Luck and RGIII: Ideal faces of the NFL future

I figured to share an early column — and the reasoning behind it — that I wrote at the NFL draft on Thursday.

Early stories or columns, or “earlys” as we call them in the business, generally are written at events before they end. In fact, often they are written before games even start. Medium- and large-sized newspapers produce several editions, switching content in and out of editions to bring the latest and most poignant news for each edition.

Early editions often hit the presses before the conclusion of events. For those editions, we write early stories. Our early edition covers Sullivan County, so only folks in that location received a copy of my column below. Our remaining three editions received a copy of my column written later in the night about the Jets’ pick.

 

NEW YORK — Against the backdrop of Bounty Gate and fines and concussions and lawsuits, Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III made you feel real good about the NFL on Thursday night at Radio City Music Hall.
They even left behind a sweet scent inside college football’s own cesspool of lying and cheating and soul-selling for wins. Now they will brighten the NFL, a prospect that surely will help Roger Goodell sleep at night.
The league is sturdy enough to thrive amid the Saints’ bounty scandal. It will thrive amid rule-changes designed to reduce head injuries, and certainly thrive while lawyers argue over whether former players got a raw deal.
But Luck and Griffin certainly add a brilliant sparkle to the league. They are as polished a quarterback tandem as you will see atop the draft board. How easy to picture Luck and the Colts vs. Griffin and the Redskins contending for Super Bowls in the near future. Little imagination is needed to see a Colts-’Skins showdown for the Lombardi Trophy down the line.
They even have names fit for headline writers and marketers: Luck, RGIII.
Yet they bring so much more than arms and legs and minds. They bring personalities, Luck the awe-shucks gunslinger, Griffin the wide-smiling pass-run threat.
When Luck spoke in the interview room after being selected, he sounded like his boyhood idol, the fellow he replaces in Indianapolis. He is Peyton Manning without the résumé, humble and accommodating and appreciative. It was almost as if another Manning brother had been unveiled, a neat combination of Peyton and Eli with a dose of Archie for good measure.
“I’m truly honored and humbled to represent the team and the city,’’ Luck said, sounding a lot like Manning’s memorable goodbye speech to the Colts and Indy. “I will do it to the best of my ability.’’
Then he talked about rounding up his receivers and getting to work with them as quickly as possible. Sound familiar? “I realize you don’t replace a guy like that,’’ Luck said of Peyton. “If one day I’m mentioned alongside Peyton Manning, it would be a dream come true.’’
On this night, he was mentioned alongside Robert Griffin III, and that was just fine. The guy with the colorful socks and electric skills made it to the interview room a little while later. Griffin, like Luck, will be asked to resurrect a team that has plenty of missing parts. But Griffin seems up to the task of adding a fourth contender to the ultra-competitive NFC East. He was, ironically, a fan of Peyton Manning’s new team growing up, watching Washington coach Mike Shanahan do his thing in Denver. Now Shanahan gets the quarterback he’s been wishing for since he took on the task of building the Redskins.
“I play quarterback first,’’ Griffin said referring to his explosive running skills. “When there’s nothing there, then I try to make something happen.’’
He will make something happen in Washington, in the NFL. On Thursday, he followed Luck to the stage. But they really arrived side-by-side, two future stars, two gentlemen of the suddenly improved NFL.
kgleason@th-record.com; Twitter: @th_KevinGleason

 

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