Remember 2011? That’s the year the Indianapolis Colts finished with an abysmal record of 2-14.
Surely you remember 2017. The Colts – and their fans –suffered through a 4-12 season.
Those two forgettable years preceded, respectively, the drafting of Andrew Luck and the return of Andrew Luck. And the two seasons that followed demonstrated just how much he meant to the franchise.
In 2012, with the rookie playing quarterback, the underdog Colts inspired us with an 11-5 season.
Last year, with Luck returning from a missed year and shoulder surgery, the blue and white thrilled us by winning 10 regular season games and reaching the second round of the playoffs.
A pattern persisted during the Luck years in Indy: When he played, the Colts usually won; when he didn’t, they usually lost.
And he made memories to last a football fan’s lifetime. Here are a few:
• Who could forget the amazing playoff victory at Lucas Oil Stadium against the Kansas City Chiefs in 2014?
In the third quarter, the Chiefs led 38-10, and it appeared the Colts were doomed. Then Luck worked his magic, throwing three touchdown passes, scooping up a fumble and diving across the goal line for another TD. The Colts won 45-44 in the second-biggest comeback in NFL playoff history.
• In his rookie season, Luck gave a preview of the excitement he would generate by leading the Colts to a victory in Tennessee, completing a pass for the winning touchdown in overtime. The game was a harbinger of bad things to come for the division-rival Titans, who were 0-12 against the Colts in games Luck started.
• Luck’s most dominating performance might have been a 2014 game in Jacksonville, when No. 12 completed 31 of 39 passes for 370 yards and four touchdowns, embarrassing a proud Jaguars defense in a 44-17 Colts victory.
Yes, Luck was outstanding — not just on the field but off, too. He was approachable, personable and introspective, as those who attended Colts camp at Anderson University can attest.
He got involved in the community. He showed his passion for the game.
But that passion, worn down by a continual cycle of injury, pain and rehab, eventually eroded. Few people knew just how much until news leaked Saturday that Luck would retire from football at the age of 29.
In a tearful press conference that night after Indy’s preseason game with the Bears in Lucas Oil, Luck confirmed that he was hanging up his cleats.
Colts fans reacted initially with denial, shock and anger. But most, ultimately, will understand and respect Luck’s decision.
As time passes, we should remember Andrew Luck, the Colts quarterback, less for his premature departure from the game and more for the excitement and inspiration he brought to fans here in Anderson and across the state.