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REGGIE HAYES: Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck throwing positive vibes at Riley Children’s Health event at Saint Francis

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, right, prepares to throw as Saint Francis linebacker Piercen Harnish looks on Monday at the Riley Children's Health event at Saint Francis. (Photo by Reggie Hayes of news-sentinel.com)
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck high fives participants on Monday at the Change the Play camp by Riley Children's Health at the University of Saint Francis. (Photo by Dan Vance of news-sentinel.com)
Camper Kael Hunter gets a chance to talk to the media at the Change the Play camp by Riley Children's Health at the University of Saint Francis. Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck participated. (Photo by Dan Vance of news-sentinel.com)
Youngsters at the Riley Children's Health "Change the Play" event look on as Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck throws Monday at Saint Francis. (Photo by Reggie Hayes of news-sentinel.com)
Participants and volunteers listen as Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck talks at the Riley Children's Health event Monday at Saint Francis. (Photo by Reggie Hayes of news-sentinel.com)
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck chats with Joetta and Henry Beasley Monday at the Change the Play camp by Riley Children's Health at the University of Saint Francis. The Beasleys are the parents of area soccer great DaMarcus. (Photo by Dan Vance of news-sentinel.com)
University of Saint Francis football player Piercen Harnish talks to campers on Monday at the Change the Play camp by Riley Children's Health at USF. (Photo by Dan Vance of news-sentinel.com)
Andrew Luck tries his hand at defensive back during the Riley Children's Health "Change the Play" event Monday at Saint Francis. (Photo by Reggie Hayes of news-sentinel.com)
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck throws a pass to a camper Monday at the Change the Play camp by Riley Children's Health at the University of Saint Francis. (Photo by Dan Vance of news-sentinel.com)
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck throws a pass to a camper Monday at the Change the Play camp by Riley Children's Health at the University of Saint Francis. (Photo by Dan Vance of news-sentinel.com)
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck throws a pass to a camper Monday at the Change the Play camp by Riley Children's Health at the University of Saint Francis. (Photo by Dan Vance of news-sentinel.com)
Andrew Luck talks with participants at the Riley Children's Health "Change the Play" event Monday at Saint Francis. (Photo by Reggie Hayes of news-sentinel.com)
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck spoke and participated with the Change the Play camp by Riley Children's Health on Monday at the University of Saint Francis. (Photo by Dan Vance of news-sentinel.com)
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck throws a pass to a camper Monday at the Change the Play camp by Riley Children's Health at the University of Saint Francis. (Photo by Dan Vance of news-sentinel.com)

This has been a heavily guarded secret but I was in the right place at the right time to hear Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck discussing his arm strength.

The subject was broached by a youngster, no more than 9 years old, as Luck was throwing passes to kids at the Riley Children’s Health “Change the Play” event Monday at the University of Saint Francis’ Bishop D’Arcy Stadium.

“How far can you throw it?” the kid asked.

Luck didn’t look around to see who was listening. He just let it fly.

“A million miles,” Luck said.

There you have it. That ought to be far enough to put up some touchdowns for the Colts this season when Luck returns to the field after missing 2017 with a shoulder injury.

For the record, Luck didn’t approach a million miles on any of the throws while I was watching, but he was probably holding back until the media left. He did run around a lot, toss the ball a lot, play defensive back and deliver a seemingly endless supply of high fives.

I can say without reservation Luck displayed the attitude of a guy whose career appears about to catapult back into the right direction.

This was Luck’s fourth trip to Fort Wayne to be part of the “Change the Play” event so there was a certain level of familiarity to the trip. This is what he should be doing in June.

“It does feel like part of the normal schedule, the normal rhythm, the normal routine,” Luck said. “And it’s exciting.”

Luck caught up with Saint Francis linebacker Piercen Harnish, whose older brother Chandler became a Luck friend when they were rookie quarterbacks with the Colts in 2012. He chatted with Henry and Joetta Beasley, parents of Fort Wayne’s most successful soccer player DaMarcus Beasley. Luck, a huge soccer fan, came to know the elder Beasley at the World Cup when DaMarcus was playing.

Luck talked with a number of Saint Francis players who were working as volunteers, including quarterback Matt Crable.

“I got to chat with him a little bit,” Crable said. “He loves the kids, loves doing this for the community. It’s great having someone like him to look up to. What he does with this camp and all he does with Indy and the community, it’s awesome. I really look up to him.”

Reporters were told not to ask Luck about his shoulder or football or all those things reporters like to ask Luck about. He was here to promote the camp, and to promote health. Given his highly publicized shoulder issues – and other football-related woes over the years – he’s a relative expert on health.

“I’ve learned a lot the last year, the past two years, about health and that you’ve got to be nice to your body,” Luck said. “You’ve got to be patient and it’ll adapt and change. You have to be nice to it.”

Dr. Paul Haut of Riley Children’s Health pointed to Luck’s long-standing promotion of healthy living, eating and exercising as the reason he’s a perfect representative for the organization.

“Andrew lives this every day and that’s why he’s such a great partner, a great spokesman,” Haut said. “He talks about growing up and how his parents taught them how to play all kinds of sports and not focus on one thing. They had to live a healthy lifestyle. It was part of what they did.”

With all the scrutiny Luck has been under the last two years, he seemed extremely relaxed and at ease with the event participants, with the college players and even with the media.

If this is a guy feeling the heaviness of pressure as he enters his seventh season in the NFL, he’s not letting it show.

“I realize as a professional athlete you have a platform, especially with kids,” Luck said. “For better or worse, they look up to you. You can have either a positive or negative message, and that’s why I love partnering with Riley on this and trying to have a positive impact on health.”

After speaking briefly with the media, Luck jumped into the mix with the kids. He asked if there were any New England Patriots fans in the group. Upon finding one, he requested the kid’s parents escort their child out. He was joking, of course. It was the start of a day spent joking, relaxing and tossing some footballs.

At one point, Luck had a group of youngsters end their time at the throwing station with “1, 2, 3, T.Y. Hilton!”

If that’s not a quarterback ready to throw, I don’t know what is.

This column is the commentary of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of The News-Sentinel. Email Reggie Hayes at rhayes@news-sentinel.com.

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