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With Andrew Luck, Colts look to keep on in the tradition of Peyton Manning
NEW YORK — Andrew Luck knew exactly where he was heading and the daunting task he faces.
So did Robert Griffin III.
What the NFL draft lacked in surprise and suspense with its top two picks, it certainly delivered in challenges for the league’s newest stars.
Luck, the Stanford quarterback and overall No. 1, heads for Indianapolis where he must replace Peyton Manning, who merely won four MVP awards and a Super Bowl. RGIII answers the call in Washington, where he will try to soothe a devout but highly critical fan base.
“You don’t really replace a guy like that,” Luck said. “You can’t. You just try to do the best you can. Obviously, he was my hero growing up.”
His selection as the top pick was hardly a stunner. The Colts informed Luck last week that Commissioner Roger Goodell would announce his name first. Right behind him was Griffin; no suspense attached to that pick, either.
After being loudly booed at the outset, Goodell told a raucous crowd at Radio City Music Hall that “the season begins tonight, so let’s kick if off.” Then he did, congratulating Luck while the crowd chanted “RG3, RG3.”
Luck left the stage, slapped hands with some fans in Colts shirts and headed to the interview room.
“I realize you could go crazy trying to measure yourself to Peyton Manning every day. That would be an insane way to live,” Luck said. “I know his legendary status, really. Huge shoes to try and fill if you’re trying to do that. … If one day I can be mentioned alongside Peyton as one of the football greats, that would be a football dream come true.”
To get Griffin, Washington dealt a second-round pick this year and its first-rounders in 2013 and ‘14 to St. Louis to move up four spots. But they wound up with the Baylor QB who beat out Luck for the Heisman Trophy.
Dressed in a light blue suit that didn’t quite mesh with Redskins burgundy and gold — and wearing socks that fit the team’s color scheme and proclaimed “GO CATCH YOUR DREAM” — Griffin had some trouble getting the Redskins hat over his braids. He ended up wearing it just a tad crooked while he flashed big smiles for photos.
“Go catch that dream — because a lot of times when you chase something you never get to it,” he said. “So if you say, ‘Hey, I’m going to go catch my dream,’ you’re already telling yourself that you’re going to get it.”
RG3 also sang the team’s fight song during a conference call:
“Hail to the Redskins! Hail vic-tor-y!” Griffin said. “That’s how I felt. It felt that good.”
Less than an hour before Goodell began the draft, Cleveland and Minnesota pulled off a trade in what would become a virtual swap shop, with eight deals on opening night. The Browns moved up just one spot, from fourth to third, to ensure getting running back Trent Richardson of national champion Alabama. Minnesota received picks in the fourth, fifth and seventh rounds and still was in position to get one of the elite prospects in this draft with the fourth spot overall, Southern California offensive tackle Matt Kalil.
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