INDIANAPOLIS — Andrew Luck cherishes his European roots.
As a child, he learned to appreciate the history, the cultures and the sights of a whole different part of the world.
As an adult, he uses the bustling cosmopolitan cities as his personal refuge, a place where he can spend part of the summer relaxing and enjoying life like just another face in the crowd.
All of which makes this weekend’s business trip to London, one of his childhood hometowns, a little different. This time, there will be nowhere for one of the NFL’s higher-profile quarterbacks to hide.
“I am looking forward to it — as just another game,” Luck said Wednesday. “It doesn’t really matter where we play. It’s not like we’re going to Big Ben or Buckingham Palace, you’re going there to play the game.”
Any other week, the Indianapolis Colts’ franchise quarterback would be peppered with questions about dissecting Jacksonville’s defense.
And while that assignment certainly takes precedence for Luck, this week also has been about finding the proper balance playing the roles of team leader, teacher and tour guide for a city he knows well.
Oliver Luck moved his family to Frankfurt, Germany, when Andrew was a toddler then relocated the family to London a few years later.
There, the eventual No. 1 overall draft pick spent his formative school years and developed an affinity for many things European — a trait that has made Luck one of the most unique American sports celebrities.
Despite signing a six-year, $140 million contract in June, Luck still clings to his old-fashioned flip phone and still remains passionate about soccer.
Last spring, he started his own online book club, and, yes, occasionally he can be spotted riding a bike around town to pick up food.
What really makes him different, though, is his unquenchable thirst for detailed knowledge and his ability to pass it on.
“The first time I really saw it was when we landed in Denver,” rookie center Ryan Kelly said. “There’s this huge horse right near the airport, and he knows the whole thing about it so he started telling us the story.
“I’m sure as soon as we land in London, he’s going to be telling us some story, not about Big Ben or something like that, but about something nobody knows about. It’s pretty fascinating, really.”
Luck has plenty of stories to share from both sides of the pond.
Some of his teammates, such as Pro Bowl receiver T.Y. Hilton could benefit from Luck’s advice about where to go, what to do and how to get around. Hilton has never traveled or lived outside the U.S.
Others have their own experiences to rely upon.
Assistant head coach Joe Philbin made the midseason European jaunt twice when he was head coach of the Miami Dolphins, going 1-1.
Head coach Chuck Pagano has acknowledged that he consulted with Philbin, Indy’s offensive line coach, before mapping out a schedule.
Running back Jordan Todman lost both games he played at Wembley Stadium as part of the Jaguars (0-3), but found a couple of hangout spots.
“I have a thing for Harrods Mall and I like Piccadilly Square as well. It’s a cool place,” Todman said. “Everything about it is cool. Check it out, different accents, it’s fun.”
Running back Frank Gore’s two trips proved more successful. He ran for a combined 189 yards, scored three touchdowns and came home with two wins.
But it’s not easy living up to Luck’s standard.
“He was pretty business-like because we had a camp there when we went,” Dwayne Allen said, recalling the time he spent with Luck in London this summer.
“But I was able to see some sights, and I don’t know a lot about British history, but he taught me a lot.”
So what does Luck want his teammates to know about London?
It’s a fabulous place to visit during the offseason when there’s time to take it all in.
But this week only one thing matters: The Colts (1-2) trying to come home with a .500 record.
“I try to go to London every year because it’s sort of easy to get to, and I really enjoy going to a soccer game or whatever and I get to be sort of anonymous and just a normal bloke,” Luck said. “This week, we’re going there to play a game and that’s our focus.”