The Chat House

Michael Wilbon
Washington Post Sports Columnist
Monday, February 5, 2007; 1:15 PM

Welcome to another edition of The Chat House where Post columnist Michael Wilbon was online Tuesday, Feb. 5, at 1:15 p.m. ET to take your questions and comments about the latest sports news and his recent columns.

The transcript follows.


Arlington, Va.: Where would you rate the level of play in this Super Bowl versus those you have seen before?

Michael Wilbon: Hello Everybody...Sorta tough day for me to be in the Chat House...but my bad mood is lessened a lot by the fact that two of my favorite people in sports -- Tony Dungy and Peyton Manning -- won a Super Bowl and will forever more be NFL champions...As to the level of play, it wasn't up to the standards of previous Super Bowls largely because of the weather. It was the first Super Bowl in history where there was rain...and that contributed clearly to the turnovers for both teams...


Boise, Idaho: Do you think the Bears would have won with Jeff Garcia at QB?

Michael Wilbon: We would have had a much better chance with Garcia...much better. The notion that Rex is a young quarterback needs to be put to bed...Rex doesn't have the instincts or the physical attributes it takes to be a championship quarterback...Garcia does, but he's 36 years old or somewhere close to that...He can help a good team but can't carry a bad team, which we saw in Detroit and Cleveland from him...Would I take him next season? I'd pay for his flight to Chicago...


Philadelphia: Michael, there was a lot of talk during the broadcast about how "classy" Tony Dungy and Lovie Smith were. Do you regard that as the same kind of backhanded insult as calling Barack Obama "articulate", or am I being overly sensitive? It just shouldn't sound like a fluke that two black head coaches happen to be professional at their jobs.

Michael Wilbon: Great question...Nobody EVER calls a white person "articulate." It's reserved for black folks who command the language...But I don't see "classy" the same way...Dungy and Lovie are that way, in large part because of demeanor and the respect they extend to everyone around them....You don't often hear "classy" used to describe Bill Parcells or Bob Knight...because they demonstrate classlessness on a regular basis. Dungy and Lovie don't...But I'd extend "classy" to a lot of people, to quite a few coaches, including many I've covered like Bobby Ross and Norv Turner among others...


Washington, D.C.: Do you think the bad weather's effect on play at the Super Bowl has killed even any remote hope Dan Snyder might have had of bringing a Super Bowl to FedEx Field?

Michael Wilbon: Will rain in Miami mean the Super Bowl will never return to Miami? No. It could rain in the desert next year at the Super Bowl in Arizona, because while it's pretty dry there in January, February is a rain month in Arizona. Personally, I liked seeing the rain. But it's not rain that's a problem for Washington; it's the possibility of wintry mix, snow, or as we're seeing today, an 18-degree day. NO COLD WEATHER CITY should ever, ever, ever have a Super Bowl.


Alabama: Steelers fan here. This talk of canning Rex Grossman is insane. Lousy game, granted, and maybe he should have competition in training camp, but the kid helped lead the Bears to a Super Bowl, and when he's good, he's brilliant. As much as the loss hurts, Bears fans have to realize QBs can take years to develop, and trashing Grossman now would be a step back.

Michael Wilbon: He's never brilliant, but you make a good point otherwise. He should have competition in training camp...But he did have a great season. The problem for Rex is whether he can live in a place where the local fans, increasingly, hate him. It's okay if you're a tackle or a cornerback...But QB? I don't think it's going to work for Rex in Chicago unless the kid improves dramatically...And that's going to be difficult four years into your career.


Washington, D.C.: Did you get a chance to talk to any of the Colts about Edge?? He's got to be somewhat bitter that he missed out on the Super Bowl played in his college stadium! I guess he has lots of money to comfort him though.

Michael Wilbon: I did...And Edge indeed feels left out, and I understand that. And it's why Peyton and Dungy and all the Colts went WAY out of their way to talk about Edge during the week...By the way, The U. plays its home games, still, in the Orange Bowl...not in Dolphins Stadium.


Frederick, Md.: Norman Chad had a pretty good line today: "You can take the Bears out of the NFC, but you can't take the NFC out of the Bears. Trust me -- the AFC is much, much better...."

Michael Wilbon: I love Norman, but that's nothing we haven't known all season...or all of last season. But these things are so cyclical. It used to be, for nearly two decades, that the NFC teams dominated...Nothing lasts forever. Or for long.


Sorry about the Bears: Question: in the annals of Super Bowl and televised history, where does Prince's performance stand? Is it only the greatest Super Bowl halftime musical performance? Or could it also be the greatest televised musical performance ever seen on any television station?

What was it like to see it in person?

Michael Wilbon: I don't spend a lot of time at Super Bowls -- and I've covered 21 of them -- watching the halftime because so many have no appeal to me, like all the rock stuff because I don't know from rock music...So, I'll just say Prince was a thrill for me...But I'm a Prince fan and have been for 25 years. Prince, on four-inch heels with an electric guitar in the rain, surrounded by fabulous looking twins. Are you kidding me?


Charlotte, N.C.: Michael, this is a non Super Bowl related question but what are your thoughts on the NBA's inconsistent handling of the Kobe suspension when LeBron and Ginobili committed similar acts within the same week?

Michael Wilbon: I didn't think Kobe should have been suspended and I KNOW LeBron shouldn't have been, considering his reaction even as his arm was coming underneath Wade's neck. These guys are moving at 100 mph. Anybody who thinks, even with their great body control, that they can calibrate every movement of all four limbs is a fool. Collisions are going to happen in basketball and to suspend somebody for every hard foul is unbelievable...


D.C.: Peyton Manning is kind of odd on the sideline. Not really the cool, confident, calm demeanor of a field general that you see in a lot of QBs, but twitchy, frustrated, and seemingly in his own world. He seems unhappy even when things are going well. That last part is not unlike Tony.

Any insights on how his teammates deal with that demeanor?

Michael Wilbon: Great observation...very good. They tolerate that stuff because he's the great Peyton Manning. And you have to forgive people their eccentricities because everybody on a team has something that drives teammates crazy.


Herndon, Va.: Mr. Mike: Some NBA -- right now, not later -- the Suns or the Mavericks?

Michael Wilbon: Right now, Mavericks...But I would have said that after they had a 2-0 lead in the Finals last year, too. Wouldn't you? How'd that turn out. The thing about the NBA, and if you're a fan of pro basketball you already know this, is it's a marathon, not a sprint like pro football. I appreciate each sport for what it is and how it is supposed to play out. So, the Mavs being better than the Suns today means nothing in terms of how the season is going to play out.


Martha's Vineyard: Which system do you think is the biggest joke:

BCS voting or Hall Of Fame voting?

Michael Wilbon: BCS...And I'll grant you the HOF voting is frustrating for me, and I was IN THE ROOM VOTING for 10 years. But the BCS is guaranteed to be awful and we know there is a better way: a playoff. HOF in every sport is about voting, a process that never satisfies. But what's the alternative to a voting process? Would including former players help? Probably. Fans? No chance. Fans, as a group, aren't even smart enough to vote Steve Nash onto the NBA All-Star team. A diverse panel? Maybe...But both can be very, very frustrating.


Arlington, Va.: I agree with your comments regarding Coach Dungy, and I do like what I know about Peyton Manning. What will be the next steps for them in order to maintain or improve the Colts enough to have a chance to make it back to the Super Bowl together, again?

Michael Wilbon: Draft for defense and find a young WR that can stretch the field and help the offense become even more unstoppable.


McLean, Va.: Enough about the football and commercials. Here's a question for ya. What was the weirdest celebrity sighting you had Super Bowl week?

Michael Wilbon: Okay, here's my moment. Michael Clarke Duncan, the award-winning actor and star of "The Green Mile" asked one of our producers to make the introduction because he's a big fan of PTI, a South Side Chicago native and a huge Bears fan. (Okay, literally and figuratively). So, we chatted for awhile and took photos together. Turns out he and my mom grew up one block apart on the South Side and my mother was thrilled. Okay, I had two moments so I'm going to be a name-dropping bore. I was having dinner Thursday night in the same restaurant as Alex Rodriguez, Prime 112. After dinner, A-Rod invited me and my wife back to his table to chat and meet Gloria Estefan...So, Michael Clarke Duncan and Gloria Estefan was pretty good for me...AND Andy Roddick's friend (note, I said friend not girlfriend, though I have no idea and didn't ask) who is a stunning goddess and alumna of Indiana University...


RE: HOF: Art Monk snubbed again. Thoughts? Comments? Frustrations?

Michael Wilbon: I went through this earlier...I have helped present Monk as a candidate, believe 100 percent in his candidacy and believe he should have been in five years ago. Len Shapiro of The Post presents his candidacy every year and every year the room of 38 voters turns a thumbs down...I believe Michael Irvin belongs in the Hall of Fame absolutely...They both belong in the HOF. And I hope that since Michael is now in, it will be easier to get Art in...I hope. But I'm not in the room anymore. My ABC duties have taken me out of my Hall of Fame selection duties, which I enjoyed greatly for 10 years.


Arlington, Va.: Are the Wizards done without Jamison?

Michael Wilbon: They're hurting without Jamison...They need him in there for the whole thing to work...I worry that the Wizards will drop to fifth or six in the Eastern Conference before Jamison makes it back, which will make it difficult for them in the playoffs because of their seedings.


Washington DC: What will be the next steps for the Bears in order to maintain or improve enough to have a chance to make it back to the Super Bowl?

Michael Wilbon: Draft to get deeper on defense, which might help survive injuries. And take a serious look at QB, whether it's getting a new tutor for Grossman or another QB altogether.


Bethesda, Md.: With regards to the Hall of Fame voting, do you think that it's time that the process be more open? Should the votes be made public? And why not let the current members of the HOF vote as well. It seems that they are the closest people to the game and probably have the most valid opinion on who should or shouldn't be enshrined in the Hall of Fame. Also, what are your thoughts on Art Monk and Paul Tagliabue not making it?

Michael Wilbon: I do believe in making one's vote public. I did it, in fact. I would also love to see HOF members vote...And Paul Tagliabue will indeed get in at some point...but there are voters in the room who believe contributors should get in AFTER certain players who might have one shot...And as much as I respect Paul Tagliabue, and would have voted for him Saturday, I understand that sentiment. The players are the ones who in most cases should get in first. Yes on Tags, yes on Monk. Let there be no confusion about where I stand.


D.C.: Thoughts on Caron Butler?

It's so fun to see a player come into his own. And to see hard work in the offseason pay off.

Michael Wilbon: How can you not like Caron Butler's mental toughness and consistency...and to do this given the childhood he had to overcome. He's a terrific story and has grown into a terrific young guy who is worthy of his All-Star selection.


Fairfax, Va.: I hear McNabb is looking for some love. Would Chicago at least talk to him?

Michael Wilbon: Once again -- and I'm going to start lobbying for this today on PTI -- I'd pay McNabb's moving expenses, including his flight to Chicago.


Harrisburg, Pa.: Can I come back to the chat in a month with my baseball questions?

Michael Wilbon: Yes, a month sounds about right. We're going to a heavy dose of college hoops, NBA hoops, and we'll look ahead some to baseball, but let's not get carried away until March...


Arlington, Va.: Michael, as a Bills fan, I feel your pain today. Think of the hurt you're experiencing today and multiply it times four! Anyway, thanks for the great reporting and columns the last two weeks!

Michael Wilbon: Thank you...I got over it more quickly than I would have otherwise because of Tony Dungy and Peyton Manning, who I've written and said a million times that I respect and like tremendously...And yeah, I can't imagine how it would be to have endured this as a Bills fan. But I've always thought of the Bills of the 1990s as champions, if for no other reason the resilience they exhibited.


D.C.: Do you think the Bears win last night if a healthy Tommie Harris plays?

Michael Wilbon: They would have played better with Harris and safety Mike Brown, their two best players against the run...But I don't want to submarine the Colts' win by saying that. The Colts were the better team.


D.C.: Just noticed that you are no longer a Pro Football HOF voter. When did you give that up? That is unfortunate, the committee needs more Wilbons on there.

Michael Wilbon: Thank you...By signing with ABC to do five months of TV work covering the NBA, I had to give up some things related to football. So, I don't cover the Redskins games on Sundays in the fall, and I had to relinquish my Hall of Fame selection duties. Hey, life evolves. Careers morph...I had no idea these changes were coming but I'm enjoying things so far. I had to resign the HOF spot in the fall when it became clear I'd be working for ABC on weekends starting in mid-January. Keep in mind, I was NOT at the Super Bowl game. I was there in Miami all week, left Saturday night for Cleveland, did the halftime show there in Cleveland yesterday of the Pistons-Cavs game, then hopped a flight home at 4:45 to get home and watch the game...


South Beach: How were the parties? Is the Super Bowl crazier than NBA All-Star weekend?

Michael Wilbon: Super Bowl is certainly bigger than the All-Star game, and there are more parties. Shaq's party at the Versace Mansion, of the ones I'm aware of or attended, was THE BEST. I didn't go to Maxim this year or The Playboy Party, which I did in past years. Look, I'm an old guy now...Late 40s doesn't allow you to work until 8, party until 2, then start working the next morning at 8...But All-Star weekend, this year in Las Vegas, is later, louder, gaudier, more star-studded without question. I've done 21 Super Bowl weeks and 20 NBA All-Star weekends and the NBA is ONLY about the parties because the game doesn't matter like the Super Bowl matters...But combine Vegas and the NBA...I'm going for only one day--Thursday before the All-Star game--to write a piece about the weekend in THAT city...then, I'm out. One street, The Strip, is going to handle all those people and all that traffic? I won't be there to see it.


Silver Spring, Md.: What was the best party you went to at the Super Bowl and what made it so good?

Michael Wilbon: Okay, Shaq's party had some of the most recognizable people in America celebrity life, from models to NFL players to NBA players to Entertainment Tonight crews. I mean A-list NFL guys like Carson Palmer and Reggie Bush and Matt Leinart and Eli Manning. We're talking QBs and Heisman winners...Andy Roddick. Shaq, of course. Reggie Miller...and the models, I recognize but don't know all the names. Jessica Biel, Jamie Foxx...I'd have to have written them all down, and didn't.

Okay, gotta run. PTI prep time is already upon us. Good to chat with you guys and we'll chat next week, as he head with full speed toward hoops and spring. Be well, stay warm. MW


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