Philadelphia Sports comparables to Andrew Luck’s retirement

(Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
(Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) /

With the sudden retirement of Andrew Luck at hand, let’s consider how the worst moments for each Philadelphia sports franchise compare to the Colts’ misery.

I think we can all agree that the Indianapolis Colts are screwed.

That’s what happens when the focal point of your team, a number one overall pick not too long ago, up and retires on the eve of a new season. Thanks for the heads up, Andrew.

In this case, my thoughts turn to those poor fans in Indianapolis. But I can’t feel too bad, because I then immediately consider the lack of sympathy Philadelphia fans would receive if this happened to one of their teams.

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And while I’m glad that this type of scenario hasn’t played out in this town (yet), I also wonder just how much the Colts’ sudden and likely long-lasting pain compares to the worst moments that each Philadelphia franchise has experienced this decade.

So let’s take a look at the absolute worst thing to happen to each local team in the last ten years and decide if it’s at least marginally better or somehow even worse than what Andrew Luck‘s sudden retirement does to the Colts.

Philadelphia Flyers

With the Orange and Black having settled comfortably into mediocrity the last few years, one cannot pinpoint a specific moment of acute pain. It’s been extremely frustrating, yes, but a slow burn doesn’t have the franchise-altering impact of something like Luck’s retirement.

So we will have to go all the way back to 2010, when the Flyers were actually good and had a chance to do something. You may recall their unexpected run to the Stanley Cup Final that year before losing a Game 6 overtime on what could be the worst goal in NHL history.

Ouch. Still hurts.

The passage of time dulls the pain all these years later, but the Flyers haven’t even been past the second round of the playoffs since. This really was their only shot for a long time, and they lost on just about the sourest note possible.

Verdict: Given how close they were to bringing home the Cup, and the fact that an all-time cheap goal ruined everything, the Flyers’ Game 6 loss in 2010 is WORSE than Andrew Luck’s retirement.

Philadelphia 76ers

For some reason, the first bad thing that came to my mind about the 76ers this decade was the Andrew Bynum debacle. The Sixers put a whole lot of stock in him, and he never played a game for them. The situation was a disgrace. And then I remembered. Kawhi Leonard. Oh. Right.

If you weren’t too busy watching Game of Thrones that night, you might remember having to pick your jaw up off the floor when Leonard hit an impossible 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Toronto Raptors a Game 7 win over the Sixers. Losses truly do not get any worse than that.

But the silver lining here is that this 76ers team seemingly still has a lot of runway to work with. If they can somehow win a championship with this core in the next few years, the sting of Kawhi’s lucky shot will subside at least somewhat. It can even be pointed to as one of those “learning what it takes to win” moments that sports seem to produce from time to time.

Verdict: It’s speculative on my part, but I think that a young team like this 76ers squad can bounce back from such heartbreak, at least more effectively than the Colts are going to without a quarterback. Therefore, losing on Kawhi’s garbage 3-pointer is BETTER than Andrew Luck’s retirement.

Philadelphia Phillies

One might be able to make the case right off the bat that you’d take about twenty Andrew Luck retirements over having Gabe Kapler as manager. But, kidding aside, this iteration of the Phillies hasn’t been good enough to experience true disappointment.

So let’s revisit 2011 once again, the last time the Phillies were in the postseason. Specifically, we’ll look at the final game they played, a 1-0 loss in Game 5 of the NLDS against the St. Louis Cardinals.

While the first-round loss means that the Phillies didn’t come particularly close to winning the World Series that year, the way it happened was positively excruciating. Roy Halladay‘s tremendous performance was wasted in a 1-0 loss. Not only that, but it ended with Ryan Howard’s career-ruining injury.

Philadelphia Phillies
Philadelphia Phillies /

Philadelphia Phillies

It’s like some demented screenwriter scripted the most painful loss possible for the Phillies, one that also stood as a definitive endpoint of their 5-year stretch of dominance. Things just haven’t been the same since.

Verdict: I still shake my head over this one. But, based solely on the fact that the Phillies had already banked a World Series by then, their criminally bad Game 5 loss to the Cardinals in 2011 is still BETTER than Andrew Luck retiring and leaving the Colts high and dry without delivering a Super Bowl to them.

Philadelphia Eagles

Speaking of Super Bowls, the Eagles won one, so nothing else matters. The entire team could retire tomorrow, and I would still be fine with it because their championship isn’t far enough in the rearview yet. And, even then, Howie Roseman would find a way to field a great team.

Still, for the purposes of the exercise, I will have to direct your attention to last year’s playoff loss in New Orleans, the one that featured Alshon Jeffery’s dropped pass that turned into a game-changing interception.

Philadelphia Eagles
Philadelphia Eagles /

Philadelphia Eagles

Even with the recent championship to fall back on, that one really hurt. And just as it was beginning to feel like it was the Eagles’ destiny to return to the Super Bowl and hand Tom Brady his lunch again.

Verdict: This is not really a close call. Every Eagles loss hurts, especially playoff defeats, but not to the level of your franchise player suddenly quitting on you. And so I say that, even discounting the leeway generated by their Super Bowl victory, the Eagles’ playoff loss last season in New Orleans is still BETTER than Luck’s retirement.

In doing these evaluations, I was encouraged that each Philadelphia team’s most defining bad moments at least took place on the playing field/court/ice. There hasn’t been anything off the playing surface as horrendous as what Luck’s retirement does to Indianapolis.

It also seems that, in my mind, only the Flyers’ 2010 Stanley Cup Final loss stands as a worse moment for a Philadelphia franchise in the last ten years than Luck’s decision to retire is for the Colts. This is based both on how close the Flyers were to winning a title that year, and also the fact that they never came close in the years before or since.

Next. Nate Sudfeld to the Colts fixes the QB logjam. dark

The Colts won’t have any issues with heartbreaking playoff losses anytime soon, though. Stinks to be them. Let’s just hope that none of Philadelphia’s most critical players pull this move anytime in the near future.