I imagine Andrew Luck is thinking about a Senate run today. Nothing, after all, inspires dreams of grandeur quite as quickly as doing something personal and painful that makes America pick a side, twitch like a worker in a meth lab, and then scream at each other for a few days.
That’s a gift. Knowing that America is an economy based solely on bitching at each other, and doing something that re-inspires that level of social and cultural detestation is very definitely a skill that needs to be nurtured.
All the other angles on Luck’s retirement have been examined by now, by thousands of people totally unqualified to examine the subject because … well, because none of them are Andrew Luck. People ganged up on Doug Gottlieb and Dan Dakich for playing the dogwhistles that are their careers, which is what they wanted all along. Indianapolis Colts fans want refunds for not getting the quarterback for which they re-upped their season tickets. O.J. Simpson will head a class-action suit for all fantasy owners who took Luck. People hate Adam Schefter for reporting a fact because America is developing an anti-fact culture. People have imagined the next 10 years of Luck’s football career that will never be, the next 50 years of his life that they can never live, and why such a seemingly fine fellow would undermine all of football by falling out of need with it.
And yes, I meant “falling out of need.” He probably still loves the game, but football isn’t a love as much as it is an opiate. Nobody can play the game without needing it at some atomic level, because so much of it is about denying that you actually hate a lot of it but can’t give it up. Football is in many ways a penal colony existence: Up until maybe 15 years ago, water was a sign of weakness, and the idea of deriving enjoyment is the tiny core inside a great ball of suffering which few players ever truly get to unwind. Players have to earn the joys they derive from the sport, and that price is typically the denial of joy. Andrew Luck applied his mighty brain to this equation and decided that for all the game’s communal satisfactions, it was still nuts.
So now that Luck has discovered all the power he had simply by leaving his helmet on the peg this close to the most important season in NFL history since last year, working for his dad in the XFL would seem like a lack of ambition. So would being an architect, a TV analyst, a parent, a librarian, a soccer magnate, the executive director of an athletic rehabilitation center (the irony is simply too delicious) and any of the other things that might excite and ennoble him in the years to come. He just showed himself and us that he can make America sit up and bark with a single six-letter sentence (“I’m done”), so the obvious place to take this skill is politics.
I mean, unless he decides he wants to be a member of the X-Men, in which case he doesn’t even have to run for anything. All he has to do is destroy San Francisco, which is always a convenient target for mutants and supervillains, and he’s set for life.
But on the off-chance that he isn’t a mutant, politics seems the perfect avenue. He mobilized the country by exercising a personal choice, and by mobilized the country, we mean “made people who have no skin in the game screech hysterically like they were being flayed alive.” That’s really all it takes these days, because a gift for public policy or a vision for a better and truer America surely isn’t getting it done. Sure, that might not work in concert with Luck’s vision for his own future, but as he just found out, everyone gets a say on his life, he may as well get a say on theirs.
Put another way, he’d have a better chance of talking Denmark out of Greenland and then putting an MLS team in Nuuk.
So, vote Andrew Luck, whether he likes it or not. He did the best thing for him for all the best reasons, and we’ll never let him forget it. And some of us will never let him live it down.
Ray Ratto wonders where we will find the next Civil War captain who writes to his mother. Belichick probably already has one.