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Irsay: Andrew Luck has '107-degree fever' for success

Less than 24 hours after firing long-time coach Chuck Pagano, Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay was already looking toward the future when he sat in front of local media on Monday, a future that includes a new skipper selected by general manager Chris Ballard and the return of Andrew Luck.

Irsay said Monday once again that he expects Luck, who missed the entire 2017 season while rehabbing his shoulder, back in the saddle come 2018. Colts fans and the Indy media contingent have heard this message often in varying degrees of confidence over the past 12 months. But this time Irsay was insistent and animated when describing the inevitable return of his franchise quarterback.

"I mean, you guys don't know the fire that's burning in No. 12's eyes," Irsay explained. "You don't know what type of fever he has for success right now. I mean, it's 107-degree fever toward success right now, and the intensity he has. You put him on that field ... and all of a sudden you put an Edgerrin James type of player maybe that's bigger, faster and stronger and let this man continue the job that he's already begun to do."

Irsay continued with a long diatribe, exclaiming that there is "no question" that Luck will come back and that his optimism in that fact is "genuine." The Colts owner then combated those who doubt his repeated claims that Luck is on the path to recovery.

"When you talk about me being an optimist, I am. But I'm a realist too," Irsay told reporters. "Look it, I'm going to look you in the eye. If we have something tough to talk about, I'm going to talk about it right on. I mean, I'm not going to B.S. someone. I'm not going to B.S. my fans. I'm not going to B.S. you. I'm not going to do any of that to anyone because I don't want it done to me.

"But I am telling you, I am telling you that I have no doubt in my mind that Andrew is going to come back and when I talk about the look in his eye, when I talk about the temperature of 107 ... I am telling you that that kid is a special kid. Special! He was born to do great things in the National Football League and he will do great things in the National Football League."

The Colts owner added for emphasis, "I'm serious here when I say this. I really, really feel from all the information that I have blended together from my nearly half a century of experience, I feel he's going to be back and he's going to be back for a long time and he's going to write his name into the National Football League history books in a very important way." Got that, cynics?

Irsay's passion concerning the status of the face of his franchise is completely understandable, but building the Colts back into a playoff contender in a rising AFC South will take more a healthy Andrew Luck, something Ballard seems to understand.

"For me, I want somebody that wants to come to the Indianapolis Colts," Ballard said, explaining his prerequisites of the next Colts head coach. "I don't want him to come here just for Andrew Luck. I want somebody who wants to build something special and build a team that's special. And if a candidate is coming in here just for Andrew, then he's probably not going to be the right fit."

Only two seasons ago, Luck's presence in Indianapolis made the Colts a destination franchise for free agents and potential coaches; hot-shot candidate Jon Gruden seriously considered signing on as coach last season. But with Luck's future up in the air, the Colts' vacancy is suddenly one of the least attractive, regardless of Irsay's optimism and the QB's "fever."

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