Loverro: Five years later, Luck down, Grif­fin likely out.

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - THOM LOVERRO

They were per­haps the great­est one-two quar­ter­back punch ever to come out of col­lege.

Be­tween them in col­lege, they won ev­ery award pos­si­ble — Heis­man Tro­phy, Davey O’ Brien Award, the (Archie) Manning Award, the Wal­ter Camp Award, the Maxwell Award, Archie Grif­fin Award, As­so­ci­ated Press Col­lege Player of the Year — a tro­phy case full of hon­ors be­fore ei­ther stepped onto the field as an NFL quar­ter­back.

The first one se­lected in the 2012 NFL draft was so her­alded that the team that drafted him — the In­di­anapo­lis Colts — let one of the great­est quar­ter­backs in NFL his­tory walk in Pey­ton Manning walk away so the new col­lege su­per­star would have a place un­der center in his first pro­fes­sional game.

The sec­ond one, picked next in the draft, was so cov­eted by the Wash­ing­ton Red­skins that they traded away not one, not two, but three first round draft picks and a sec­ond rounder just for the op­por­tu­nity to se­lect him with the No. 2 pick.

An­drew Luck and Robert Grif­fin III were go­ing to be the dy­namic duo of the NFL, the fu­ture of the game, chang­ing the po­si­tion and rewrit­ing the record books.

For­mer Colts team pres­i­dent Bill Po­lian told owner Jim Ir­say that ei­ther Luck or Grif­fin would “lead you to the promised land.”

Be­fore the draft, Colts gen­eral man­ager Ryan Grig­son said, “Both guys have tremen­dous in­tan­gi­bles and their

skill sets are out­stand­ing. I don’t see how ei­ther of them are not suc­cess­ful in this league.”

But here we are, five years af­ter both made their NFL de­buts, and nei­ther has led any team to the promised land. In fact, the promise of Robert Grif­fin III has all but dis­ap­peared, and now it ap­pears that the promise of An­drew Luck may be in jeop­ardy as well.

Luck’s fu­ture is murky be­cause of his health af­ter un­der­go­ing shoul­der surgery in Jan­uary. He has opened train­ing camp on the phys­i­cally un­able to per­form list, and spec­u­la­tion is Luck won’t be on the field when the Colts open the reg­u­lar sea­son.

“We want to make sure we han­dle the process right with An­drew, and con­tin­u­ing to do the things the doc­tors and train­ers have told him to do, and we’re go­ing to follow that process,” Colts gen­eral man­ager Chris Bal­lard told CBS.com. “And as for every­one say­ing An­drew is down, well, ev­ery sea­son is spe­cial in my mind, You don’t ever want to take th­ese for granted. They’re too hard to come by. So we’ll do every­thing we can to put a team on the field that will com­pete their butts off and play win­ning foot­ball.

“He’s go­ing through his throw­ing pro­gram right now, making sure he’s got his mo­tion back right and the next step is get­ting him to prac­tice,” Bal­lard said. “And once we get him to prac­tice we’ll keep tak­ing steps from there.”

The un­cer­tainty of the process, though, has raised fears that the quar­ter­back’s re­cov­ery is not go­ing well.

“Right when the doc­tors say he’s ready to roll, then that’s the date,” In­di­anapo­lis coach Chuck Pagano told re­porters. “There is no time­line. It was yes­ter­day for all of us, but that’s not re­ally the case. So th­ese things take time, and it’s a process. Our train­ers are do­ing a great job and An­drew is do­ing a great job. We’re go­ing to lis­ten to those guys, but the last thing we want to do is rush him or any of our play­ers back too soon and have a set­back. So we’re go­ing to be dili­gent in the process.”

The process — not ex­actly the promise.

Luck ap­peared to be try­ing to talk him­self back into the promised land.

“I will be bet­ter than I was coming into this,” Luck told re­porters last week. “I’ll be bet­ter coming out of it. I know that. I don’t know what day it’s go­ing to be. I don’t know what week. I don’t know when it’s go­ing to be, but I def­i­nitely will be.”

If Luck is bet­ter than be­fore, then maybe he will de­liver the suc­cess that was promised. He has played well to date — a three-time Pro Bowler with 132 ca­reer touch­downs, 68 in­ter­cep­tions, 19,078 yards pass­ing. But af­ter making the play­offs his first three years in the league, the Colts missed the last two, with 8-8 records, and Luck missed much of the 2015 sea­son with a shoul­der in­jury.

Still, the Colts in­vested in Luck’s promise last sea­son with a $140 mil­lion con­tract ex­ten­sion. If his health is good, he has time yet to ful­fill his promise.

Grif­fin? It is so over. Af­ter his glo­ri­ous rookie 2012 sea­son that led the Red­skins to the NFC East divi­sion ti­tle, he suf­fered a sec­ond torn knee lig­a­ment and has never quite re­cov­ered. Worse, Grif­fin has proven to be a diva with a mis­guided sense of be­ing vic­tim­ized.

Af­ter his time with Wash­ing­ton ended in 2015, Grif­fin signed with the Cleve­land Browns, where he per­formed mis­er­ably, ap­pear­ing in just five games, throw­ing for 886 yards, two touch­downs and three in­ter­cep­tions.

He has been look­ing for work this sea­son, and found doors slam­ming through­out the NFL. Last week, the Los Angeles Charg­ers brought Grif­fin in for a work­out be­fore ul­ti­mately trad­ing for Buf­falo’s Cardale Jones. And de­spite beg­ging for a work­out with the Bal­ti­more Ravens, the team pub­licly said it was not plan­ning on get­ting in the RGIII busi­ness.

Grif­fin, of course, re­sponded with more vic­tim im­pact state­ments, his lat­est coming via Twitter: “They stabbed you in the back? It’s ok. They lied to you? It’s ok. They used you? It’s ok. Keep work­ing. Keep push­ing. Over­come it all.”

While Luck may not be as des­per­ate, the promise of the great­est onetwo quar­ter­back tan­dem to come out of col­lege and en­ter the draft to­gether has def­i­nitely come back down to earth.

● Thom Loverro hosts his weekly pod­cast “Cigars & Curve­balls” Wed­nes­days avail­able on iTunes, Google Play and the re­Volver pod­cast net­work.

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