

 Andrew Luck: Which I'm very thankful for, 'cause I don't think I would've handled it very well.

 I think quarterbacks are very particular about their own motion, and a little bit anal.

 Alec Baldwin: Sure.

 Andrew Luck: 'This is the way I throw the ball. This is the ways it's –' 'Cause we're a prideful bunch.

 Alec Baldwin: What muscles do you think you had to develop if you wanted to improve when you were younger, when you added 25 pounds, when you wanted to muscle up and strengthen up?  

 Andrew Luck: Uh-huh.

 Alec Baldwin: 'Cause I said to Joe Montana once – when I was doing a film and Montana came to visit the director on the set –

 Andrew Luck: Cool.

 Alec Baldwin: and I had the quickest, most fleeting conversation – it wasn't very real – I said to him – I go, 'What was your strength training?' He said, 'I avoided weights as much as possible. I didn't wanna get muscled up.' He said, 'I took medical tubing, like hose, and I put a strap in a doorway, and I just did the throwing motion over and over again, like a thousand times with this tension thing to strengthen the... rotator and everything.'
 Andrew Luck: The shoulder and rotator cuff. Yeah.

 Alec Baldwin: Well what exercises – do you think you have to strengthen your legs and your back as much as your upper body to throw a football?

 Andrew Luck: I do. I think your core and your ass is where so much power –

 Alec Baldwin: Yeah, 'You can't shoot a cannon out of a canoe,' they say.

 Andrew Luck: where so much power is generated.

 Alec Baldwin: So a lot of leg training.

 Andrew Luck:  A lot of leg training, a lot of core training –

 Alec Baldwin: Weight training or run training?

 Andrew Luck: I hate running. But you have to do it. But I think it's more weight and just rotation. It's almost like golfers – you're a very one –

 Alec Baldwin: And boxing.

 Andrew Luck: And boxing. You're very one-sided.

 Alec Baldwin: It's almost like throwing a right-cross, 'cause you throw that punch you gotta rotate that hip in to the punch.

 Andrew Luck: Yeah and you're stuck – yeah. Absolutely. And you become very one-sided; you're always torquing in the same direction, so making sure you're –

 Alec Baldwin: To your left.

 Andrew Luck: Yeah so you're making sure you're evening out your right side of the body per se. But I – and that's something that I learned more of in college and then realizing how important your lower body is to throwing.

 Alec Baldwin: I would play in sandlot pickup games with my friends, and of course when you play for fun with guys when you're – when I'm in my 30s and 40s just for fun, half the guys bring their own favorite ball.

 And the ball is deflated or inflated to the level they prefer; the ball is scuffed to the level they prefer.

 Andrew Luck: Yes.

 Alec Baldwin: And when you pick up a ball in the NFL – forget about weather conditions – is the ball always a crisp, waxy, brand new ball? Or do they allow you to treat the ball the way you want to for your preference?

 Andrew Luck: I hate the crisp, waxy ball out of the box.

 Alec Baldwin: So do I. Yeah I can't stand it.

 Andrew Luck: I can't stand it. There's a – our equipment managers for the Colts – Frog, T and Danny – three great guys that work with the quarterbacks, they have a top secret protocol for –

 Alec Baldwin: To treat the ball.

 Andrew Luck: treating the balls. And it's secret.

 Alec Baldwin: Sure.

 Andrew Luck: They won't tell me. I don't think they told Peyton when he left–

 Alec Baldwin: I know what it is, buddy. Want me to tell you?

 Andrew Luck: Please.

 Alec Baldwin: It's they pee on it. It's their own urine. They use their own urine to strip the waxy film off.

 Andrew Luck: Who's the baseball player that used to pee on his hands to avoid callouses? It was a Cubs player like – yeah but I know, I've seen that –

 Alec Baldwin: So they have patented top secret – like the formula for Coca-Cola and then the football's treated. But you do treat the ball?

 Andrew Luck: You do, and it –
 Alec Baldwin: And it's not out of the box?

 Andrew Luck: It's not out of the box. And I've seen different stages of it. Like I know they put the balls in the sauna for like a couple minutes. Something –

 Alec Baldwin: They're allowed to do that?

 Andrew Luck: Something about that, I guess.

 Alec Baldwin: The league allows them to treat the ball?

 Andrew Luck: They do. They do, and I –

 Alec Baldwin: Does every team get to use their own ball?

 Andrew Luck: Mm-hmm.

 Alec Baldwin: Like when you come out on offense we go get the box, we go open the crate of your opponent's ball. Everyone brings their own ball on the field as long as it's the approved ball?

 Andrew Luck: Yes. And from what I understand it used to not be that way. It used to be like there's a certain – all the balls for game day were open an hour before, and each team used the same ball. But I think Peyton and Tom Brady sort of – this was before my time –

 Alec Baldwin: Sure.

 Andrew Luck: led a coalition against that and got it changed where teams could use their own balls.

 Alec Baldwin: What about the inflation level of the ball? Does the ball have to be inflated to a certain poundage?
 Andrew Luck: Oh yeah I think it does. And referees check it, and they mark the balls off before the game –

 Alec Baldwin: Sure, the balls have to be approved in one way, but you're allowed to treat the exterior of the ball.

 Andrew Luck: Yeah.

 Alec Baldwin: That's amazing. So when you're there and you're throwing the ball, is it completely unconscious? Or when you throw the ball and you think you're ineffective do you sometimes say to yourself, even at the pro level, that you gotta go back to a basic you gotta remember. You're bringing the ball in behind your ear? What are you gonna do? What's the firing sequence in your mind of throwing a pass?

 Andrew Luck: I think you don't wanna think about it.

 Alec Baldwin: You don't. Ever.

 Andrew Luck: No, you don't. And that's – I shouldn't say ever. When you, if you're going on a string and balls are dying on you, why -  

 Alec Baldwin: What if you're having a shitty day and you're not throwing the ball well?

 Andrew Luck: Yeah, I think that's when you, maybe not during the day, but afterwards –

 Alec Baldwin: How do you hit the refresh button?

 Andrew Luck: You look at the film and you say, “What am I doing different than what I did?"

 Alec Baldwin: And do you see sometimes you did?

 Andrew Luck: Yeah. I think so.

 Alec Baldwin: What did you do differently?

 Andrew Luck: I think I'll look, 'you're dropping the ball too low. And it's elongating your whole wind-up, it's almost like a pitcher now instead of a quarterback. Instead of throwing a football, and that's what's causing you to be late on all your routes. Make sure so that we can practice, you're gonna work on keeping that ball higher and maybe shortening that motion.' So I think you still tweak it every now and then if it's not working out. If you feel like it's inhibiting you from being better.

 Alec Baldwin: For fans, like myself, when we watch you play pro football, and you're doing your job, and you're just humming that ball out there, you're hitting that ball first downs, whatever, and the other guy drops the ball – Does he come back and apologize to you?

 Andrew Luck: Every now and then. Different guys are different. I probably apologize too much for throwing interceptions to the guys on the line cause I know they get fed up when they're blocking their butts off, against some werewolf of a defensive end and they're doing a great job, and oh yeah, their quarterback throws an interception. Good job, QB. Some guys apologize, some guys don't. It's just the nature of the game. We're humans, you know. Human errors occur.

 Alec Baldwin: Let's talk about the season. And I'll talk about it – the season beginning, actually, when the season ends. So your season ended.

 Andrew Luck: Yeah.

 Alec Baldwin: And you guys did not go to the Super Bowl.

 Andrew Luck: Yes.

 Alec Baldwin: And you were eliminated by the – from playing in the Super Bowl how?

 Andrew Luck: We were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by the Ravens – which is no fun. And you don't prepare for the end of the season. 'Cause you're in the play – you wanna go to the Super Bowl, so –

 Alec Baldwin: Sure. You think there's more to go.

 Andrew Luck: Yeah. So you show up Monday in the locker room –

 Alec Baldwin: You got a few more blank pages on your schedule.

 Andrew Luck: You do. You really do. And you show up Monday and it's – guys are cleaning their lockers out and got big trash –

 Alec Baldwin: It's very similar to the film business.

 Andrew Luck: trash bags. You're saying, 'All right, see ya, man. Maybe I'm back next year, maybe you're not.' You don't know, so it's odd. And then I remember sitting around for a couple days saying, 'All right, I gotta get outta town. I gotta – I can't sit around my apartment and leave,' so I went to Sundance Film Festival.

 Alec Baldwin: How was that?

 Andrew Luck: It was awesome.

 Alec Baldwin: Yeah?

 Andrew Luck: It was a nice way to –

 Alec Baldwin: You ski?

 Andrew Luck: No I can't ski contractually; that's a no-no.

 Alec Baldwin: Yeah no motorcycles and ski.

 Andrew Luck: No, but had a great time there. A nice way to sorta get away. It's not the crowd that recognizes football players too much, so it was a nice way to get away – which now I'm blowing my cover, I'm sure, for next year.

 Alec Baldwin: Be careful out here.

 Andrew Luck: But hopefully next year we're in the Super Bowl. I'll travel a little bit... overseas somewhere.

 Alec Baldwin: I was gonna say – do you still have a big for Europe having grown up over there?

 Andrew Luck: I do. I think I have –

 Alec Baldwin: You lived in London, too, right?

 Andrew Luck: I lived in London, Frankfurt, Düsseldorf... some suburbs outside Frankfurt.

 Alec Baldwin: When you go over there, what do you like to do?

 Andrew Luck: See the sights like any other tourist. I think I'm gonna go back and look at all – look at my flash cards.

 Alec Baldwin: Is what you're trying to say is you have a girlfriend over there? Is that what you're trying to say?

 Andrew Luck: The girlfriend's coming with me over there.

 Alec Baldwin: Oh okay. There you go. So there's a couple gondolas with your girlfriend. We get it; we understand what you're saying.

 Andrew Luck: A couple drinks here and there.

 Alec Baldwin: Yeah it's really romantic over there.

 Andrew Luck: Yeah exactly.

 Alec Baldwin: Do a little shopping.

 Andrew Luck: Yeah. But other than that – no shopping. I can't stand shopping.

 Alec Baldwin: But your girlfriend, I mean.

 Andrew Luck: She'll go maybe.

 Alec Baldwin: Yeah.

 Andrew Luck: Maybe.

 Alec Baldwin: Andrew Luck has other things on his mind besides shopping. He wants to relearn German in the off-season, and of course, he's hoping to bring a championship back to Indianapolis.

 Andrew Luck: Still young. I got – hopefully I got some time. And it gives you a little motivation for next season not happening again.

 Alec Baldwin: So there's part of you that really is looking forward to getting back.

 Andrew Luck: Yeah there is. And that'll continue to grow as the off-season sort of goes along and –

 Alec Baldwin: Sure, after a few more gondola trips with that girlfriend of yours. Beautiful.

 Andrew Luck: We'll be sick of each other and ready to go work it out again.

Hosted by:

Alec Baldwin

Produced by:

Emily Botein and Kathie Russo