By Thomas Jenkins aka TJJenkins

Andrew Luck is more than likely going to be the newest member of the “Number One Club”, the exclusive fraternity of players drafted number one overall in the NFL Draft. But, he’s already starting his NFL career off with his name appearing next to the word “Leaf” in headlines. Now, before Colts fans have heart attacks and Chargers fans shake their heads in dismay, no, I’m not talking about former NFL first round pick Ryan Leaf, but instead, about Leaf Trading Cards.

You see, four years ago, Luck, like every other high school hopeful wanting to get those recruiters looking their way, participated in the 2008 US Army All American Bowl. As per the norm at any big event, pictures were taken, rights to said photos were signed away, and the company reserved those rights to eventually make trading cards featuring some of the players and pictures taken.

 

Andrew Luck and his lawyers believe that this violates the quarterback’s right to privacy, Leaf doesn’t think so, and neither do I.

Let’s put this into perspective, Luck is going to be playing the most publicized position on the football field; quarterback. Playing quarterback comes with its ups and downs, the ups being that he will be the forefront of the team, and the downs being that the media will look to either elevate him to God-like status, or berate him as the scapegoat after a loss.

Another down that comes with playing any position in the NFL, much less the quarterback position, is that his entire life is going to be publicized for anyone with access to a TV or computer to see or read. For example, take Dallas Cowboy’s quarterback Tony Romo, he can’t even go on vacation without having cameras in his face and his picture being plastered all over the media. But, Andrew Luck somehow thinks that taking photos of him at a football game, and placing said photos on cardboard is some sort of invasion of privacy conspiracy against him?

I guess the major question here is what happens post NFL Draft, when big time card companies like Topps and Panini want to put Luck’s face on their cards, with pieces of his jersey, shoe, helmet, a ball he threw once and of course, his autograph? Are they going to have to jump through legal hoops to do so? Or is Luck going to embrace the image of first round quarterback and enjoy his popularity?

I’m not sure if Andrew Luck ever collected cards, or if he just plain forgot what it was like being a football fan instead of a football star. I propose that you go to www.youtube.com and type in “Sick Cam Newton Pull” and watch the elation unfold before your eyes as football fans pull an autographed card of the hottest quarterback from last year’s NFL Draft. Does Luck want to deprive his fans of that moment?

As both a collector and NFL fan, I’ll speak from firsthand experience on this one – player collectors are FIERCELY loyal about “their guy” whether it be the number one overall pick, or Mr. Irrelevant. Finding cards of their players is one of their purposes in life, and they go to the ends of the Earth to acquire these treasured pieces of cardboard and cut up jersey.

Luck hasn’t taken a single NFL snap, and not only is he going to be an assured multimillionaire, but he’s also gained quite the following in the sports card community. Now, granted, not all of these followers are in it purely for their fascination with Luck, some see the profit margin in re-selling his cards, but that, certainly, is their right. Some Indianapolis Colts’ fans are already making room in their monster boxes for their Andrew Luck personal collections, and I can’t say that I blame them, should he be picked by the team first overall, the hopes and dreams of that franchise and fan base will rest squarely on his shoulders, and so far, in my humble opinion – he’s letting them down.

 Now, I’m not one to give life advice to those who make my annual salary in a day, but if I could give Mr. Luck one piece of advice, it would be this : “You’re going to be a top three draft pick in a few days, relax and enjoy it. You’re only going to get to live this moment once, and in the grand scheme of things, there are going to be thousands of cards produced with your face on it – consider it an honor, some played their last game long before the US Army All American Bowl and would love to be in your shoes right now. Best of luck (no pun intended of course) to you and I hope that you enjoy a successful and healthy career, both in the NFL and long after you retire.”