Are you ready for some football? If so, well, you are in Luck

Yes, it’s that time of year. If you are a football fan, fall brings you great joy. Whether your preference is high school, college or professional and whether you attend the games in person or watch them on television — you have been waiting for a long time and thus you are ready for the games to begin.

Personally, I like all three levels and will attend and watch on the tube. Let’s take a look at what is in store for us, beginning with high school football.

This weekend marked the beginning of the 2019 high school football season as most teams made their debuts last night. Hopewell-Loudon got a jump on everyone else, falling to Van Buren on Thursday night.

Many people enjoy high school football because the players are participating simply for the love of the game. They are not trying to get to the professional level, as many college players are. They are not making a small fortune like the pros. They just love playing football.

I haven’t been to a high school game for a few years. I plan to remedy that this fall. What game(s) I will go to, I’m not sure. Most fans at high school games are there because they have a relative to watch. Be it a player, band member, cheerleader or perhaps, a member of the coaching staff, there is a reason to go.

If you don’t have a relative or neighbor, you should still go. If you do, make sure you take in the whole scene. Watching kids taking part in a sporting event — players, band members, cheerleaders or just students rooting for their team — is my idea of an enjoyable evening.

Most spectators are good fans. They root for their team, applaud the efforts of the band and cheerleaders, and treat the opponents with respect. Unfortunately, a few might make you cringe.

They are the people that question the eyesight and integrity of the officials. They will verbally abuse coaching decisions and player efforts if they miss a tackle, or drop a pass. Fortunately these “fans” are very much in the minority. Do not let them ruin your evening of fun. I will talk more about fans shortly.

The college season actually began last Saturday, as Florida beat Miami 24-20 and Hawaii outlasted Arizona 45-38. Most people are Ohio State fans in these parts, though some root for that team up north.

The Buckeyes will open the Ryan Day era at noon today hosting Florida Atlantic. That “other” team will play Middle Tennessee this evening. It would seem that both schools are starting the season, as most of the big-time universities do, with an opponent that should give them little trouble.

You never know, however. That’s why they play the games!

The NFL will begin next week, leaving this week for fantasy leagues to hold their drafts. I’m in a small (8 guys) “scoring only” league and will draft last due to my past year’s success that some of my friends would call luck.

Hey, it’s not my fault that Patrick Mahomes still was available in Round 10!

In the last couple of weeks I started planning my draft strategy and one of my thoughts was to draft Andrew Luck. He might be available at No. 8, whereas I couldn’t get Mahomes again if I was picking second.

That strategy was shot out of the water this week when Luck announced his retirement from the game at age 29. His retirement will affect a whole lot of people, but the reaction was far wilder that I thought it should have been.

The word leaked out during the Colts third preseason game and the fans reacted as the word spread. Luck was not suited up for the game and was booed as he left the field. I may not be the guy to criticize those fans, as I have never booed anyone in my life, but I likely will do just that.

Andrew Luck has suffered a long list of injuries in his career. They include torn rib cartilage, a lacerated kidney, a concussion and most recently lower leg problems. He literally missed literally the whole season in 2017, only to be voted the Comeback Player of the Year last season. Then he got hurt again this year. Ultimately, he felt like he could not lead the life he wanted to if he continued to play the game. He walked away from a lot of money, but has been excoriated by many who used to cheer him.

Part of the problem was the timing of the move. Some felt like he was walking out on his team (and his fans?) by quitting so close to the start of the season. Even former NFL quarterback Steve Beuerlein suggested that he “owes it to his team” to keep playing through the pain.

One fan removed his Luck jersey as the QB passed him amid the booing last week. I’m not sure what he will do with the jersey, but I hope he gives it to someone who can use it, as opposed to destroying it. Fans can be cruel and this is one of those instances.

I played many sports for a lot of years and never suffered a serious injury. A few sprained ankles — the thought of which still makes me squeamish — was about all. I can’t imagine a lacerated kidney or any type of concussion. Football is a collision sport and the threat of serious injury is a constant.

Admittedly, I am not a Colts fan, but I don’t know how anyone can boo Andrew Luck for his decision. No one knows how much pain he has endured and is still dealing with. He wants to get on with his life, living it as he sees fit. That life will not include football. Andrew Luck has the right to make this decision.

I can choose a different quarterback. I hope the Colts fans will choose to forgive Andrew Luck for his so-called betrayal.

Al Stephenson is a columnist for The Advertiser-Tribune.

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