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Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay speaks to the media after Andrew Luck’s retirement announcement.
Clark Wade, Clark.Wade@Indystar.com

INDIANAPOLIS — Presumably Jim Irsay is grieving. It would construct sense. A lot of Indianapolis Colts followers are grieving gorgeous now. And that’s what Jim Irsay is at coronary heart: the lifelong chief of Colts nation.

And curiously he, relish so many others within the Colts community, is struggling to reckon with the indisputable reality that the face of his franchise is hanging up his helmet and calling it quits. 

They are saying the first stage of misfortune is denial, and while Irsay is never any doubt no longer denying that Luck is retiring, he didn’t appear to prepared to impartial pick up the thought that that Luck is long gone for correct both. In all chance, after wise for about a week that Luck turn into leaving, Irsay’s “misfortune” has evolved to the third stage: bargaining. 

On three separate times all the strategy in which through Saturday evening’s impromptu news conference, the owner suggested he would possibly per chance per chance perchance moreover envision a future in which No. 12 one day returns to the Colts locker room.

The principle turn into unprompted. While talking about Luck’s reasoning — how injuries and recovery from them had sapped the fun out of soccer — Irsay began evaluating this effort to two of the enviornment’s most iconic athletes. In all chance no longer coincidentally, every of them had mounted ancient comebacks of their respective sports activities. 

More Luck:

“We’ve viewed Tiger Woods attain again (from injury) and take hang of the Masters; we’ve viewed Michael Jordan retire and unretire (twice). In this case, we right want (Luck) the very best and maybe that he finds some clarity. One more time, he’ll right be 30 years earlier (rapidly).”

A cramped bit later all the strategy in which during the news conference, Irsay went on to impart how ironic it turn into that ex-Colts coach Chuck Pagano turn into in Lucas Oil Stadium Saturday evening. Luck had highlighted Pagano too, but easiest in reference to having the power to hug the first man he ever known as head coach within the NFL. His NFL existence, in a style, turn into coming full circle. 

But Irsay took their meeting a step further, recalling how Pagano, the novel Chicago Bears defensive coordinator, valiantly battled cancer on his method again to the soccer self-discipline. 

Irsay’s recounting of three comeback tales in a topic of minutes must quiet no longer be pushed apart. Nor must quiet Irsay’s insights. Few folks win had such unfettered access to Luck and his psyche these previous eight years. Few know the battles Luck has waged, each and every mentally physically, and right how a competitor he undoubtedly is. Given all of their time collectively, maybe Irsay can glance one thing in Luck that the 29-year-earlier can’t even glance himself. 

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Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck publicizes his retirement.
Clark Wade, Clark.Wade@Indystar.com

When asked about a most likely return, Luck didn’t precisely slam the door on the likelihood, but he gave it a correct push. 

 “I’m in a position to’t glance the prolonged trudge,”said  the emotional ex-quarterback, “but I very clearly in my mind glance that I acquired’t.” 

Irsay, despite the indisputable reality that, wasn’t prepared to surrender that hope. Don’t misunderstand. He’s no longer pushing Luck to attain again again. He turn into adamant that he didn’t strive and impart Luck out of retiring. He understands that Luck needs his position. And time. Time to heal. Time to earn away. Time to clear his head. 

“He is easiest gonna be 30 subsequent year,” Irsay said. “It’s a transformative effort. It be a worm changing correct into a nice looking butterfly. It’s substantial. He has to alternate and evolve from this as a younger man. And I deem he’s distinct to method that. What which method by approach to his profession as a soccer player stays to be viewed.”

In a lot of words, Irsay says, who’s to impart what’s subsequent for Luck? He is quiet a younger man. His future stays broad birth. If he wished to attain again again, he wouldn’t even must be conscious of rapidly. Quarterbacks win been identified to play into their 40s. Tom Brady is getting to prepared embark on his age forty two season. Luck’s predecessor, Peyton Manning, rode off into the sunset with a Tall Bowl title at age 39. Forty-year-earlier Josh McCown right came out of retirement to play for the quarterback-strapped Philadelphia Eagles. If  Luck does win a alternate of coronary heart, there’s no doubt time.

Bigger than midway through Saturday evening’s news conference, when Irsay turn into within the shatter asked definitively whether he thinks Luck would ever attain again, he didn’t disguise his optimism. 

“You know, I don’t rule it out,” Irsay said. “Because of as like a flash as this thing sort of descended on us, and as mysterious because it turn into coming upon us, it would possibly per chance perchance most likely per chance perchance moreover move the identical method. … I would train it’s imaginable. 

“And (Luck would) be the first to permit you to know that no one knows. Finest time will impart.”

Call it bargaining. Call it wishful thinking. Call it no topic you wish, but right know that by approach to Luck’s most likely return to the franchise and the soccer self-discipline, Irsay is never forever undoubtedly prepared to shut that particular door. 

For these uncommon, Luck’s avenue again would possibly per chance per chance perchance be somewhat easy. Ask Brett Favre. In the NFL, it doesn’t take out of the ordinary to “un-retire.”

Sooner than that will per chance perchance moreover happen, despite the indisputable reality that, Luck will must officially retire. He can and walk will method that by submitting his retirement paperwork with the NFL rapidly. At that time, the Colts can build apart Luck on the reserve/retired list and then let Luck specialize in what occurs subsequent. Would perchance per chance also impartial quiet he ever specialize in he desires to pull a Favre — or a Jordan — the Colts would assist his rights attributable to the two perfect years on his contract. 

To be reinstated, somewhat out of the ordinary all Luck would must method is ship a letter to the commissioner declaring his intent to attain again and preserve up for the paperwork to job.   

And what a story that would possibly per chance be. Imagine for a second, Luck returns to the franchise, leads them to playoffs and joins Chad Pennington as essentially the most fantastic player to ever take hang of AP NFL Comeback Player of the twelve months twice. 

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Insider Jim Ayello and columnist Gregg Doyel impart about Andrew Luck’s retirement announcement.
Clark Wade, Clark.Wade@Indystar.com

Sound crazy, doesn’t it? Nearly as crazy as a 29-year-earlier MVP-caliber quarterback announcing his retirement two weeks sooner than the initiate of a brand novel season.

Follow IndyStar Colts Insider Jim Ayello on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram: @jimayello.