For many NFL fans, only losses will bring Luck

By Antonio Gonzalez

Associated Press

Published: Friday, Oct. 21 2011 12:00 a.m. MDT

Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck gestures during a NCAA college football news conference in a trophy room on the Stanford campus in Stanford, Calif., Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2011 in preparation for Saturday's game against Washington.

Paul Sakuma, Associated Press

Enlarge photo»

STANFORD, Calif. — The last couple of weeks have been brutal for Nick Wright and his followers. The lifelong Kansas City Chiefs fan and current radio host has watched, much to his dismay, as his beloved NFL team did the last thing he wanted them to do.

The Chiefs actually won — twice.

"We were on the cusp and about to go full throttle with something great," said Wright, who hosts an afternoon drive-time show on 610-KCSP. "They really took the wind out of everything."

While his logic might seem backward, Wright is not alone in his feelings. For fans in places where the playoffs will likely never come this season, about the only thing left to cheer for is more failure.

Waiting at the end of the most miserable year in pro football is Andrew Luck, the Heisman Trophy favorite from Stanford who turned down a chance to be the NFL draft's No. 1 pick to return for one more season. He is considered almost unanimously by scouts as the best quarterback prospect in years, drawing comparisons to Peyton Manning and even John Elway out of college, exceeding both with hype in the Internet age.

Beleaguered fans, dreaming of a franchise-changing quarterback, have even come up with a slogan: "Suck for Luck."

"He is so far ahead of every quarterback coming out of college in more than a decade and it's not even close," NFL draft consultant Gil Brandt said. "He can take a team to the Super Bowl. Looking at his makeup, there's nothing not to like."

What makes Luck such a can't miss? Start with the perfect pedigree for the position.

He's the son of former NFL quarterback and current West Virginia athletic director, Oliver Luck. He has all the physical tools: a strong arm, fleet footwork and precision passing. His work ethic has drawn praise and so have his smarts.

Luck earned valedictorian honors at his Houston high school and will have an architecture degree from Stanford this spring. He matured under the tutelage of former Stanford coach and NFL quarterback Jim Harbaugh and has been running a pro-style system with all the same vocabulary of NFL offenses for three years.

"I would venture to say he's doing as much, if not more, than most NFL quarterbacks at the line of scrimmage," said current Cardinal coach David Shaw, the former offensive coordinator.

Luck has thrown for 1,719 yards with 18 touchdowns and three interceptions this season — with two of those turnovers coming on tipped balls by his receiver — to lead No. 7 Stanford (6-0) to the nation's longest winning streak at 14 games entering Saturday's matchup against No. 22 Washington (5-1).

Luck has been given complete autonomy calling plays when the offense runs a no-huddle system, responsibilities almost unheard of for a college quarterback, and rare even in the pros. Shaw has run out of words to describe what Luck is doing on the field, so he points his index fingers apart on the table to explain what he sees on film.

"It's just mathematically funny. You would say there's no way he gets the ball from here to there before this guy can go from here to there," Shaw said, moving his hands together to show the defense closing. "It's just phenomenal. There's about three of those in each game you can't coach. He's one of the few guys on the planet that can do it."

Nothing might say more about Luck's talent than the fact some fans want their teams to tank for him.

Chris Joseph, who runs a popular blog called FinsNation, didn't know how to act Monday night when Miami played the rival Jets. There is not a more hated team for most Dolphins fans than the Jets, although a victory would've meant taking a step back in the race for the No. 1 pick.

The only relief came at the end of the night when the Dolphins remained winless.

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