Andrew Luck pushed his dad to help ex-teammate land in XFL, and now he's back in the NFL with the Panthers
P.J. Walker has Andrew Luck to thank for his XFL chance, which brought him back to the NFL
Former Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck spent most of his NFL career terrorizing the city of Houston, as the Texans had to face off against him twice every season. In retirement, however, Luck gave the city a huge gift in the form of P.J. Walker -- the Houston Roughnecks' star quarterback who dominated the league for five weeks before the season was canceled due to the coronavirus.
Oliver Luck, Andrew's father, is the commissioner of the reborn XFL. One of the first and most important projects he had when it came to setting up the league was assigning quarterbacks for the inaugural season. According to the Houston Chronicle, Oliver told his attorney that he wanted Houston to "get that Indianapolis quarterback." He wasn't talking about his son, but about Walker.
Walker spent two seasons on the Colts' practice squad and got to know Luck fairly well. Because of that, Luck made his father aware of the hard-working kid out of Temple University, who is now rejoining his college coach Matt Rhule.
"Andrew had been pushing him to me," Oliver said. "He said, 'Dad, I'm telling you, this guy can play. He's a good kid and a hard worker, and he's hungry to play.'
"June (Jones) had the list of quarterbacks. He and (personnel director) Randy (Mueller) had scouted him. I was delighted they wanted P.J. Ultimately, that's the kind of guy that's perfect for our league and perfect for June because he fits June's system so well and has a chance to play and prove himself."
Prove himself is exactly what Walker did, weekly proving to be the best quarterback in the XFL. In the Roughnecks' 37-17 Week 1 win over the Los Angeles Wildcats, Walker completed 61 percent of his passes for 272 yards, four touchdowns and one interception. The offensive explosion earned him the first ever XFL Star of the Week award, and he put together another noteworthy performance in Week 2. In Sunday's 28-24 win over the St. Louis BattleHawks, Walker completed 65 percent of his passes for 170 yards and three touchdowns. There's no doubt he was the favorite for MVP when the league shut down.
Roughnecks head coach June Jones was not surprised to see his quarterback have immediate success in the XFL. He found out just how great Walker could be when Jones coached against him in college during his time at SMU.
"He played against us, and I was so impressed," Jones said.
In SMU's 59-49 victory, Walker threw for 293 yards and four touchdowns without an interception. Walker ended up leaving Temple as the Owls' all-time leader in pass attempts, completions, passing yards, touchdown passes and total offense. In 2015 and 2016, he led Temple to two of their three 10-win seasons and their first ever back-to-back bowl appearances in school history.
"I like his demeanor," Jones said of Walker. "Nothing bothers him. He's a real competitive player, and to do what we want him to do, you can't have a conscience. And he's got about as good an arm as anybody I've coached. The ball comes out fast with velocity, and he's learning to be more of a touch passer."
Now Walker moves on to Carolina, where he'll try to stick as the Panthers' No. 2 quarterback behind free-agent signing Teddy Bridgewater. And considering his domination of the XFL, nobody should count him out.
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