The Chat House

Michael Wilbon
Washington Post Sports Columnist
Monday, February 6, 2006; 1:15 PM

Welcome to another edition of The Chat House where Post columnist Michael Wilbon talked about the latest in sports news.

The transcript follows.

____________________ Michael Wilbon will be with us momentarily. Thank you for staying tuned ...


Washington, D.C.: There were some bad calls, yes, but Seattle did nothing to stop the Steelers. If a team needs help from the refs to win a game, than that team doesn't deserve to be in the Super Bowl. Seattle couldn't tackle Willie Parker during that 75 yard touchdown run, nor could they stop the flicker from Randle-El to Hines Ward.

Enough about the refs, Seattle got beat.

Michael Wilbon: Hey everybody...sorry I'm late but we can go a little longer...still in Detroit to do PTI and home tonight...We'll jump right in with this: more than one thing can be true about a game. Seattle blew chance after chance after chance...

And the refereeing was terrible. At least five and as many as seven calls went against Seattle that were dead-wrong, embarassingly wrong.

Willie Parker's run was fabulous.

Randle El's pass was even better.


Washington, D.C.: Mike-

Of all the questionable calls last night, I felt the most aggregious was the non-call of a horse-collar tackle on Shaun Alexander late in the game. That got a conversationg going among a few regular NFL watchers, none of whom could recall the penalty being called this year. Have you been witness to a horse-collar penalty this season?

Michael Wilbon: Funny you should mention that play. I thought it was a horse-collar tackle live and when I later saw replay...Anybody who thinks the officiating wasn't dreadful wasn't paying attention.


Rockville, Md.: I feel bad for the Seahawks fans. The Steelers made the plays they needed to win, and for that reason they deserve to be champions. But the officiating was reminiscent of the calls that Duke often gets in their basketball games. In addition to the dubious penalties against Seattle, are we to believe that the Steelers OL were never guilty of holding?

Michael Wilbon: The holding call made against Seattle that negated a gain to the Steelers 1-yard line and PRECEDED the Hasselbeck interception was simply not holding. John Madden said so during the telecase and you could see there was no holding, period. That assessment can be made on every single play from wasn't holding.


Columbia, Md.: Wilbon,

What was worse... the officiating or the Rolling Stones halftime performance?

Michael Wilbon: I didn't see the Stones because I started writing my column at halftime...And let me declare some baggage. I'm loathe to criticize the Stones because my childhood friend, Darryl Jones, is the Stones bass player and has been for I'm a little conflicted there...I just thought the NFL should have selected some of Detroit's finest singing talent, whether we're talking about Smoky Robinson or Stevie Wonder or Madonna or Eminem (okay, rap and not singing) or Bob Seger or the Isley Brothers or Anita Baker. There's something in Detroit for everybody and there was no need to go outside local talent, which is among the best in the world.


Washington D.C.: Thankfully Randle El wasn't hurt severly last night and was able to return to the game. What do you think the chances of him staying with the Steelers are, and do you think he might make the move to DC?

Michael Wilbon: I was thinking just that when he landed awkwardly around the head/neck early in the game...I was thinking 'Please don't let this kid get hurt in this game!' I don't know if he'll stay with the Steelers, but there is competition if the Redskins are seriously interested. Randle El is a Chicago kid, born and raised, and the Bears want him desperately. If money is fairly equal, I don't know how much the factor of "home" is an attraction or a hindrance.


Annapolis, Md.: Hi Wilbon, After the game, abc was showing Cowher waiting & looking to shake hands with Holmgren, but Mike never showed. I've not heard any news about it - did Holmgren walk off or were there too many ppl/equipment on the field for him to get over to shake Cowher's hand? It was great to see Cowher win!

Michael Wilbon: Good question...we're still trying to find an answer to that one. But afterward, Holmgren was exceptionally gracious with his praise of Cower.


Washington, D.C.: Yes, yes, I know everyone wants to talk about the Superbowl, but . . . . how about them Hoyas? Beating Pitt yesterday was huge. Are the Hoyas the type of team that could, realistically, make a deep run in the tournament (and, yes, I'm assuming they get there)? Or am I just looking through rose-colored glasses?

Michael Wilbon: The Hoyas are really, really something, aren't they? I must give credit to Mr. Tony on this one. In the first week of November he started touting Georgetown as a top 10 team. I thought he was on drugs, but apparently not...He said they'd be a top 15 team before March 1st (they should be today) and top 10 by the time the tournament started...I know he's seen them a lot more than I have, what with being on the road with the NFL playoffs, which now seem to last as long as the NBA playoffs. Mid-February? I want my college basketball! I'm so over pro football, as of last night. It wasn't a satisfying season for me, in terms of the quality of play, and the game was a snoozer. So, I'm jumping waist-deep in to college hoops starting Wednesday or Thursday, and I can't wait to see GU and GW play. Two teams in the top 15 around here is pretty damn cool.


Scottsdale, Ariz.: Is Daniel Snyder hindering Art Monk's HOF candidacy?

Michael Wilbon: Daniel Snyder's name doesn't come up in the fight over Art Monk in the HOF room. Why would it?


Re: Boring S-Bowl, How Bout Some Sean Taylor: Do you think Gibbs and the Skins have realistically faced the very possible situation that Sean Taylor will never play football again?

Michael Wilbon: I have no idea of the severity of the legal trouble Sean Taylor is in, beyond the nature of the charges. If I was a betting man, I wouldn't put any money on him doing a day of jail time.


Washington, D.C.: You mention in your article about the halftime selection. And yes, R&B, rappers, and various other artists (Madonna for sure) will be banned during halftime performances because of the Jackson/Timberlake thing. Meanwhile, my young/impressionable kids can watch a movie trailer during the 7 trillion commericals that shows explosions, pulled guns, and the line "if you are married, I'll find her and kill you in front of her."

Michael Wilbon: Good point...very good point...Are the impotence drugs still front-and-center on the Super Bowl telecase?


Royersford, Pa.: Wilbon, did Shaun Alexander really want to be there yesterday? He seemed to pull a "thurman thomas" act and not really contribute anything meaningful. Not exactly MVP material if you ask me.

Michael Wilbon: 20 carries for 95 yards against the Steelers run defense? I think you're pretty off-base on that one.


Richmond, Va.: Maybe I am getting carried away, but what do you think?

George Washington, George Mason make the tournament, Maryland misses the tournament. Georgetown makes the Sweet 16.

Michael Wilbon: Could be an accurate read. I want to know more about GW. But yeah, I think you've got it...Georgetown, from what we're seeing now, could go deeper than Sweet 16.


Baltimore, Md.: Why didn't Seattle give the ball to S. Alexander more often?I think he had around 20 touches. Definitely not enough for the league MVP.

Michael Wilbon: Now, you're talking.


Olney, Md.: Holmgren seemed a little confused at times ... Bad clock management at the end!!U could actually read his lips on that 4th down play ... He was asking some one to call a play!!!

Michael Wilbon: Holmgren hurt his team, the Packers, with bad clock management against the Broncos in the Super Bowl eight years ago...I don't get it. The clock management wasn't just bad, it was unforgivably bad...stupid bad.


Woodbridge, Va.: Michael,

How stupid does Jeremay Stevens feel after talking trash all week? If he catches two or three of those balls this game may have been different. I also agree the officiating was terrible. What about the 15 yards on Hasselbeck for making a tackle?

Michael Wilbon: Jerramy Stevens didn't trash talk. He said he expected to win the game. What else should he have said. "Oh no, go right Steelers...we're with you!" Now, Stevens' performance is a different matter. He stunk the place out like nobody's business...At least he said so afterward. Stood there and answered every question and said he stunk. But Joey Porter was the one who trashed talk and got his butt whippped by Seattle's left tackle, Walter Jones. Porter was a zero...


Gaithersburg, Md.: Mike, Thanks for chatting with us. What's up with the Terps? Are we seeing another end of the year collapse like last year? Will they make the NCAA tournament?

Michael Wilbon: The loss of Chris McCray to academic trouble cannot be overstated. He's a senior. And he's the team's most polished offensive player. And in college basketball, where guard play is paramount, losing him is a killer. I don't think Maryland is going to make it...I hope they do, but it's hard to see at this point.


Enid, Okla.: During your stay in Detroit, did you get to "HANG OUT" with Daryl Jones?

Michael Wilbon: No, I didn't. My younger brother and Darryl (I'm two years older than they are) actually played together in a little neighborhood band when we were all growing up. But I haven't seen him in awhile, though as you can imagine we're all damn proud of him. My brother has gone to more Stones concerts and had backstage passes...the whole nine yards.


HE HIT THE PYLON!!!: How the heck did the refs not review the TD down the sideline at the end of the half???? D-jackson (i think it was him) got his left leg in, and the right leg knocked the pylon over!!!!

That's a 10-7 seattle lead going into halftime. goodness the zebras blew this game.

Michael Wilbon: I've got to see that call again because people are telling me I'm wrong, but I thought the same thing you did. The exact same thing, that one foot was in bounds and the second foot kicked the pylon. I've got to see another replay. Either way, the officiating was too awful for words.


Scottsdale, Ariz.: Don't look now but Tiger is 2 for 2 in 2006. This could be a special year for him.

Michael Wilbon: Yeah, you're right...And I don't know that he thinks he played all that great yet...Scary...and something to really keep an eye on the next few weeks.


Louisville, Ky: After the opening quarter, it looked like it was going to be Seattle in a rout. They definitely looked more energized and confident. However, once a touchdown is taken away for no good reason, I can see how a team can get deflated quick.

And interceptions aside, I thought Hasselback elevated his game much more so than Roethlisburger. Do you think he's on the Brady/Manning level yet? Or about on par with Delhomme?

Michael Wilbon: I think Hasselbeck is a there with Delhomme, not Brady...And while Big Ben had a bad game yestereday, if you ask me what quarterback I'm taking right now, this moment, of all the guys in the NFL, I might take Roethlisberger right after Brady...Even when he's throwing badly he does stuff to help his team, like throwing the block that freed Randle El to complete that pass, like running successfully to convert third downs and score touchdowns. There's a difference between a passer and a quarterback. I like quarterbacks.


Footballs: I heard that the NFL uses a new football for every play in the first half??!! Why do they do this & why don't they let the home team "rub" them down before the game? Apparently it's very hard to get a good grip on the new balls. Anyway, it seems pretty stupid and I think it takes away from the game.

Michael Wilbon: I completely agree with you and think it's beyond stupid...Why do it? So there are more balls to be auctioned off or put in the Hall of Fame glass cases?


VA Beach, Va.: What are you covering in March....World Baseball Classic or the Conference/NCAA Tourneys???

Michael Wilbon: Wish I could do both, because unlike some writers, I love the idea of the international baseball tournament. But let's face it; college basketball is huge in D.C. so I'm going to NCAA games...But how I wish I could split time between the two.


McLean, Va.: Hi, Mike--

Just out of curiousity, how was this officiating crew chosen? Is this a crew that's worked together all year, or are they thrown together for one game? Is the selection based on merit, senority, or some other factor or combination of factors?

Michael Wilbon: Merit. The crews are all evaluated and chosen based on previous performance.


Boston, Mass.: How come Andre Tippett can't get any love from the HOF voters?

Michael Wilbon: Because, I think, he played on losing teams. I think Tippett should get serious consideration, yet he never even makes the top 25...Ron Borgeous of the Boston Globe feels very upset about it and makes a great case for Tippett that hasn't even gotten to the room for discussion yet.


Scottsdale, Ariz.: What will the reason/excuse be when D. Green doesn't get voted into the HOF?

Michael Wilbon: D. Green is going into the HOF on the very first vote, period.


RE: Shaun Alexander: "20 carries for 95 yards against the Steelers run defense? I think you're pretty off-base on that one. "

Good point, but was he a factor at all? Guy's not an impact player, IMHO.

Michael Wilbon: If he's not an impact player the how the hell did Seattle get to the Super Bowl with no great receivers? Don't be petty.


NY, NY: Mike,

RE: the Art Monk HOF question, Don Banks of SI mentioned that Dan Snyder's comments after the vote would only hurt Monk's candidacy.

Michael Wilbon: I don't care what anybody said. Monk didn't get in before whatever Snyder said, which I'm not even aware of. Snyder is of no consequence in the discussions in that room. I'm in the damn room and I have a good idea on why Monk isn't in. Half the people in the room consider Gary Clark a better receiver and don't think Monk was even the best receiver on the team. I strongly, passionately disagree with that. Monk and Michael Irvin, who should both be in, are pretty much the same guy when you look at the numbers and the results. But it's one man, one vote.


VA Beach, Va.: Thanks for answering my the way I wouldn't be surprised if the Dominican won the Classic!!! Just my opinion.

Michael Wilbon: Why would anybody be surprised, given the players from the Dominican?


Davidsonville, Md.: I am tired of hearing about officiating. Ben barely and just barely crossed the line in midair just prior to being pushed back by the seattle guy when as he was hitting the ground. you can see him go backwards and the ball lands 6 inches away, so he obviously was on the line when he was hit. it is not where he lands! It wasn't obvious that he didn't cross. Stop the replay in midair and look at it how the ref would. The refs almost jobbed pitts on Bens' third down run for a first at the end of the game, when the spot was about a yard short of where he landed. The TD was extremely close and was close on the replay. though it would have been an exciting 4th down. the push off in the end zone, while not major pushoff, was a push off, the arm extended and had the push off motion. it stopped the pittsburgh guy and provided separation. That is the definition of offensive interference and the ref had the guts to make the call. he was standing 3 feet away watching the play. heck it would have been a pushoff in basketball as well. lastly the holding was called prior to the throw, so its not like the refs called it on purpose to prevent the catch. it might just as easily been an incompletion. I am sure that just as many non-calls of holding happened in the game. Seattle lost on about 5 plays. the third down pass by Ben, the run, and the randal-el pass, in addition to the two plays called back by penalties.

Michael Wilbon: Dude, no dissertations in the Chat House, and you're wrong on half your points. I'll address one. On the Big Ben dive to score, the official (I'm guessing the side judge) ran four steps down the line and DIDN'T signal touchdown at the moment you're talking about. He waited until Big Ben was down before making the call. Had he seen what you seen, he would have signaled touchdown immediately, the instand he saw the ball break the plane...So you're not making sense on the very first point. The officiating was dreadful.


Arlington, Va.: I thought he should have made it in his first year of eligibility but will Thurman Thomas make it eventually?

Michael Wilbon: Let's get this straight. Nobody who was voted in Saturday was less deserving than somebody who was left out. I get hoarse every year trying to make the case for Monk, but he's not any more deserving than the six guys who got in, two of whom (John Madden and Rayfield Wright) were down to their last chance. I wish L.C. Greenwood of the Steelers, down to his last chance, had somehow gotten in, too. He, in my opinion, belongs.


Washington, D.C.: What are the factors keeping Monk out of the HOF? This is getting to be ridiculous. Peter King doesn't know a football from a baseball and is keeping a true great out of the Hall.

If the factors can't be overcome, why the charade every year?

Michael Wilbon: Your statement that my friend Peter King of Sports Illustrated doesn't know football is, well stuipid and ill-informed. I disagree with Peter on this issue. But it's a disagreement, and that's it. I just answered a question detailing the factors. And Peter King has one vote. So clearly there are others very much with him among the 39 men in the room.


Silver Spring, Md.: Wow. Randel El throw the best pass of anyone last night. Does he have any interest in playing QB? I would think some team might be interested in giving him a shot at least ... Maybe Atlanta picks him up and lets him work at both spots and then if Vick goes down ...

Michael Wilbon: No, just let Randle El do a little of everything, which he does fabulously. Catch, return punts, and throw when he has the element of surprise. He's something like 15 of 17 with four touchdown passes in his career. Hey, he was a QB in the Big Ten so it's not like he didn't have big-time talent. Seattle should learn to use Seneca Wallace in a similar capacity. The use of Randle El/Hines Ward/Cordell Stewart is why I think the Steelers coaches are superior in some areas.


Ashburn, Va.: "Merit. The crews are all evaluated and chosen based on previous performance."


Michael Wilbon: What, a good crew can't have a bad day? What are you suggesting, that they took a fix? It was dreadful, but it doesn't mean they're sinister.


Vienna, Va.: I know you field HOF questions frequently and here's another angle: I see real parallels with Art Monk's denial to Canton and Jim Rice's denial to Cooperstown. They seem to be similar athletes in terms of production (workhorses, un-flashy, excellent stats) and in terms of demeanor (quiet/taciturn, lead by example, etc.). Comments?

Michael Wilbon: I'm with you to a point. I think they're overt refusal to cooperate with the same media people that vote in Hall of Fame matters hurts them tremendously. Should it? No. Look, I have had social conversations with Monk, but NEVER talked to him for a story. Never. We've lived in the same town for 25 years and I've never talked to the guy with a notebook or a tape recorder. I don't talk to him now. I talk to Joe Gibbs about him, Russ Grim, Riggins, Sonny, Theismann, Parcells, Belichick...I've talked to Everson Walls about Monk, to Ronnie Lott...But Art Monk is invisible when it comes to dealing with media...So he ran the risk and so far is losing. Personally, I don't care if I ever talk to Monk about football or about his candidacy. He's deserving. He's over-the-top deserving. It's a no-brainer to me. But I suspect, though I've never heard it come out of anybody's mouth, that there are writers who whether they admit it to themselves or not hold it against Monk that he made it difficult for them to do their jobs.

So maybe there are consequences and Monk has himself to blame. Should it be that way? Absolutely not. Is it? Probably.


Washington, D.C.: Mike--

New AP poll out...Georgetown at 15, right behind Pitt at 14.

What is up with that?

Michael Wilbon: That stuff is always silly to me.


Vienna, Va.: Mike-

What's with all the Alexander bashing? I'm not a Seattle fan (go Tiki!), but the guy beats or threatens all kinds of records, plays almost every down, is durable, and rarely turns the ball over. Sounds like a pretty solid asset to me. Duh?!!

Michael Wilbon: I'm with you.


Scottsdale, AZ: What's the most rewarding aspect of your job?

Michael Wilbon: There isn't one aspect I'd put above the others. I like having access to people and conversations others' don't. That's what the media credentials gets you...behind the closed door. But I love the story telling element, which is why writers become journalists, usually. I love the travel, which to me is the most important form of education. I love the games, the events and being able to relate to people what it is I think is important about them.


Baltimore, Md.: Hey Mike,

There've been ten coaching openings - ten! - and, assuming the Raiders hire Ken Whisenhunt, the only minority hired is bascially a retread himself. Is it safe to say now that the Rooney Rule has, for all intents, failed? How do we get mediocre retread (Dick Jauron), unproven (Eric Mangini), and uninspired (Mike McCarthy, Sean Payton) hires, where the likes of Tim Lewis, Ted Cottrell, and oh yeah, Art Shell, get only vague consideration, if that? It's fast becoming a dog-and-pony show. Bottom line - isn't the best way to ensure more minority coaches get a fair shot is to somehow get more minorities involved in ownership, not some window-dressing rule that still, apparently, hasn't improved the situation that it was designed for?

Michael Wilbon: No, the Rooney Rule hasn't failed. It's has succeeded. There are six black coaches today, just a few short years after there were zero or one or two. No, the rule works despite the 0-for-9 season...Here's why: Herman Edwards. Herm, who I like tons, is part of a good old boy network now, the UCLA/Dick Vermeil/Carl Peterson network. That's progress. The Bill Parcells network, which is tied closely to the Bill Belichick network, has black coaches in it. Guys like Romeo Crenell have benefited because Dan Rooney, owner of the Steelers, forced open the interview process. Paul Tagliabue told Len Shapiro and me last week how disappointed he is with this off-season's hiring situation. I am...a little bit. But I see a bigger measure of progress I'm not sure the commissioner and others are seeing. I'm seeing black coaches become part of the good old boy network, and that CANNOT be a bad thing.

And if you read my columns from 10, 12 years ago, you know I've been very passionate about this issue for a long time.


Arlington, Va.: The myth about Duke "getting all the calls" has gotten absurd. So much so that idiotic and myopic Terrapin posters to your chat somehow bring Duke into a conversation about the Super Bowl. Watch a tape of the 2004 Final Four game with Duke and UCONN, and then tell me Duke gets all the calls.

Michael Wilbon: A little bit of time for the opposing view, and I believe well-stated...The notion that one team gets all the calls for years and years is absurd. Winners do get more calls. Better teams--and I think this is human nature--get more often a benefit of the doubt. Twenty-four years ago when I was covering the ACC for The Post, it was Carolina that was supposedly getting all the calls. So why wasn't it Duke then? Becuase Duke wasn't any good then and Carolina was. But the Maryland obsession with Duke is so childish and ignorant...I've got tons of friends, close ones, who are Maryland alums and I never know what to say to them with Maryland folk embarass themselves by complaining over Duke all the time. It's such an unattractive thing...for the whole school in general.


Scottsdale, Ariz.: Are you going to piece together a collection of your columns and make them into a book like your boy TK does?

Michael Wilbon: Naaaa...nobody wants to re-hash all that old stuff...unless there's good money involved. :)


Washington, D.C.: What do you think of Harry Carson's suggestion of only past NFL players and HOF inductees voting for who gets in the HOF? Personally I totally agree with him.

Michael Wilbon: Well, HOF inductees don't agree with Carson. I've talked to 25 of them, maybe more. Most don't want to do it. In fact, I don't think I've talked to a single one who wants to do it. Sat with two HOF inductees Saturday afternoon, one a Redskin and one a Cowboy, and both said, no way. They know how difficult it is. Again, I think Monk belongs. But Monk doesn't belong in one bit more than the guys who were selected Saturday. Of those 15 men, all belong, in my opinion. And of that 15, 13 of 14 might make it in...but they can't all make it at once. Only six could make it Saturday. It's the HOF,'s supposed to be hard. If it was easy, nobody would give a damn.


Scottsdale, Ariz.: So is John Madden more deserving now, than he was what 20 years ago, since he's been HOF eligible?

Michael Wilbon: Yes, in my opinion he is...even though I wasn't in the room 20 years ago (I've been a selector for 10 years). Madden's video game alone makes him more attractive as a candidate. While Major League Baseball struggles with 10 to 20 year olds, pro football doesn't And a big reason why, a huge reason, is because the kids love Madden Football from EA Sports. It's the No. 1 selling video in the country. Madden has connected pro football to a new generation of potential football fans. He's personally responsible. And that doesn't even include his work in the booth.

Look, in some ways John Madden is more closely associated with the NFL than any other person...All that has come about since his coaching career ended. Young players and young fans don't even know Madden was ever a coach. That's staying power the likes of which we've seen only from George Foreman. Madden's video, is Foreman's grill.


Washington, D.C.: "And Peter King has one vote. So clearly there are others very much with him among the 39 men in the room."

How many women in the room?

Michael Wilbon: None...And your point is what?


Gaithersburg, Md.: RE: THE Hall of Fame -- what do you mean by "down to their last chance" - do you only get a certain number of years?

Michael Wilbon: Yes...I believe it's 20. Then you have to be unearthed years later by a veteran's committee which tries to find people they believe were passed over.


Baltimore, Md.: Hey Mike, just a quick note on ACC officiating. The conference has suspended the officials for a bad call, get this, that went in Duke's favor against FSU. In case you missed it, an FSU player was called for a Technical after Shelden Williams bumped into his chest in what turned out to be a close Duke win.

Michael Wilbon: I didn't miss it. I saw it and thought it was a terrible call.


Buffalo, N.Y.: Do you think Thurman Thomas will get in the hall? Or is he hurt by playing in the same era as E. Smith and B. Sanders?

Michael Wilbon: I do think Thurman should and will get in...When, I don't know. But I believe he will be voted in.


Scottsdale, Ariz.: Who's the guest on PTI today?

Michael Wilbon: The one and only Ron Jaworski will help us break it down on PTI...And it's way past time that I go and get ready for today's show...So I'm out...Next week, we'll dive head-first into 1) college hooops 2) pro hoops 3) Tiger Woods and what he's done so far. Thanks everybody...The primary portion of football chat is this will anger your Redskins off-season fanatics to no end...but there's so much good stuff out there...Oooooops, I forgot about the Olympics being on-deck...So I may have to revise that short list...On the other hand, if Mike Wise and Sally Jenkins are coming at you with a live chat from Italy, then we'll just stay domestic here in the Chat House. 'Til Monday. MW


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