Andrew Luck doesn't appear interested in manipulating the future. Rather, he'll just play in the NFL.
Two people close to Luck said the Stanford quarterback is not expected to take classes next quarter. Instead, Luck is expected to declare and focus on preparing for the 2012 NFL draft, in which he is expected to be the No. 1 overall pick.
That move counters speculation by some that Luck would possibly return to Stanford for another season or at least threaten to manipulate who will take him in the NFL draft. Luck is a senior, but redshirted as a freshman in 2008, giving him the option to play one more season.
Winter quarter classes at Stanford are scheduled to begin Jan. 9. Luck and his family have been very private about his plans for the NFL. He surprised many people when he returned to Stanford this season rather than come out early for the 2011 draft.
"He could still go back and register for classes, but that's not the plan," said a source who has known Luck for many years.
Luck's father, Oliver, who played quarterback in the NFL and is now the athletic director at West Virginia University, wrote via text message that his son "does have academic work this spring that he needs to complete to graduate … and he's planning to finish his academics." When asked specifically about whether his son would be taking classes or focusing on his NFL future, Luck wrote: "All I can tell you is that he'll finish his degree. It is important to him."
At Stanford, as with many schools, there are ways to get academic credits without being in a classroom (internships, thesis work, etc.), meaning Luck could still earn his degree without having to enroll in January.
Some people have speculated that Luck would stay in college or at least threaten to if he wasn't going to get drafted by a team of his liking, forcing a situation similar to what Eli Manning(notes) and John Elway did when they were drafted by the San Diego Chargers and the Baltimore Colts, respectively. Luck has another year of eligibility because he redshirted as a true freshman in 2008. It's an interesting bit of speculation, but has never been seriously considered, the source said.
"That's not his style," the source said. "He doesn't like all the attention to begin with and now you're talking about doing something that would bring a lot of extra attention on him. … I know it has been done, but there's no guarantee of where you go. Even now, you can't figure out what the teams are really going to do. He wants to go somewhere and have a chance to be great. You can't create that by yourself."
Currently, 0-10 Indianapolis is in line to have the No. 1 overall pick. Colts president Bill Polian has already personally watched one of Luck's games and several members of the team's staff attended the Stanford-Cal game on Saturday. Polian has talked about the team's willingness to take a quarterback in the draft, although the situation is complicated by the health of 36-year-old quarterback Peyton Manning(notes).
After the Colts, Carolina, St. Louis and Minnesota are all tied at 2-8. However, all three have young quarterbacks drafted in the first round since 2010. Next are Miami, Washington, Arizona and Jacksonville at 3-7. Arizona and Jacksonville both made major investments at the position earlier this year.
On the surface, that leaves Miami and Washington as likely suitors for a quarterback. Luck, Oklahoma senior Landry Jones, who has another year of eligibility, and USC junior Matt Barkley are considered likely first-round draft picks.
Downtown stadium discrepancy
The latest renderings for a stadium in downtown Los Angeles didn't exactly have the effect that AEG was looking for among NFL types. AEG, which had been pitching a retractable roof, unveiled what the designer is calling a "deployable" roof. Rather than open and close like those in Houston, Phoenix and Detroit, the roof will be "lifted into place" in what is planned to be called Farmers Field.
In reality, the issue of a roof is mostly only the concern of AEG and Los Angeles city officials, who plan to use the stadium as convention space when it's not used for football. In addition, there was hope to use the building for NCAA Final Fours.
To the NFL and to three teams that have privately talked to AEG, the issue now is the perception that AEG is backtracking on earlier promises. Or as one team source wrote in an email: "The city has been sold a bill of goods … all the numbers and projections on convention business in connection with the new stadium are all out the window now … huge attempted re-trade by AEG … with more to come."
Another team source said he wasn't surprised at all with the change and that this will ultimately undermine the project.
"This is exactly what's going to scare teams off that project. It's a bait-and-switch job. 'Oh, we said retractable roof? No, no, we meant deployable roof.' Whatever that means? If you're a team thinking about going there, the assurances have to be ironclad. Any backtracking is scary," the team source said.
Among NFL team personnel executive-types, few players elicit a harsher response these days than Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver and pending free agent (franchise tag aside) DeSean Jackson. One of the most talented deep and return threats in the game, Jackson routinely garners eye-rolls because of his immaturity and perceived selfishness, which was on display in the Eagles' win over the New York Giants on Sunday night.
[ Related: DeSean Jackson's 'flip' negates 50-yard reception ]
"That big catch and then the penalty is his whole career wrapped up in one play," a team executive said of the wiped out second-quarter play vs. the Giants. "He's spectacular and then he's an idiot and it happens in a matter of a half-second. This is a guy who wants to get paid and he has no clue how to act. He can't even fake it for half a season. … If you think giving him a lot of money will mean you can control him, you're just plain delusion. But somebody is going to do it. Somebody is going to talk themselves into it."
The executive hesitated and then chuckled quietly under his breath before saying, "And it might be me."
1. Green Bay Packers (10-0): With the addition of B.J. Raji(notes) and Tom Crabtree, 12 players have scored offensive touchdowns this season.
2. San Francisco 49ers (9-1): The best part of what the 49ers are doing is keeping the pressure on the Packers to win to get the NFC's top seed
3. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-3): The Steelers couldn't have picked a better time for their aging defense to get a bye week.
4. New England Patriots (7-3): As noted, the Pack has 12 guys who have scored an offensive TD. The Pats have seven, which is still pretty good.
5. Baltimore Ravens (7-3): You have to ask yourself one really important question when it comes to the Ravens: Do you trust them?
28. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-7): Good thing about the Jags is that they play really fast games. The torture doesn't last that long.
29. St. Louis Rams (2-8): QB Sam Bradford(notes) has 5 TD passes, 5 INTs and 6 lost fumbles, a big reason why Rams have only 2 wins.
30. Minnesota Vikings (2-8): Best part of QB Christian Ponder(notes) taking over is that WR Percy Harvin(notes) is finally getting the ball regularly.
31. Carolina Panthers (2-8): Only the Colts have given up more than the 286 points the Panthers have allowed (300).
32. Indianapolis Colts (0-10): Loss to Carolina (followed by road games with Baltimore and New England) might clinch the Luck Derby.
Niners QB Alex Smith is 21st in passing yards (1,976) and has been sacked 21 times this season.
• A word of warning to San Francisco fans who are, rightfully, getting geeked up about the 49ers' 9-1 mark. One of the key stats in forecasting the possible playoff success of a team is how much of a differential there is between yards a team gains per play and how many it gives up. Championship teams are usually at .6 more yards per play. For instance, if a team allows 5.0 yards per play, a potential title team is usually around at least 5.6 yards gained per play. For the 49ers, they are only at .1, gaining a pedestrian 5.3 yards per play while allowing 5.2 yards per play. In short, the 49ers have the statistical numbers of a team that should be closer to 6-4 than 9-1.
• Along that line, 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh and his brother, Baltimore coach John Harbaugh, both must preach forcing fumbles like nobody else. San Francisco leads the league in forced fumbles with 24 this season. The 49ers have recovered 11, which is a big factor in their plus-17 turnover ratio for the season. Baltimore is tied with Washington for second in the league with 21 forced fumbles. The league average for forced fumbles is 13.1.
• To the many fans out there who complain that sometimes I don't write about a particular team, let me explain: Often times, there is another Yahoo! writer covering that team. In other words, there's no reason for me to cover the same ground as Michael Silver or Dan Wetzel or Les Carpenter. Thus, if you don't see a significant mention of your team in the Sunday Winners and Losers column, please hold off on the snarky emails until you see what the other writers cover.
• A week after Vince Young(notes) made his return to starting, fellow 2006 first-round quarterback Matt Leinart(notes) makes his return with Houston. That made for an interesting question about whether either guy has a chance to cash-in at some point. Young is scheduled to be a free agent this coming offseason. Leinart is signed through the 2012 season. "We all know what the physical talents are at this point," one GM said. "They're both OK. With Young, you either can deal with his throwing motion or you can't. Same goes for Leinart's arm strength. The real question is whether either guy has become mentally tough. The entitlement factor was huge with both those guys. They expected to be handed the job, not have anybody ride them and all of sudden they'd win."
• Dear NFL players who like to use Twitter: I hope you're learning that reporters aren't the bad guys who are trying to make you look bad. Based on Jabar Gaffney(notes) and Rashard Mendenhall(notes), you guys do a great job by yourselves.
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