The Chat House

Michael Wilbon
Washington Post Sports Columnist
Monday, October 23, 2006; 1:15 PM

Welcome to another edition of The Chat House where Post columnist Michael Wilbon was online Monday, Oct. 23, at 1:15 p.m. ET to take your questions and comments about the latest sports news and his recent columns .

The transcript follows .


Raleigh, N.C.: With the game out of reach late in the second half yesterday, why didn't Joe Gibbs give some snaps to Jason Campbell? If he is the future, shouldn't they be getting him some experience on the field?

Michael Wilbon: Hi everybody, from Dallas. We'll jump right into the Redskins debacle yesterday...And I have NO idea why the Redskins didn't get Jason Campbell into the game. Mark Brunell played pretty well early (8-for-11 to start) but he couldn't get anything going in the second half...and it's not like letting Campbell play equals giving up on the game or the season. Letting Brunell stay in the game at all costs seems to be incredibly short-sighted. I'm not even suggesting Brunell should be benched. Just get Campbell in the game and see what's he got. Thing is, at 2-5 with a dreadful defense (and isn't that a stunner!) the Redskins have no playoff chances worth even entertaining right now. Think of how many teams in the NFC (Bears, Giants, Saints, Seahawks, Falcons, Panthers, Eagles, Cowboys, Rams, Vikings) look so much better than the Redskins.


Washington, D.C.: Mike, you can't miss another "Redskins Report." You're the only voice of reason on that show! How can all four of them have picked the Redskins to win?! You need to knock some sense into those guys!

Do you foresee giant changes for the Dallas game? Or, are we doomed to see a repeat of the last couple games?

Michael Wilbon: I'll be back this week...and I PROMISE you I'll kill those guys for all picking the Redskins. IN INDY? After a Colts bye week to prepare? But hey, they're former Redskins so I guess I understand. And George might as well be. I can't wait for this week's show.


Somewhere only I know: Big Ben Roethlisberger is just not having a good year on and off the field. Have you heard anything about his injury, was it a concussion, is there a timetable? Also when is Trent Green coming back?

Michael Wilbon: Trent Green is practicing, but will not play this week, reportedly. And team officials haven't yet said what Big Ben's injury was, but we know it was head injury and that is supposed to be announced around 3 p.m. today...Big Ben seems jinxed since winning the Super Bowl, doesn't he? Actually, Charlie Batch was really good in long relief, but Ben has to be in there and healthy for the Steelers to play like champs for the long haul.


NFC East cellar: Michael, you know a lot about the Bears, so can you please answer me this: Is it true that one of the brains behind Chicago's personnel moves is a former Redskins staffer who is actually a D.C.-area native? Who is he and why isn't he the Redskins GM yet? (Well, actually, don't answer the last part, I already know it's because our owner likes to play GM.)

Michael Wilbon: Bobby DePaul is the name of the Bears executive, and yes, he's done a very, very good job with personnel in Chicago. And yes, he did work for the Redskins. He played his college ball at Maryland. Played linebacker during the Bobby Ross era. I got to know Bobby DePaul then, 20 years ago, and have kept up with him ever since. He's a very bright, very energetic, hard-working guy who is respected in personnel circles. Seems he's made some good choices for the Bears, doesn't it?


Cape Coral, Fla.: After the debacle against the Bears and the complete lack of effort yesterday against the Raiders, will Dennis Green remain the coach in Arizona?

Michael Wilbon: Isn't that one of the big questions of the day! If he survives today, then I would think the Cardinals would wait until the season is over before doing anything. Goodness, what a tumble that team has taken. The Cards should have been 3-2 going into the Bears game...but now they're 1-6, looked like they gave up yesterday...The head coach has to take the rap for that...


Chicago: After last Monday's game, are you more hopeful about the Bears because they came back and won, or less hopeful because they showed some flaws?

Michael Wilbon: I'm still wrestling with that. I like that the defense and special teams wouldn't let the team lose. But, Grossman was so bad and the play-calling (Ron Turner, by the way has been fabulous) was so pass-happy it was silly. But when you're defense and specials are that usually means good things for a team, even one that might still be offensively-challenged.


Brunswick, Md.: Mike,

Love your columns,

Joe Gibbs's Redskins teams of the 1980s were smart and disciplined. Yesterday, Antwaan Randle El, Santana Moss and Derrick Frost all had idiotic penalties and Brandon Lloyd had a conniption on the sidelines. The team appears to be on the verge of a collective meltdown. I wonder if they are cracking under the pressure of the high expectations as their dreams of a Super Bowl have disintegrated before our eyes.

Has Gibbs lost the touch with players that brought out the best in them in the '80s?

Michael Wilbon: I think it simply means the Redskins have players who act a fool too often. Why make it mean more than that? Just about every team has that element these days. I hate it, and I'm sure Gibbs hates it. But if he tries to field a team without drama queens he'll need to play seven-on-seven.


Washington, D.C.: This might sound like the ultimate example of a backhanded compliment, but there have been very few, if any, better regular-season quarterbacks in NFL history than Peyton Manning. Would that be a fair statement?

Michael Wilbon: Yeah, that's probably fair. But there are a handful...Elway, Montana, Young, Aikman, Favre, Kelly, Moon, Marino...And that's just from the last generation...But as he keeps going he inserts himself further into the conversation.


Dave, D.C.: Well...what are your thoughts about the Gambler and the infamous brown splotch? Every other sports writer seems to have an opinion. What do you think? Should he be (pine) tarred and feathered?

Michael Wilbon: If the splotch was discovered in the second inning and he pitched eight innings of shutout ball, how big a deal could it have been? Anyway, baseball embraces cheating. It's part of the game's lore...spitters and carving up the ball and sign-stealing and pine-tar and the like. I wouldn't doubt Rogers tries to cheat...But that's the culture of baseball. Would you be so surprised?


Burtonsville, Md.: With the FSU Boosters calling for Bobby Bowden to retire, what do you think should/will happen? It seems as if they are not coaching those kids anymore and trying to rely strictly on their athletic ability.

Michael Wilbon: I think coaching after 70 is risky...And while Paterno and Bowden have had successful seasons after 70, they know the game, what's at stake, and that high-profile sports are always defined by what you've done for your team this morning. I can't say I'm shocked by what's going on at FSU, on the field or the reaction to it off the field. I would try and see if Bowden can straighten it out next season before doing anything. He's earned it. Two national championships? What else has FSU done? Where were they before Bowden?


Blacksburg, Va.: Hey Wilbon,

I love these weekly chats and watch PTI daily! With the Wizards opening the season against King James and the Cavs soon I had a few Q's for you. Do you feel that DeShawn Stevenson will be able to fill the rebounding and defensive void left by Jared Jeffries? How large of a role do you see Jarvis Hayes playing this season? And if you had to choose between Brendan Haywood or Etan Thomas, which would you start? Thanks Mike....GO WIZ!!!

Michael Wilbon: I'd start Haywood. I think Stevenson is a slight upgrade for defending swingmen but the loss of Darius Songaila is a real downer. The Wizards need him. I think the Wizards, if everything goes well (especially health) should challenge a Miami team I see sinking a bit for the division title. I could see the Wiz winning 48-51 games. But Arenas, Jamison, Butler and all the big men HAVE to stay healthy.


Arlington, Va.: Mike - Do you think the disastrous start to this season (and ridiculous front-office moves such as trading a third-round pick for T.J. Duckett) will finally convince Joe Gibbs and Dan Snyder that you have to build through the draft and fill your roster with guys fighting for big paydays?

Michael Wilbon: It should, but I don't know that it will. And I would think Joe Gibbs already knows that, right? Yet, we agree. You need role players and guys who are not stars. That's part of building team chemistry. If everybody is a star, you've got problems. Ask the Yankees.


Scottsdale, Ariz.: What's up with your boy Donovan McNabb throwing up every game?

Michael Wilbon: Egg nog...It's too early to be drinking that stuff...which I told Donovan.


Scottsdale, Ariz.: Let's talk some Bullets hoops! What's up with those alternate colored gold jerseys?

Michael Wilbon: I haven't seen them yet. Do people like the third jersey?


College Park, Md.: Are you surprised Shawne Merriman was caught using steroids? In this day and age no one is above suspicion, and he is so massive he could probably get away with taking Barbaro's prescriptions. Still, being a fellow Terp, it did take me back a little.

Michael Wilbon: I wasn't shocked. Then again, I'm hardly ever shocked by this kind of news anymore. I don't know what to think about Merriman. Off the field, the guy is heroic. Seriously, do you know his story? He's given his own money to save homeless shelters and provide educational and recreational chances for children. The guy is AMAZING off the field...But now, there's this. So, what are we to think about Merriman? If this was baseball and a prominent player people would be up in arms but mostly because of baseball being so slavishly devoted to numbers. Still, losing Merriman for one-quarter of the season is a huge blow to the Chargers' chances.


Rockville, MD: Which hit looked more painful? Manning almost getting his head taken off by Daniels or Portis getting helmet-butted square in the groin? Ouch...

Michael Wilbon: Manning...By a hundred miles.


Baltimore: Okay, we all know the 'Skins have numerous issues, and the QB issue just won't go away. But I haven't heard anyone discuss the play of Chris Samuels. Since the playoffs last year, he has been underachieving. Dwight Freeney pushed him all over the field yesterday, and Freeney is a speed guy, not a power guy. This is disgraceful for the money he's being paid! Bench him or get rid of him. He's too inconsistent.

Michael Wilbon: Good and fair point. Samuels hasn't been what he was his first few seasons. And the offensive line, in general, has been underachieving. I'm with you on this. And when you don't spend a third-round pick on a guy you don't play (Duckett) then perhaps you spend that pick on a lineman...Ooops, they don't have the pick.


Nashville, Tenn.: Mr. Wilbon:

Okay -- who do you like? Louisville or West Virginia?

Michael Wilbon: ooooooh, good question. I think Louisville. But I'm not about to take that game to the bank. What, no love for Rutgers? Kudos to the Big East, the league a lot of people wanted out of the BCS scenario after the league lost Miami and others.


Donovan: I saw a comment somewhere that throwing up wasn't even Donovan's worst toss of the day.

What a great finish to that game, though, huh?

Michael Wilbon: Hey, as badly as Donovan played, he had them ahead with less than a minute to play and the special teams and defense were atrocious. How pitiful was that defense?


Throwing Up: Glenn Hall one of the greatest goalies in hockey history was nicknamed "Buckets" because he puked just about every game he played in.

So McNabb is in fine company.

Michael Wilbon: I love historical references in the Chat House. Very nice, indeed. Thanks for that.


Baltimore: Thanks for taking time to answer questions.

With all the circus acts that Mike Tyson has pulled off over the last decade or so, what do you think about the latest news of him possibly fighting women? How does this rank on his list of debacles? Thanks.

Michael Wilbon: I've simply reached the point where I pay absolutely no attention to Mike Tyson in the context of professional athletics. From here on in, it's a circus and I'm either amused or I just shut it out. It's a clown show...It's nonsense.


Wiz in Gold: I like it, but I like that Gilbert really wants to return to the red white and blue, which I agree. Still have no idea why they are the Wizards.

Michael Wilbon: Neither do most of the rest of us.


Royersford, Pa.: Wilbon, why are there so few black kickers or punters in the NFL?

Michael Wilbon: It's not what most black kids want to do when they're playing sandlot and high school football.


Northern Virginia: I know one player doesn't make a team, but what do you think the 'Skins and Bears would look like today if Washington had decided to draft Brian Urlacher instead of LaVar Arrington years back when we had the second and third picks in the draft?

Michael Wilbon: It's always dangerous to play with those switches, but fun to speculate over...If Urlacher had played for a franchise as dysfunctional as the one Arrington played for, who knows? Urlacher didn't have five different defensive coaches in his first five years in the league. Arrington did. And I think that makes a huge difference in a player's maturation.


Herndon, Va.: And let us not forget Bill Russell, who threw up before every big game. Red Auerbach, on occasion, would order him back to the restroom if he hadn't thrown up. Tradition, tradition!

Michael Wilbon: Now you're talking!


Herndon, Va.: Mr. Mike: Which was more surprising, "your" Bears coming from 20 points behind to win without any offensive points, or "your" NU Wildcats blowing a 38-3 third-quarter lead to lose to MSU?

Michael Wilbon: Oh, the Bears coming from behind to win without an offensive touchdown...No question. Northwestern already holds a bushel full of NCAA Division I-A football records we're ashamed of...Granted, the team has been so much more respectable (four or five bowl bids the last 11 years)...we'd gotten away from those weekly humiliations...This just felt like every week when I was in school there...Boy, that's a tough one. But from the half-full department, I didn't think we could score 38. And that was in a kid's debut at quarterback...Maybe it's something to start from.


Arlington, Va.: You said in response to a Redskins team building question:

"That's part of building team chemistry. If everybody is a star, you've got problems. Ask the Yankees."

One HUGE difference, though, between the Redskins and Yankees - - the Yankees are competitive virtually every year, and the Redskins are NON-competitive virtually every year.

Michael Wilbon: Yeah, but football is a sport of momentum much more than baseball where pitching distorts everything. I'm not saying the two are identical. I just think there are some similarities. Both, considering the way they've been built, dismiss the need for players whose contributions are more subtle, and whose personalities are not mega-watt but nonetheless critical to the way a championship-caliber team functions. I think that's the larger point.


Cape Coral, Fla.: Okay Wilbon, be honest, how many times have you thrown up before writing an article or working with Tony??

Michael Wilbon: I've thrown up--and I know everybody's just hanging on every word of this answer--twice since I was 6. Food poisoning my junior year at Northwestern...I was 19...And after knee surgery I took some Percocet without food and had to be rushed to the hospital...That's it. Twice the last 41 years. So, I don't get the throwing-up stuff...don't get it at all.


Arlington, Va.: Hey Mike,

Just wondering who the funniest athlete you have covered over the course of your career is? Maybe someone who doesn't/didn't take himself too seriously. Thanks!

Michael Wilbon: Charles Barkley, hands down. Ask anybody who's covered him and the answer you will get is, Charles Barkley.


Columbia, Md.: Brian Westbrook, Michael Vick, Hines Ward, Ronde Barber, Steve Smith, Lawrence Tynes, Morten Anderson and Matt Bryant made for a great afternoon of football watching yesterday. Then the Redskins took the field at 4 p.m. and ruined the afternoon with such a pathetic showing. Must we dwell on such a horrible looking team a day after we had some great performances (by winning AND losing teams) yesterday?

Michael Wilbon: Hey, this is the, so more people want to discuss the going-on pertaining to the Redskins than any other team. It was a great day of football, especially the early games; the 4 p.m. games weren't much to rehash. But yeah, Vick was fabulous and that game was chock-full of drama. The Barber-McNabb game was great and had the ending to match. Look, the great thing about not attending every Redskins game anymore is I get to see ALL of the NFL games, which is really good for perspective when commenting on any one team. I watched 70 percent of the snaps in the Redskins-Colts game...which was certainly enough.


Scottsdale, Ariz.: You didn't throw up after the Bartman game? I'm impressed.

Michael Wilbon: No, I threw things after the Bartman game.


Al - D.C.: We'd all be remiss if we didn't remember Rod Strickland puking up hot dogs during Bullets games.

Michael Wilbon: Yes, and that would often happen on the bench, after Rod ate hot dogs from the press room, sometimes with reporters. This is an actual conversation from a Rod Strickland hot dog grab one night.

Reporter: Rod, you can't eat that. You'll get sick and throw up!

Rod: I know. Won't be the first time...or the last...Can you slide me that mustard?


Joe (N.Y.): Any comment on Scoop Jackson vs. Jason Whitlock debate now that it has settled down a bit? I would be very interested in your take on it.

Michael Wilbon: Nope...I'm sorry. I know I sorta promised. After the Bears-Cardinals game last Monday Night, I spent a few days playing golf and relaxing in Scottsdale...I never take time off during football season, but I did take a few days last week and didn't call either guy. Sorry. Went to see the Suns-Kings one night...It was a choice of talking to Nash/Diaw/Marion/Stoudemire/D'Antoni or Whitlock/Scoop...I think I made the right choice.


Scottsdale, Ariz.: Will T.O. pull any stunts on MNF tonight?

Michael Wilbon: I don't think so...Just a hunch. I think he'll behave, except in the end zone should he get there.


Washington, D.C.: Hey Mike, thanks for having this chat. Without a GM, the structure of the 'Skins' front office seems very confusing. Doc Walker made an interesting point last night that if Dan Snyder is in fact a key-decision maker in regards to player personnel, then he should be more accessible to the media to help answer for the team's personnel decisions. I did notice that Jerry Jones put himself out there a bit when the Cowboys acquired T.O. Do you think Dan Snyder should also put himself out there a little more? And if that happened, how long before the media finds out he's not really a football guy?

Michael Wilbon: I'm under the impression that Joe Gibbs is making these decisions, with input from Vinny Cerato and other scouts and personnel people. There was a time when clearly Danny Snyder was very, very involved. But I don't know that's still the case. I take Joe Gibbs at his word that these are his decisions, and if so, he should be held responsible. People grew so accustomed to blaming Snyder that they still do, even though there's no more evidence he still inserts himself into these situations the way he did when Norv and Steve Spurrier were the head coaches.


D.C.: Barkley!! Funnier than Riggo? Come on Wilbon, at least tell us John is a close second.

Michael Wilbon: I didn't cover John Riggins. John was retiring about the time I started to cover pro sports. John Riggins, who I have worked with for 10 years, is the smartest and funniest guy imaginable. Charles and John are both hysterically funny, and funnier when the light is on, just going into the break, than anybody. They're brilliant at it. I feel fortunate that I've gotten to be around two men that funny...and insightfully funny. Unlike, say, Dennis Miller, Charles and John are funny in the context of sports, and more specifically, funny in the context of the event they're commenting on that night. It's very, very, very rare.


Arlington, Va.: I take it, if you've only thrown up twice in your life, you stay away from the sauce?

Michael Wilbon: Pina coladas and strawberry frozen things for me...well that and Kir Royales...The next time I'm drunk will be the first...and the thought of throwing up is part of the reason I have no interest, thank you.


Baltimore: Wilbon, great chat so far, you haven't had to call anyone a moron yet! Have the questions improved or are you just more mellow today?

Michael Wilbon: All that sunshine in Arizona calms me down for a few days. I'll get riled up next week. You know what, I'm surprised the Redskins outrage has died down a bit. I think people are feeling so beaten down they don't bother. That, and they probably go to the Redskins chats where the reporters are more tolerant and less insulting! Ha!


Naples, Fla: Will the new NBA rule about "whining" apply to owners like Mark Cuban??

Michael Wilbon: You know, that's a great question. I'm betting the agreement covers only the players. But it should extend to any club personnel within 50 feet of the floor. I like Cuban...I mean, really like him. But I hate that behavior that's pointed at the zebras, no matter where it comes from.


Washington, D.C.: Hey, Mike. How about a little PTI-style Role Play? You're Jason Campbell. You're in your second year, haven't taken a single snap, and your team is doing lousy. Meanwhile, Vince Young and Matt Leinart are starting for their respective teams as rookies, and generally getting good reviews. How does that make you feel?

Michael Wilbon: It makes me feel frustrated...I see those guys at least starting their evolution as starting quarterbacks, and I'm not happy to be sitting behind a guy who clearly isn't the franchise quarterback of the future. Put me in coach, I'm ready to play!


Bluffton, S.C.: Regarding Campbell not playing: I believe he was the No. 3 QB yesterday, or basically inactive. Couldn't play unless QBs 1 and 2 are injured.

Michael Wilbon: Yes, that's true. And I think it's insane. Totally and completely insane!

Okay, gotta run. Must get inside Texas Stadium to get ready for today's PTI battle with Mr. Tony. It's going to be 55 degrees and completely clear tonight for the Cowboys-Giants tilt. Until next week, when we will have a World Series winner and be looking squarely at the beginning of the NBA season, for which I can hardly wait....Thanks everybody. Have a great week. MW


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