Speed Read: No Dumb Luck
He nailed the Wonderlic, settled Catan, and tackled a book club. How Andrew Luck became the NFL’s biggest nerd.
The tour guide. During the season, NFL players are frequent flyers with a demanding road-trip travel schedule that fans them across the country and back in a matter of days, jaunts more business than pleasure. But if Andrew Luck’s along for the road trip, you might be in for a surprise treat—a free history lesson! Per a Bleacher Report story, the Stanford grad quizzed teammates on Big Ben—the bell, not the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback—and more during the Colts’ trip to London last season. Do you know how many panes of glass are in the bell’s tower? Luck does.
The Wonderlic whiz. One hurdle at the NFL Draft Combine each year comes in the form of the Wonderlic test, a 12-minute exam covering everything from logic to math and vocabulary questions. Indy’s eventual first-overall draft pick in 2012 scored a 37, putting him in the 98th percentile on the 50-question test that got its start in the NFL in the 1970s. Peyton Manning? He scored a 28. According to research by former Sports Illustrated writer Paul Zimmerman, the average quarterback score is 24. The test isn’t a perfect predictor of future success in the league, though—Johnny Manziel got a 32.
The gamer. Can you roll with this? Luck once told The Indianapolis Star his favorite board game is Settlers of Catan.
The architect. Even if there were a way to coast at Stanford, Luck didn’t. He piled a demanding course load on top of playing Division I football, and came away with a degree in architectural design. (A professor told The New York Times that Luck could have gone on to MIT.) According to a Star story, young Andrew got his start in architecture by spending 10 years of his childhood in Europe, visiting cultural epicenters like Paris and Madrid and building Lego castles in the living room of his family’s home in Frankfurt.
The bookworm. Since April 2016, the Andrew Luck Book Club has recommended books for rookie readers and veterans. Recent endorsements have gone to works by Anna Sewell and Stephen Ambrose. “I’ve enjoyed reading for a long time,” Luck says in a welcome video on the book club’s website, “and I can tell you it’s a wonderful way to spend free time. My friends, family, and teammates often ask me for suggestions of books to read, and I’m more than happy to share titles with them.” The man The Wall Street Journal has called the “NFL’s unofficial librarian” encourages everyone to participate in social media discussions about each book-club selection on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter by using the hashtag #ALBookClub. Luck, who turns 28 on September 12, may be the only Millennial without his own Twitter account—but he says he does run the book club’s handle (@ALBookClub).
The thesaurus. Could you tell a friend what “chutzpah,” “paucity,” and “vociferous” mean right now, without grabbing your phone to check Google? The average Joe would probably say “nerve,” “shortage,” and “loud” instead, but not Luck. In a 2013 ESPN column, former teammate Matt Hasselbeck wondered how many in the Colts’ locker room knew what “chutzpah” meant, and the now-retired Pat McAfee wished Luck wouldn’t rub in his extensive vocabulary.
The clean freak. In a 2014 interview, IM asked Luck to name his favorite day-off activity. “Vacuuming.”
The natural. If Luck stands out for his braininess, it’s in his DNA—both of his parents received law degrees from the University of Texas, and his father, Oliver, played for the NFL’s Houston Oilers for four years after a stellar collegiate career at West Virginia. Oh yeah, Oliver was also a Rhodes Scholar finalist. So is it purely genetics? Chances are, Luck could explain to us exactly how that works.