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Colts regret: Robert Griffin III upstages Andrew Luck, shows Indy's star mistake on draft night

News_Chris Baldwin_managing editor_arms crossed

It only took a pair of zany socks and a red cellphone to upstage Andrew Luck.

Robert Griffin III couldn't have had an easier time of making the No. 2 pick in the NFL Draft seem like the No. 1 star. Baylor University's game changer took over the stage at Radio City Music Hall with the same self assured, coolly confident manner he always nabs the big moments. It doesn't matter if it's a bowl game that's turned into a video game, the Heisman Trophy ceremony or the NFL's ever-expanding TV show, RGIII is the one you cannot take your eyes off.

It's something the Indianapolis Colts should have taken more note of. Jim Irsay and the Colts' re-made, who-needs-Peyton-Manning front office are going to end up regretting this choice — almost as much as Indy has celebrated that No. 1/No. 2 choice of Manning over Ryan Leaf all those years ago.

 A number of reaching stories have compared Luck and Griffin III to Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, as two near equal game-changing stars. Sorry, but a more apt comparison would be Michael Jordan and Sam Perkins. 

Oh, the quarterback from Stratford High is never going to embarrass Indianapolis the way Leaf's shamed almost anyone who's ever believed in him. You won't see ever Oliver Luck's son declared a fugitive in Texas. Not in a million lifetimes. 

Luck is destined to be a better than average NFL quarterback.

He's just not going to be Robert Griffin III. For RG3 is destined to be an all-time star. A number of reaching stories have compared Luck and Griffin III to Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, as two near equal game-changing stars.

Sorry, but a more apt comparison would be Michael Jordan and Sam Perkins, if you want to go NBA Drafts. Jordan and Perkins went back-to-back in the 1984 NBA Draft (third and fourth overall respectively). Perkins enjoyed a fine 17-year NBA career. He wasn't anything close to Sam Bowie-sized mistake. But he wasn't anything close to Michael Jordan either.

The problem is the Colts picked a Sam Perkins with an MJ on the board.

It's not as if Robert Griffin III hasn't given everyone notice that he's the real game changer in this draft. He managed to make Baylor — Baylor —  cool. He causes everyone from 80-year-old grandmothers to 8-year-old kids to stop and stare when he's on a TV screen.

Andrew Luck is the one who went to Stanford. But RG3 is the one who's much more like John Elway.

The Argument

Luck backers — and there are plenty of NFL personnel types who fawn over this quarterback who seems ordered straight from central casting — will tell you he's more prepared to be a pro quarterback. That's what everyone wants to buy. But Griffin III is more prepared to be a superstar.

It's not just the way he can make everyone talk about his cellphone (as soon as the red number flashed up on ESPN, it became a topic). Or his socks. Even when everyone knows some crazy socks are coming. RG3 still manages to turn his burgundy-and-gold "Go Catch Your Dream" socks into a big Thursday night story — one worthy of its own sidebar or TV package.

Even on a night when the Dallas Cowboys make a big play and move up to grab the cornerback they need.

Scream about flash over substance if you must. Just know that you're wrong. Griffin III happens to have better flash and ​substance.

It's the rarest of combinations in today's self-indulgent, highlight-happy sports world. But every once in a while, an athlete has it. A few guys just grab the moment with style. It's a young Michael Jordan hitting that jumper against Georgetown and Patrick Ewing in that NCAA Championship Game. It's Elway ripping out Cleveland's heart with The Drive.

 Scream about flash over substance if you must. Just know that you're wrong. Griffin III happens to have better flash and ​substance. 

It's Robert Griffin III throwing for nearly 500 yards and four touchdowns against Oklahoma. It's Griffin III soon dragging Mike Shanahan and the Washington Redskins back into relevance. Don't be surprised when RG3 manages to make even Daniel Snyder seem lovable, the way he helped transform Ken Starr's image at Baylor.

"To whom much is given, much is expected," Griffin III tells the cameras after he's picked. "I'm looking to go succeed."

Luck? He tells Colts fans to "Hope for the best." Gee thanks. These forever-linked quarterbacks are not going to be judged for their ability as inspirational speakers of course. But their different approaches hint at the larger truth.

When the no-suspense picks become official, Luck hugs his mom first (after finally ending the longest ceremonial cellphone call in sports history). Griffin III hugs his coach, Art Briles, another dogged underdog, and then mom. 

Luck's proven he is already adept at the self-deprecating game that Manning played so well over the years. The Stanford quarterback spent part of the buildup to the draft talking about how clueless he was at fashion and how he let his mom coordinate his draft night suit.

Every aw-shucks plays great in middle America.

He's the son of Oliver Luck, the former Oilers quarterback and Houston Dynamo general manager from 2005-08. You'd expect nothing less than practiced poise. Andrew was born in Washington D.C. and he spent much of his early years in London and Frankfurt, Germany, but his sweet-passing high school days came at Stratford  and Houston has plenty of right to call him a hometown boy.

That's how Oliver and Andrew largely self identify. Father, who is now athletic director at West Virginia University, and son will be back in Houston in May to attend a game at the new Dynamo stadium.

They're a great father and son story. They're just not the story of this draft. They're not the story of this night. They're not the story of the NFL to come. That's Robert Griffin III.

Go Catch Your Dream? Oops. The Colts already dropped it.

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