Imagine being the starting quarterback of a really bad NFL team when Andrew Luck is in next year’s draft. It’s got to be a strange position.

Who wouldn’t want to get paid to watch this guy play football? (Paul Sakuma/AP)

And drafting Luck means two things to a starting quarterback:

1) You will lose your starting job.

2) As the backup to a franchise quarterback, you will instantly have the best gig in the NFL.

The first point is a given and so, for any player who spent his life dreaming of being a starting quarterback in the NFL, that dream will essentially be extinguished. That will be sad. But I contend that if you are lucky enough to back up a great quarterback and that quarterback never gets hurt, you have hit the professional athlete lottery.

Think about it. You are in the NFL, you play the glory position of quarterback for a winning team. Everyone loves a backup quarterback, and you still get paid quarterback money. You may get a championship ring or two. You never get hurt and you can eventually retire concussionless.

Then, with your brain functioning on all cylinders and a decade of experience watching the NFL up close, you can go on to become a head coach and make even more money. Being the backup quarterback to a star is a great career choice. Just ask Jason Garrett.

The current coach of the Cowboys spent the bulk of his “playing” career as the third string backup to Troy Aikman in Dallas, where he got to know Jerry Jones, the guy who hires coaches in Dallas. Garrett was in the NFL for a decade. He has three Super Bowl rings along with a decade’s worth of NFL paychecks to show for it. He is healthy.

And now, of course, he is coach of the Dallas Cowboys.

If Luck somehow lands in Indianapolis, you can bet that Curtis Painter will become an NFL head coach. Getting to back up Peyton Manning and then Andrew Luck would make Painter the luckiest man in the NFL.

But other than for Painter, the Andrew Luck sweepstakes represents a once-in-a-lifetime career opportunity. The best advice seems to be: keep losing, and get to know the team’s owner.

After all, as the saying goes, you make your own luck.


Brian Tarcy at is the co-author of "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Football" with Joe Theismann, and the creator of the NFL humor site