By Tony Massarotti, 98.5 The Sports Hub
Tom Brady was 35 years old when Andrew Luck came into the NFL, 42 now that Luck is going out. And if Brady is smart, he will look at Luck, who is still a very young man, and recognize the biggest difference between him and the unfulfilled former quarterback of the Indianapolis Colts.
And the coach.
In this case, the latter begets the former, which brings us to this: how different would the career of Luck been had he possessed Bill Belichick as a coach and general manager, the way Brady has? It is a question for which there is obviously no answer, not really, though we can take an educated guess. Brady vs. Belichick is one of the greatest debates of this Patriots dynasty – is Brady or is it Bill? – and many rest on the side of the quarterback. Many also reside with the coach. But if you were and are a Brady guy more than a Bill guy – and I am – the case of Andrew Luck provides the simplest case of the environment making all the difference.
Luck? Oh, he is smart, like Brady is, and he is faster, stronger, more physically gifted. Maybe he had some of the intangibles and maybe he did not. But what he lacked, for certain, was a coach and general manager who would have understood his limits and his strengths, who would have protected him far better than the Indianapolis Colts ever did and who never would have allowed him to become a human pinata. Belichick would have gotten the most out of Luck, the way he does most everyone, and he never would have allowed Luck to become the latest example of untapped potential, no matter what Luck during his time with the Colts.
Whatever that was, after all, Luck could have been so much more.
Think about it: if Belichick had acquired or inherited Luck with the first pick in the draft – hell, if he acquired him in the sixth round, the way he did Brady – he would have understood the challenge. Unlike former Colts GM Ryan Grigson, who left Luck without much of an offensive line during the earliest part of his career, Belichick would have handled it differently. He would have drafted better and coached better, because we all know that no quarterback is worth a damn if he is battered to the point he becomes gun shy or traumatized.
Or, in this case, worse – to the point where he becomes repeatedly injured, physically and mentally, so much so that he lost any real desire to play the game at all.
Brady? Oh, he has had reasons to be angry at Belichick over the years, from the wide receiving corps to the defense to the drafting of his apparent successor, but there haven’t been many occasions, if any, when Brady could have argued abandonment. Not really. Not the way Luck can and now does. For the most part, Brady has been treated like the platinum commodity he is, shielded from needless hits, guarded as if he were the Kraft family treasure.
Andrew Luck, on the other hand, never really got the chance.
And the chance, more than anything else, is what Tom Brady should be most grateful for.