Luck admits replacing Manning, his 'hero,' is impossible
NEW YORK - New Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck admits he could never replace Peyton Manning, his football idol growing up.
The Stanford signal-caller was chosen with the No. 1 overall pick by the Colts in the NFL Draft on Thursday and inherits the starting spot now that Manning has left town.
"Peyton Manning, arguably the greatest ever," Luck told reporters at Radio City Music Hall in Manhattan, site of the draft. "He was my football hero growing up.
"I realize you don't really replace a guy like that. Those shoes to fill are huge. I'm not going to go crazy trying to do everything that Peyton did. I realize we're different personalities.
"So I'll put my best foot forward and try to work hard every day. If one day I can be mentioned alongside Peyton in quarterback history, it would be a football dream come true."
No quarterback has come into the league with as much fanfare -- or pressure -- since Manning was taken by the Colts in the 1998 draft.
Manning led the Colts to the Super Bowl title in 2007 and was a four-time NFL Most Valuable Player. But several neck operations, a $28 million bonus payment due, and Luck's availability made the 36-year-old quarterback expendable.
Future first-ballot Hall of Famer Manning was signed as a free agent by the Denver Broncos in the offseason.
Indianapolis had said earlier they would select Luck, a classic drop-back passer. The Heisman Trophy runner-up said he has not heard from Manning about coping with the pressure of running the show in Indianapolis.
"I reached out to him for advice when I came back to school for my senior year, but I haven't really talked to him since then," said Luck, who led a Stanford offense that scored 40 or more points 17 times with him as the starter.
Luck's father Oliver was a quarterback with the NFL Houston Oilers for five years in the 1980s and is now the athletic director at West Virginia.
"He's been great," Luck said of his father. "He's never been too overbearing in the athletic world, even though I think he went through a lot of similar experiences. He sort of let me figure out things for myself.
"He's been great to lean on, especially if I have a question or getting emotionally highjacked about something. Whatever it might be, he brings a great perspective to everything.
"I feel very fortunate to have him not only as a father but sort of an encyclopedia."
Luck threw for 82 touchdowns and just 22 interceptions in 38 games at Stanford. In each of his final two years, he completed more than 70 percent of his passes.
A quick turnaround is unlikely as the once-proud Colts were an NFL-worst 2-14 in 2011 with Manning sidelined the entire season.
When asked what his first purchase will be with his new fortune, Luck said, "I'm not sure."
"I've got to get an apartment or a house or something, so I'll start there," he said.
(Reporting By Steve Ginsburg; editing by Larry Fine)