The old family friends will meet again in Sunday’s AFC Divisional playoff game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High in Denver. The stakes have never been higher, so even Luck understands and expects to be asked about Manning, the face of the Colts’ franchise for 14 seasons.
Those questions came Wednesday, with Luck at the Colts complex media center lectern. And the first was a bit of a softball, considering he’s answered it before: When playing an elite quarterback, do you feel like you need to take it to another level? Or can you not approach it that way?
“No, I don’t think you approach it that way,” Luck said. “I have not approached it that way. I think for me the approach has always been, ‘Alright, how can I be the best that I can for this team today? What are the coaches asking of me, what do I need to do for my teammates?’ I think vice versa, that’s all the guys in the locker room. What do I need to do today to get the job done and ultimately get the win? I think that’s for me the only way to approach it because you can’t devalue another game on a schedule.”
The next Manning question was also obvious, and one he’s answered before: Is Luck tired of the comparisons to Manning?
“Like I said, the dynamic, it’s part of it,” he said. “Part of the job, I guess. I mean honestly, people don’t ask me too much about it. It’s you guys on the media days, and I would, too. As fans, we love storylines. It seems to be the nature, the sport culture today, so be it.”
A playful question at least got a laugh out of Luck: If it was one-on-one, could (Luck) take (Manning)?
“Basketball?” Luck said with a smile then chuckle. “I don’t know. It’s not worth getting into.”
The fourth-seeded Colts (12-5) are touchdown underdogs against the second-seeded Broncos (12-4). And the questions should be expected considering the status of both quarterbacks and their Colts connection.
Manning is the NFL's only five-time MVP, won Super Bowl XLI with the Colts and owns about every major career passing record in franchise history. But Luck has already surpassed Manning for some short-term Colts marks, including a career-best 4,761 passing yards this season, 33 wins in his first three seasons, 12,957 passing yards since 2012 (most in NFL history in first three seasons), 86 TDs (one more than Manning in first three seasons) and 19 300-yard games, eight more than Manning at the start of a career.
Luck has made the Pro Bowl in each of his three years. He's 2-2 in the playoffs -- it took Manning six years to win two playoff games. And Luck has passed for 1,438 yards in those postseason starts, the most in NFL history in the first four playoff games.
Luck has always been effusive in his praise and admiration for Manning. The third-year pro was once a camp counselor at Manning’s Passing Academy. And their quarterback fathers, Oliver Luck and Archie Manning, have been friends since playing together in Houston in 1982-83.
Will the dads call each other this week?
“I don’t know. That’s a good question,” he said. “I know my dad and Archie (Manning) have a great relationship. Getting to know the Manning family, what a classy family. Good people. I don’t know. If they do, I’m sure they’ll talk some smack to each other or something. Who knows what dads do?”
With that, Luck was off the hook. Another round of Peyton inquiries behind him.
Now, about that “Neard.” Is he sick of the neck beard questions, too?
“I don’t know,” he said, again with a smile. “I know the beard is a bad look. I get that. I hate shaving during the season, so I guess it’s here to stay.”
Asked if not having it presents a chafing issue, Luck laughed and said, “I think it’s razor burn with the chinstrap. It’s uncomfortable.”
Phillip B. Wilson can be found on Twitter (@pwilson24), Facebook and Google+.