Last night was a prime example of why a sure thing doesn’t exist when it comes to football.

In New York City, Robert Griffin III stood on the stage of the Best Buy Theater as he was awarded the Heisman Trophy, becoming the first player from Baylor to win college football’s most prestigious individual award.

Meanwhile, Andrew Luck, a presumptive favorite for the award at various points throughout the season, had to settle for being first runner-up once again. The Stanford star finished second for the second-straight year. Always a bridesmaid…

While Saturday’s announcement will likely do little to affect Luck’s draft status, it does show the uncertainty that exists in football. (It’s worth noting that the Cardinal QB has more than his share of recognition, including the Maxwell Award, which also seeks to designate the season’s top player.) Barring something bizarre happening, Luck will be the first overall pick at the NFL draft in 2012.

And more than likely, thanks to the their ineptitude following the neck injury that cost Peyton Manning the season, the Indianapolis Colts will hold that No. 1 pick. As of this writing, the Colts are 0-13, holding two fewer wins than their closest competition for worst record in 2012 with three games to play. It seems that the chances are much better for the Colts to go 0-16 than to stumble their way into a pair of victories between now and January.

Which leads Indianapolis to quite the conundrum, one that has been the topic of debate ever since the Colts showed precisely how terrible they were. Depending on your observation, that would have been apparent as late as Week 7 (a 62-7 at the hands of the New Orleans Saints) or as early as the first half of Week 1 (when the Colts trailed the Houston Texans 34-0 at halftime en route to a 34-7 loss). Should they take Luck with the first pick, trade it or trade their franchise quarterback, Manning?

Conventional wisdom states that the Colts should sell off one of its two assets at quarterback, using the move to build at the other needs Indy has — and there are plenty of needs.

But why do the Colts have to make that move. Because they’re “supposed to”? Conventional wisdom doesn’t always prevail in the NFL. Examples of that can be found in the success Denver is having with Tim Tebow or the failures of the “Dream Team” in Philadelphia.

Unless the Colts know something about Manning that they’re not telling, the lynchpin of the Colts success over the past decade-plus will be back on the field in 2012. He should be back to the analytical genius he is under center, covering for the glaring problems that have been exposed in the Colts offense this season.

Luck has not been foolproof either. Late-season struggles, which likely cost him the Heisman, show that he still has developing to do. To think he’ll slide into the NFL backfield and be an immediate success are questionable at best and laughable at worst.

While Luck has been referred to as the next sure thing at NFL quarterback, many sure things have come and gone when handed the pressure of being a franchise quarterback right away. While some of the recent examples are still crafting their legacies — Sam Bradford hasn’t looked as good as hoped, and Matthew Stafford has been too injury prone to provide a clear definition — it’s pretty easy to point to a few No. 1 QB picks from earlier in the decade: JaMarcus Russell, David Carr and Tim Couch, to name a few. They were all given various levels of accolades coming into their rookie seasons, and they all failed to live up to expectations.

What if Indianapolis shows the patience to let Luck develop under Manning? The then-rookie would get to learn under one of the league’s best quarterback minds ever. The best team in the league today, the Green Bay Packers, is the model of how this can work. Aaron Rodgers spent seasons under future Hall-of-Famer Brett Favre. While the end of that relationship wasn’t pretty, the Colts can cross that bridge when they come to it.

Everyone seems to have an opinion on what the Colts should do. Spreading the QB wealth, whether it’s by giving away Luck or Manning, would be quite the gift to another NFL franchise. And if the Indianapolis front office gets the sweetheart deal, for either quarterback, it would be hard to fault the staff for taking the offer. As we’ve seen this season, the Colts have plenty of holes to fill.

But getting rid of a franchise QB and a potential franchise QB just because everyone else is clamoring for you to? That would be the most foolish mistake a team with already questionable judgment could make.

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