The Indianapolis Colts should be thanking the football gods for a second chance at respectability—instead, they’re still waiting on their great White hope.

Andrew Luck, the face of the Colts franchise and their star signal-caller, has been dealing with a debilitating shoulder injury since last year, and hasn’t played a down so far this season while he recovers from offseason surgery. Indianapolis saw enough of life without Luck last season that they made a rare August trade to acquire former New England Patriots quarterback and Tom Brady understudy Jacoby Brissett.

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett passes during warmups before an NFL football game against the Seattle Seahawks, Sunday, Oct. 1, 2017, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Stephen Brashear)

The Black counterpart to Brady’s position was generally impressive when called upon to play, flashing mobility, defense recognition and an accurate arm, all of which led to an opportunity in Indianapolis.  

Uncertain of how many games Luck would miss this season, the Colts rolled the dice on Brissett, who has shined as a 23-year-old quarterback in an offense hand-crafted for Luck. In fact, in the two games Brissett has started this season, he’s delivered similar stats to his predecessor, totaling three touchdowns in two starts. Brissett is learning the job on the fly as he digests the intricacies of a new team while serving as a first-time starter. Is it unthinkable that a 28-year-old quarterback with a bad shoulder injury could be usurped by a younger one with clear potential? No. But when you factor in race it becomes unfathomable.

Luck was announced as the heir to legendary Colts quarterback Peyton Manning from the moment he was drafted by the Colts in 2012. He was praised for his intelligence, throwing motion and all the intangibles that make up a great NFL quarterback. His race was never pointed out, obviously, but it was interesting that Luck was crowned the top overall draft choice that season despite Baylor signal caller Robert Griffin III having a better collegiate campaign that year. Luck went first overall, while Griffin went to Washington with second overall pick and eventually earned Rookie of the Year honors.

Luck’s career hasn’t been the superstar story many expected when he was drafted. Luckily, the Colts are sitting on the rights to Brissett. If you take race away, it would make sense for Indianapolis to see what Luck would fetch in a trade, depending how Brissett continues to perform in the starter’s absence. But I have a feeling that even if he delivers a stellar campaign, Brissett would still be the odd man out. Stranger things have happened. The Dallas Cowboys severed ties with an aging Tony Romo to make rookie Dak Prescott the new face of the franchise. But the age gap between Romo and Prescott was dramatically different, unlike Luck and Brissett. The Colts would be wise to take a harder look at Brissett, but will the NFL’s racial tendencies loosen enough for the team to fully commit to him?


Stephen D. Riley

Special to the AFRO