Luck will sell Colts tickets, but won't make fans forget No. 18

August 13, 2012
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So are Indianapolis Colts fans ready to forget about Peyton Manning yet?

Well, maybe not, but Andrew Luck’s performance on Sunday probably put Manning a bit more in the rearview mirror of Colts fans’ collective consciousness.

Luck’s stellar preseason debut against the St. Louis Rams Sunday isn’t so much about making people forget about Manning—Indianapolis will never forget No. 18—as much as it is getting the team’s fan base focused on the future.

It won’t be an easy task.

It shows what Luck and the Colts are up against when the rookie throws a 63-yard touchdown pass on his first play from scrimmage, and an entire fan base and the local press contingency seem to scream, “Just like Peyton did it,” noting that Manning threw a TD on his first preseason play of his rookie year. It’s sure to be the first of many on-fieldcomparisons between Luck and Manning, and the Luck-era Colts and Manning-led Colts.

On Sunday, Luck completed 10 of 16 passes for 188 yards and two touchdowns. Already this morning, ESPN’s Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic were asking if Luck’s rookie Colts teams will win more games than the team did in Manning’s rookie campaign. The type of endless comparison—to one of the greatest to ever play quarterback—that Luck will face is not fair. But that’s the shadow the Stanford grad was thrust into.

While Luck’s focus is squarely on winning games, the front office is set on winning back fans—some still annoyed that Manning was cut loose after last season and allowed to sign with the Denver Broncos. Others not yet convinced that the new regime brought in by Colts owner Jim Irsay will bounce back after last year’s 2-14 debacle.

The immediate challenge involves trying to sell out Lucas Oil Stadium for the regular season home opener Sept. 16. There are still more than 1,000 tickets available, but after light from Luck’s star peeked through Manning’s long shadow on Sunday, there will probably be a lot less in a couple days.

When the cameras have been off and the pens put away at the team’s training camp in Anderson this month, Colts officials—from coaches to public relations folks—have gushed about their new quarterback.

Colts officials have been careful not to put too much pressure on Luck, but have been eager for the team’s fans to see what they’ve got. On Sunday, Colts fans got their first sneak peak. Today, Colts officials hope that starts to translate into sales.

Is one preseason game likely to convert all the doubters into loyalists? No way.

And let’s not get carried away. The Rams defense wouldn’t ever be confused for the Steel Curtain and could finish in the bottom half of the NFL this year.

Still, Luck didn’t make any major mistakes and never put his team in a hole. After a year of watching poor Curtis Painter, that’s important for Colts fans to see.

“The volume of calls is definitely a lot higher after yesterday’s game,” said Larry Hall, Colts vice president of ticket operations, when I talked to him Monday morning.

While Luck’s performance likely helped, Hall said just having the Colts game on television Sunday—with the stadium roof and window open—helps sell tickets.

“Having the game on TV,” Hall said, “lets people know it’s football season again.”

As for expectations? Colts officials are clear about one thing.

“We expect to sell out every game,” Hall said.

Now it’s time to see if that expectation holds true, and if Luck’s star continues to burn bright.

  • Faith in the team.
    It wasn't just Luck that got me excited yesterday, it was the whole team, and the new coach, and the attitude that was displayed. I doubted Irsay and some of his decisions, and while it will be some time before we know how they will all play out, my gut was telling me yesterday that my doubt was misplaced. I am not ready to buy tickets yet, but I am a lot closer than I was a month ago.
    • Mr. Positive
      It's obvious the writer is no Colts fan. Look at the headline for his past two stories, which could have been very positive pieces. Good for Andrew. Go blue!!
    • He only needs 2
      All Andrew has to do is win TWO super bowls, and then he'll be in his own shadow. No pressure there, right? Manning won one (you'd think he'd won 6) and if Luck gets two, everyone will look @ Manning with appreciation, but not the benevolence of today. Love Manning, love Luck. We're damn fortunate to have had them both. Remember Mike Pagel and Art Schlichter everyone? How soon we forget. :)
      • Exciting
        I'm a season ticket holder. The energy and execution by players and coaches looks promising. The block Reitz made to allow Brown to run untouched into the Ram's defensive back fiels showed each player doing his job on that play. Luck was a little off target on a few passes, and receivers dropped a few more must catch passes. Nice to get those third and one first downs. The offensive plays showed a few misdirection routes which looked impressive. A super practice game for the Colts!
      • 2-14 Debacle
        That 2-14 debacle was courtesy of a bad coach, or more likely, practically no coach at all. A good coach would have brought us maybe a 6-12 season but no Andrew Luck. Jim Caldwell relied totally on Peyton Manning - at least to coach the offense that is. When he wasn't in there last year, Caldwell was lost and clueless and it was a good move on Irsay's part to cut him loose. I like Pagano's winning attitude and in the pre-season, no less. The Colts and fans have been blessed to have Luck available after an unlikely 2-14 run. What are the chances of that, unless it was pre-arranged somehow, which I doubt? Not a conspiracy theorist here. Plus it's not going to take 2 Super Bowls. Give it a year or two and this will no longer be Peyton Manning's team although I really miss that guy. It will be Andrew Luck's team. Manning will get his well-deserved 15 minute standing o when the Broncos come to Lucas Oil next year. Then Colts fans will root as hard as ever for a win over the Broncos. It will be a beautiful thing and show what a class act the local fans are.
        • Correction
          Oops. I meant a 6-10 season. Look for a 10-6 season this year, and maybe better!
        • Colts -WOW
          We have a new team and most want to support their great efforts. Payton is gone, it's time the media has learned that we have a good, local team. Let's stress them and get off of the past. Go Colts.
        • Colts fans whine
          @Adam if tomorrow doesn't make you want to buy tickets find another team to root for. I'm tired of hearing colts fans first complain that Irsay let Manning go when they had no idea how fortunate they were to get Luck. Now we hear people backpedaling and saying they are excited but they need to see more?? how about realize how exciting a team on the rebound can be with new players and get on board before all the 'indy bandwagoners' as usual do when they require a 10+ win team before they show any interest. Any other football city would be excited and knkow what they have except indy. Look at how many teams have searched for over a decade without finding a true franchise qb. Instead, all indy fans want to do is buy manning bronco jerseys and complain about letting a 36 year old qb with a couple mediocre seasons left in him go.
        • One more thing
          Manning has been around Indy how many seasons now before getting let go??....and Indy fans still can't spell his first name right? PEYTON Andew Luk i'm sure will have few bad games and the true colors of indy fans will show. they only care when everything is going great.
        • Peyton
          If not for Bob Sanders and a heroic defensive surge in the 2006 playoffs, Luck would only have to win ONE Super Bowl to be in his own shadow!

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