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VOL. 43 | NO. 35 | Friday, August 30, 2019

Luck had Titans number, and they respected him

By Terry McCormick

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Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck greets Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield following a preseason game.

-- A.J. Mast/Ap Photo

The news of Andrew Luck’s sudden retirement from the NFL sent shockwaves throughout the league, and the Tennessee Titans were no exception.

Luck, in his seven-year career, became the Titans’ arch-nemesis, as Tennessee went 0-11 all-time against the Colts star quarterback.

But despite such domination, Titans players had nothing but kind words to say about their rival and how he handled himself on and off the field.

Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota, who, like Luck, knows the issues of being a quarterback struggling with major injuries, was impressed that the Indy QB would take time away from celebrating the Colts’ playoff win over the Titans last year to offer encouragement to Mariota, who was forced to miss the game due to a long list of ailments.

“Last year actually, he took the opportunity after the game, the last regular season game, to talk to me. For me as a young player, that meant a lot,” Mariota said, speaking after the Titans preseason Sunday night outing against Pittsburgh.

“He kind of told me to keep fighting through it, and that it is a journey, and not to worry about the ups and downs and just kind of learn from it. Get healthy as quickly as possible. For a guy who just beat us to get into the playoffs, for him to take time to come say that to me, meant the world.

“For me, I’m happy for him. He seems like he’s in a good place. I have nothing but good things to say about him and wish him all the best.

“I think kind of just like everybody else, I was surprised,’’ Mariota continued. “With my interaction with Andrew over the last few years, he’s such a great guy off the field. Obviously, he’s a great player, but the interactions and just how nice he was as a young guy, I wish him nothing but the best. I know it was a hard decision but he seems like he’s at peace with it.

“Guys that are playing, that’s all you want. You want to be able to go out on your own terms, and I wish him nothing but the best.”

Titans tight end Delanie Walker said that Luck made the best decision, if he felt he could no longer play the game.

“I was surprised, but at the end of the day, when your body is telling you that you can’t play the game, you can’t play the game. He’s one of those players who is honest and is not just going to take money. He felt like he wasn’t going to be able to help the team, and he retired,” Walker said.

Walker added, however, that Colts fans who booed Luck as he left the field Saturday night shortly after the news broke, should have had more respect for their star quarterback, who had given so much to the franchise.

“It’s sad that that the fans would boo somebody like that that helped that team win and put them in great situations being contenders. To boo someone like that, it’s funny, fans think they own us, but you really only own your PSLs. They need to remember that,” Walker explained.

Even the Titans defensive players, who had been tortured by Luck over the years, offered nothing but respect for the Colts star.

“He’s the nicest, kindest guy I ever played against. You hate him because he was always so nice. But the thing is that guy always had great compliments for me, so I wish nothing but the best for him,” defensive lineman Jurrell Casey said.

Safety Kevin Byard wished Luck well, but regrets that the Titans won’t ever get the chance to win against him.

“It’s something we talked about all offseason, wanting to beat Andrew Luck. I think him retiring undefeated against the Titans is something that’s going to be on my mind,” Byard said.

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