(Editor's note: Art Thiel, Crosscut contributing sports editor, travels to the other Washington this weekend to bring you insights, updates and analysis of the Seahawks’ wild card playoff game on Sunday against the Redskins. Tune into Crosscut (and follow us on Twitter and Facebook) all weekend for updates.
Ali-Frazier, Chamberlain-Russell, Palmer-Nicklaus, Rice-Sanders, Federer-Nadal.
Where does Russell Wilson vs. Robert Griffin III fit in the sports pantheon of great individual rivalries? Well, nowhere — yet. But we'll all be checking in Sunday night on the topic, right? No reason not to get a head start now.
In this pursuit, we're on our own. We'll get no help from the participants.
“I try to stay away from that kind of stuff," Griffin said Wednesday on a teleconference. "I feel like the media is going to do all the comparisons, so it’s not my job to try to compare me and Russell. I’ve told people many times, and it’s an old cliché, you never play quarterbacks in this league as a quarterback, you play defenses."
Of course, he's right. He plays, media and fans compare. It's been the sporting deal for some time now. What Griffin, Wilson and all athletes preparing for the crucible don't recall from their childhoods is that anticipation is the intoxicant of sports competition. Imagination can make many of us dizzy fast.
It's why we drink . . . er, watch.
The matchup of the Seahawks and Redskins Sunday will providentially bring together, for the first time, two of the most remarkable figures of the NFL season. Of course as quarterbacks they don't play against each other. But that won't stop Seahawks and Redskins fans from imagining years of success starting Sunday.
Under the sign marked "Hyperbole," feel free to hit the big red button. Let the ooga horn wail. As a culture absorbed with The Next Big Thing, Russell vs. Griffin is it, at least for the first week of 2013. The Highly Ambulatory Killer App.
This is not intended to slight Indianapolis's Andrew Luck, who is also a rookie, also a QB and having a superb season leading the Indianapolis Colts to the playoffs. But since three-sided football has yet to be invented, it's a little hard. Still, we'll try.
For a look at the comparative numbers of all three, Sportspress Northwest offers this chart here.
For a comparative NFL history of debut seasons with young quarterbacks, Redskins coach Mike Shanahan offers this observation. "This year is really different," he said. "If you take a look at the last 40 years and first-round draft choices, there’s only seven quarterbacks with a winning record. Seven in 40 years. There's a lot of Hall of Fame players in there, and we have three this year. That is quite unusual."
"I think it has something to do with colleges preparing these guys better for the pro game a lot more. They’re throwing [more] at the college level. I think we [in the NFL] have a little more time to spend with players in the off-season, with meetings and then training camp to get somebody ready."
To turn up the hyperbole, we offer the views of the Jedi master of the exclamation point-as-light-saber, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll.
"Luck is a classic quarterback. He’s got everything you want. He’s maybe 250 pounds — big and strong and fast for a big dude. He’s been ahead of his time since he was in college. More so than the other two guys, [the Colts have] really been committed to the throwing game.
RG III, he has all of those [TV] commercials for a reason. He’s been just incredible. Even now, coming back from injury, he’s still playing well and still executing great game plans. He’s just an amazing player. All three of these guys have great accuracy for young guys. In particular, Robert has had a great year in completion percentage — over 70 percent for a lot of the season, which is amazing. Then he rushed for 800 yards. He’s been incredible.
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