Since the Heisman Trophy voting last year and throughout the draft process and the NFL regular season, we all assumed that the top two selections -- Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III -- would be intrinsically connected their entire careers, measured against each other with every step.
But heading into Sunday's playoff game between the Washington Redskins and the Seattle Seahawks at FedEx Field, it turns out we weren't paying attention to what may be the true rivalry: RGIII vs. Seahawks rookie quarterback Russell Wilson.
Luck plays for the Indianapolis Colts of the AFC. Save for the occasion regular-season game, the only time RGIII and Luck are going to duel is if they happen to meet in the Super Bowl.
Wilson plays for Seattle of the NFC, and there is a far better chance he and RGIII could meet in playoff contests for years to come.
RGIII and Luck got all the headlines, but Wilson's might be the most remarkable rookie quarterback performance of all. He led the Seahawks to an 11-5 record and helped turn Seattle into one of the most feared offenses in the league.
RGIII was the Heisman Trophy winner and the No. 2 pick in the draft. He was handed the starting quarterback job by Redskins coach Mike Shanahan the minute training camp started.
Everyone looked for reasons Wilson would not succeed in the NFL coming out of Wisconsin. He is listed at 5-foot-11 but may not even be that tall. He was drafted in the third round, 75th overall, by a team that already had signed highly regarded Packers backup Matt Flynn to a three-year, $19.5 million contract -- with $10 million guaranteed.
By the end of training camp, the high-priced veteran was Wilson's backup.
Ironically, if Wilson still had been on the board when the Redskins' fourth-round selection came up, Shanahan would have picked Wilson instead of Kirk Cousins, according to some reports.
That might have made for a hell of a quarterback competition.
We are talking about slight degrees of unprecedented rookie excellence here. Griffin started 15 regular-season games and threw for 3,200 yards, 20 touchdowns and just five interceptions for a quarterback rating of 102.4. He also rushed for 815 yards, averaging 6.8 yards per carry, and scored seven touchdowns.
Wilson started 16 games and threw for 3,118 yards, 26 touchdowns and 10 interceptions for a quarterback rating of 100.0. He also rushed for 489 yards, averaging 5.2 yards per carry, and scored four touchdowns.
When RGIII and Luck finished 1-2 in the Heisman voting a year ago, Wilson was an afterthought, finishing ninth. That's no longer the case. All three are vying for rookie of the year honors -- and perhaps NFL MVP awards for years to come.
But it may be RGIII and Wilson -- and not RGIII and Luck -- whose competition may define the NFL in the future.