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Andrew Luck Is Throwing a Football Again

It’s an NCAA football, but that doesn’t really matter. This is the biggest step the quarterback’s recovery process has taken in months.

Houston Texans v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

It might be a miracle. For the first time in 243 days, Andrew Luck is throwing footballs again. Here he is at Tuesday’s Colts OTA:

Immediately after this video was released, Twitter began to speculate about whether Luck is throwing a regulation-size football or a “college ball.” The ball pictured is clearly not an NFL football—that’s easy to tell from its college-style white stripes. But that doesn’t necessarily mean much. College balls and NFL balls are built to almost exactly the same dimensions. Here’s a diagram from the NCAA’s official rule book:

NCAA Publications

And here’s a relevant corresponding passage from the NFL’s rule book:

The ball shall be made up of an inflated (12½ to 13½ pounds) urethane bladder enclosed in a pebble grained, leather case (natural tan color) without corrugations of any kind. It shall have the form of a prolate spheroid and the size and weight shall be: long axis, 11 to 11¼ inches; long circumference, 28 to 28½ inches; short circumference, 21 to 21¼ inches; weight, 14 to 15 ounces.

The circumference of a college ball can be slightly smaller in long circumference (27 ¾ inches vs. 28 inches), short circumference (20 ¾ inches vs. 21 inches), and length (10 ⅞ inches vs. 11 inches), but both have to be inflated the same amount (12.5 to 13.5 PSI) and carry the same weight (14 to 15 ounces). So Luck might be throwing a slightly smaller football, but it’s basically the real thing. And visual evidence confirms that Luck was, in fact, throwing a college ball. Here’s a video of Luck, with the ball that he ended up throwing in hand, picking up an NFL ball at today’s practice:

They appear to be identical in size. But let’s not allow all this mumbo jumbo to distract from the main takeaway: ANDREW. LUCK. IS. THROWING. FOOTBALLS.

At the practice, Luck threw only about 10 passes, and none traveled more than 10 yards downfield. Still, for Colts fans, this is cause for celebration, as Luck’s recovery from a labrum repair surgery has been notoriously slow. The injury has lingered since 2015, and this has been the most encouraging sign in Luck’s recovery.

Colts fans have gotten used to hearing vague reports, like the one in March that claimed Luck was throwing footballs that turned out to not be true. Luck admitted in April that he hadn’t thrown any balls during his recovery.

Last offseason, the Colts waited until the last minute to confirm that Luck wouldn’t start in Week 1, and then the weeks stretched on, with little information on Luck’s progress. Luck was able to practice with the team occasionally during the early fall, but in October, the quarterback suffered a setback that caused him to miss the entire season.

Though there are still months to go before the NFL season begins, this offseason has felt similar to last year. The Colts keep promising that Luck is making great progress in his rehab, saying that they aren’t worried at all about the QB. But it doesn’t always sound genuine: Last Thursday, head coach Frank Reich almost blurted out that he was “really excited” in response to a question about Luck before stopping himself and adjusting. “Just continuing to make great progress. Not good progress—great progress, in every way,” he concluded.

But, finally: Eureka! Colts fans now have actual, concrete evidence that Luck can throw footballs. This Long Night may finally be ending.