Notes: Luckless NFL

LuckAndrew Luck’s shock retirement on Saturday set up an unprecedented situation for Apples & Oranges. Never before has a quarterback this good ended his career after only six seasons.

It is a particular cruelty of a sport as violent as football that even the greatest careers can be cut short by injury. The most similar cases to Luck’s are running backs Gale Sayers and Steve Van Buren — both multitalented offensive players whose bodies broke down before they played 100 games.

Luck doesn’t quite measure up to those two, but his early production puts him in the top tier of quarterbacks. With no late-career decline phase, his per-game offensive average is higher than any other QB, except for Aaron Rogers, who is still playing. His career total is low, but the extremely high average more than makes up for it, with only three signal-callers having higher combined rating, and only Payton Manning among modern ones.

There is a batch of current quarterbacks who will likely finish ahead of Luck, but for now, he serves as a sort of a harbinger for the higher-production QBs that are redefining the NFL.

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