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Colts likely to have luck on their side

Sports wrap-up with Bruce Penton

With any luck, the forgettable National Football League season that was 2011 for the Indianapolis Colts won't be repeated any time soon.

With any luck, all-star quarterback Peyton Manning should be back in 2012 after missing the entire 2011 season following neck surgery.

And in Andrew Luck, the likely Colts' No. 1 pick in this April's college draft, Indianapolis will have its quarterback of the future and should be able to seamlessly move from one future Hall of Famer (Manning) to another potential superstar (Luck).

The 21-year-old Luck has been the consensus No. 1 pick ever since he was a third-year collegian at Stanford. He's tall, super intelligent, has a rifle for an arm and is a proven winner, having led the Cardinal to a record of 31-6 over his three seasons.

All season long in the NFL, fans of downtrodden teams were heard urging their teams to "Suck for Luck" - in other words, play badly enough that their record would give them the first pick in the 2012 draft.

When Manning went down for the season following his neck surgery, few fans figured the Colts - a pre-season playoff favourite had Manning been healthy - to fall so far so fast. They wound up with a record of 2-14, locking up the top pick and, in all likelihood, Andrew Luck's services for the next decade or so.

Two other teams were in contention in the Suck for Luck sweepstakes. St. Louis Rams won only twice, and Minnesota Vikings were 3-13, but only the Vikings would seemingly need to draft a quarterback. The Rams used the first pick in the 2010 draft to take Sam Bradford, a quarterback whose credentials at the time were close to what they are this year for Luck.

In Bradford's rookie year with the Rams, he took them to respectability (one game away from a playoff spot), but Year 2 was a disaster.

In all probability, Luck won't be thrown into the NFL fire as Bradford was with the Rams. Manning is good for a couple more seasons and the Stanford grad will be better in the long run for having a couple of seasons to learn the pro game under Manning the Master.

Colts fans, although they didn't enjoy the 2-14 season one bit, will come to appreciate the short-term pain for the long-term gain that Luck's talents promise.

Norman Chad of the Washington Post, complaining about the downfall of the Washington Redskins franchise: "For 6 1/2 years, the primary voice for the team's player personnel decisions was a chap by the name of Vinny Cerrato. If Vinny Cerrato ran a 7-Eleven, within two years they'd be open four hours a day."

Janice Hough of "MLB has officially reinstated Manny Ramirez from the voluntary retirement list. Although any team taking a chance on signing him is probably doing the baseball equivalent of marrying a Kardashian - it's exciting at first, it's a lot of media attention, and it will probably blow up in your face."

The Globe and Mail's Bruce Dowbiggin, on Leafs' GM Brian Burke's ongoing feud with the media, suggesting he should spend more time trying to improve his hockey club: "Trading bon mots and bombshells with the vast collection of second guessers and pack followers is not the pursuit of a serious general manager. Especially when said team is several spoons shy of a table setting."

T.J. Simers in the Los Angeles Times, talking about the lacklustre play of Lakers' centre Andrew Bynum: "The next time he acts as if he cares will be his first. He gets more than $11 million this year, whether he goes all out or not, and much more for years to come as long as he remains 7 feet tall."

Headline at "Barkeep, give me an Alex Ovechkin - that's a White Russian on ice with no cup."

Jerry Greene, "What do you suppose is wrong with Barry Bonds's mansion? Our government orders him to spend 30 days there, and he wants to appeal the decision. Maybe it's drafty."

Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: "Just eight months after Peyton Manning's wife gave birth to twins, Dan Orlovsky - the Colts' latest QB - became the father of triplets. Top that, Andrew Luck."

A sports prediction for 2012, from Mark Whicker of the Orange County (Calif.) Register: "January: Texas signs Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish but stipulates that he must change his name to Y'all Darvish."

Steve Schrader of the Detroit Free Press, on 89-year-old Betty White doing the ESPN intro for the final "Monday Night Football" broadcast in December: "Which makes her the oldest performer on 'MNF' since Brett Favre."

Another one from Perry: "Power forward Kris Humphries - Kim Kardashian's estranged ex - is back with the New Jersey Nets after signing a one-year contract. Alas, only the first 72 days are guaranteed."

Len Berman of, on threatened protests in Montreal because Canadiens coach Randy Cunneyworth doesn't speak French: "Nobody knew what Casey Stengel was saying, either, and nobody picketed Yankee Stadium."