Andrew Luck remembers watching Monday Night Football while growing up in Europe and Texas. So does Chuck Pagano, who watched games as a youngster in Colorado.
As the Indianapolis Colts began preparing in earnest Thursday for their prime time road trip to San Diego on Monday, Luck and Pagano offered up a few recollections of their favorite MNF memories.
The game will be the national debut of Luck, who is getting a lot of attention after leading the Colts to an 11-5 mark and the playoffs as a rookie last year and directing Indianapolis to a 4-1 record and first place in the AFC South so far this season.
“I think it’s going to be a lot of fun. Obviously, Monday Night Football has a ring to it. A feel about it. I remember as a kid, always wanting to stay up to watch the second half and being told I had to go to bed. So I hope my Mom lets my brother stay up and watch the second half,” Luck said.
Pagano’s memories go back a little further.
“It’s great. Monday night, you just think back as a kid growing up. Dandy Don [Meredith] and Howard Cosell. You couldn’t wait. Then to be able to coach and play on Monday night,” the second-year Colts head coach said Thursday.
Pagano expects his squad to make a good showing in front of a national audience.
“We know what a privilege it is to play and coach at this level, then having the opportunity to play on that stage is exciting. Again, it’s kick the ball off. It’s another football game and you got to refocus on that.”
“It’ll be exciting. It’s against a good San Diego team on the West Coast. It should be a lot of fun.”
Since his father was the commissioner of the now defunct NFL Europe, some of the Colts quarterback’s early Monday Night Football memories were of watching taped-delayed games in England and Germany.
“I think I really started figuring out what Monday night was when we moved back to the United States, middle school age and later in elementary school,” Luck said. “But even over there, I think, I want to say you could watch the game on the AFN, the Armed Forces Network, afterwards on tape delay. But it’s Monday Night Football. [It’s a] big deal.”
His favorite MNF game as a teenager?
“Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think Brett Favre’s father passed away and he threw [for 399 yards and four] touchdowns maybe [against Oakland in 2003]. I don’t know. I remember that. I remember being incredibly impressed,” Luck voiced, adding that he had to get special permission to stay up late to watch games.
“As a kid, you hear about that and you watch it and the story behind it was amazing. Certain games I was allowed to stay up for a little bit. If I got my sister to join in on the group effort to convince my parents to let us.”
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n Start fast — While the Colts have had success in recent games, winners of three straight, the team has had sluggish starts.
Particularly on offense. With a talented San Diego team coming up this week and Denver coming to Lucas Oil Stadium after that, Indianapolis can ill afford to continue that trend.
“We know we need to start fast if we’re going to have a chance in games. We can’t survive our mistakes forever, in a sense. If you can start the game with a touchdown on the first drive or get points on the first drive as an offense that really helps,” Luck said.
“As much as starting fast is important, finishing fast is as well. We’ll put a focus on starting fast this week. We’ll come out in practice and get it from the beginning.”
n Injury list — The Colts might be a little healthier for the San Diego game.
“[Rookie outside linebacker] Bjoern [Werner] is doing better. [Safety LaRon] Landry is day-to-day. [Fullback Stanley] Havili is day-to-day. [Defensive tackle] Ricky Jean [Francois was] back out there this afternoon,” the Colts coach said Thursday.
“Looks like we’re in good shape there. [Outside linebacker] Erik Walden will be a little bit limited. He’s got an elbow issue, has a little splint on there. You’ll see a brace, but should be fine for the game.”
No decision has made been as of yet concerning Landry’s availability for the Chargers game.
“I don’t know. I’ll keep my fingers crossed. It’d be great to have him if he’s 100 percent, but I don’t want to throw him out there if he’s not and risk another setback,” Pagano voiced. “These things are delicate and got to be handled the right way. Otherwise, it could be another two, three, four weeks, so we’ll play it by ear.”
Francois was a full go at practice while Havili saw limited work. Landry, Walden and Werner did not participate in Thursday’s workout.
n Bradshaw update — Pagano and Luck offered their support to injured running back Ahmad Bradshaw (neck), who was placed on injured reserve Tuesday.
The Colts coach talked about the decision to sit Bradshaw for the remainder of the season.
“They [Bradshaw and his advisers] were going to give a time and they collected all of the information that they needed to gather. It’s unfortunate, as we mentioned, we hate to lose anybody. We’ve lost our fair share. Ahmad is just another one that we hate to lose,” Pagano said.
“Injuries are part of the game. We understand that. But we feel sick about each and every one of them. He’s in good hands. He’ll get his thing taken care of and be back at some point better than ever.”
n Plenty of tickets left — Over 9,000 general admission tickets reportedly remain for the Indianapolis and Chargers my late afternoon Thursday.
It would appear as if the matchup will be blacked out in San Diego.
n Former Colts signed by San Diego — A pair of recently released Indianapolis players, defensive end Lawrence Guy and running back Kerwynn Williams, have been signed by the Chargers this week.
It’s no coincidence that San Diego added the ex-Colts the same week that the Chargers are set to play Indianapolis.
“We’ll ask them a few questions,” San Diego coach Mike McCoy told the team’s media Thursday.