After the Indianapolis Colts finally recorded their first win of the season, a debate broke out across media forums: Andrew Luck vs. Russell Wilson. The conversation around the No. 1 overall draft pick or the later-round steal is of them possibly becoming the next generation’s Peyton Manning vs. Tom Brady.
It’s a fun debate with Wilson’s impeccable home record against Luck’s come-from-behind clutch reputation. There’s also Wilson’s Super Bowl ring or Luck’s two consecutive playoff trips with teams projected to finish last in the league, or close to it. And there’s Wilson’s “toughest division in football” against Luck’s iffy-at-best AFC South.
On my local CBS affiliate, Luck and Wilson’s games were on back to back, and it’s hard to believe the Colts gave the Denver Broncos as much trouble as they did in Week 1. This week, both the Broncos and Wilson’s Seattle Seahawks played in an entirely different universe of intensity. After watching the Colts’ early game, it was almost like comparing college football to pro. It’s technically the same game, but good grief, it is not the same game. It doesn’t even really look like the same game.
In the Colts’ defense, you can only play the opponent on your schedule, and the poor Jacksonville Jaguars continue to drown in the struggle pool. Luck’s services weren’t required for the entire game. He still put up 370 yards, four touchdowns and no turnovers before letting backup Matt Hasselbeck clean up. Wilson, however, fought through the entirety of the “Game of the Season” thus far, throwing for 258 yards, two touchdowns, one interception and a big, big overtime win. As a reminder, against the Broncos Luck’s numbers were 370 yards, two touchdowns, two interceptions and an almost-win, which is actually a loss.
Three years ago, we all expected to be debating “Luck vs. Griffin,” which makes Wilson’s entry into the conversation all the more delightful. But it will never become the next Manning vs. Brady because Luck and Wilson will never play each other on a yearly basis. And that’s a huge missed opportunity. If the NFL had fewer things going on, I’d encourage fans to petition for a shift in the scheduling rules, bridging the AFC/NFC divide to ensure Luck/Wilson annually during November sweeps. As it stands now, I couldn’t even find a picture of the two of them together, and I searched two different databases.
Given current scheduling procedures, the Colts and Seahawks will play each other once every four years. They played last season (Colts won), so they won’t play again until 2016. This is Peyton Manning‘s 17th season (16th, if you consider he missed one due to injury). If Luck and Wilson both manage to play 16 seasons, they’ll only play each other four times in their careers (year two, year six, year 10 and year 14). That’s assuming they’re both healthy at the time of each meeting (I once had the honor of watching Matt Cassel‘s New England Patriots lose in Indianapolis). They could meet additional times in Super Bowls, but we can’t count on it as part of a rivalry. Manning and Brady have played each other 15 times in their careers; only four of them were playoff games, and three of them were at least seven years ago.
The Luck/Wilson debate might seem like a fun exercise, but unless they actually play each other on some regular basis, it will never be a real rivalry. They’ll never push each other or be associated with each other in any tangible way. And that’s a shame.