The Chat House

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

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

The transcript follows.

Discussion Archive


Los Angeles: Any truth to the rumor that the Cubs have taken out a restraining order, preventing Bartman from within a 10-mile radius around Wrigley Field in October?

In all seriousness, do you think they'll invite him to the victory parade if they win? He could ride down Michigan Ave. on a goat.

Michael Wilbon: I just hope there are no present-day Bartman issues or situations...Hi everybody. I'm here in Cincinnati where the residue of Cubs playoff fever is everywhere...We'll discuss a little baseball playoffs, NFL and whatever else pops up before I run to get ready for Bengals-Patriots here tonight.


Leesburg, Va. (orig Philadelphia, PA): So the Phillies put together some really good ballplaying with a rare streak of good luck from the baseball gods, make the playoffs, almost banish the ghost of '64... and the Eagles fall apart.

What cosmic rule is it that says Philly can only have one winning team at a time?

Will McNabb end up taking the blame for yesterday's disaster, or will a front line that allowed 12 sacks get the blame it justly deserves?

Michael Wilbon: Good question. I'm not sure I want to blame the offensive linemen. Andy Reid, a superb coach, refused to give his tackle any help against Omenyura (I probably misspelled that) who had, what, six sacks. That was unforgivable. Andy Reid has had so much going on in his personal life, what with his seriously troubled sons, that I wonder how that impacts him. And I don't want to hear that it doesn't because it has to, not in the games but in the six days leading up. Reid's decision making was awful. Awful. The Eagles did nothing to help those linemen against that rush...No screen passes, no draw plays, no back chipping or tight end helping out. The Eagles were a mess last night against the Giants, who because of that second half against the Redskins, are reenergized and apparently ready to go.


Washington, D.C.: Mike, great article in the WP about Agent Zero's rehab. There's no question about Gilbert's work ethic. That said, if/when he opts out of his contract, do you consider him a max contract player?

Michael Wilbon: Good question. That would depend on who else is a free agent at the same time and what team zeroed in (sorry) on him. He could be a max player for the Wizards, but not some other teams. He needs to really lock and load on getting his team to the conference finals, which is difficult, of course, but not impossible...



Michael Wilbon: The Bears have no quarterback. I expect Griese to be better this coming week in Lambeau, but the Bears do not have a real franchise quarterback, which is so's such bad planning by the GM, Jerry Angelo, who passed on Jeff Garcia in the offseason and dealt away Thomas Jones, the most important player on the offense.


Washington, D.C.: With so many interviews filled with fill-in-the-blank, boring, cliched answers, I thought Hope Solo's honesty was just what women's sports needed. So why were so many sports journalists against her?

Michael Wilbon: I wasn't against her for her answer; I was against her stupid, lame, blame-the-media apology. She said it. She should have stuck her chin right back out there and said, "I said it." Instead she went with the "I-was-taken-out-of-context" garbage. How insulting. We saw the whole thing in its entirety. What a liar. Please. She trashed her coach and her teammate. Okay, fine...then live with it. Don't come back with, "I was misunderstood." Fraud.


Rashad from D.C.: The other day I was reading old articles that Ralph Wiley wrote for ESPN, and I realized how much I miss him, especially with issues involving Vick, Donaghy, McNabb and the undying saga of O.J. Do you have moments like this with Wiley or anyone else in your field who has passed away?

Michael Wilbon: Ralph Wiley was one of my closest friends in this business. He was friend/mentor/advisor. I never made any big life decision without calling Ralph first. Miss him? Are you kidding? All the time...his voice, his wisdom, his criticism, praise, all of it...He was an American Original.


Gainesville, Va.: Taylor vs. Pavlik....WOW!! A reminder of how great the sport of boxing can be. Thoughts?

Michael Wilbon: Sorry...I heard it was great but didn't see it. It was the wrong weekend, what with everything (football, golf, baseball races) that was going on...Maybe I'll find a re-broadcast.


Greater Green Bay: Biggest collapse from last season: your Bears, the Chargers or the Saints? (Or do the Mets have 'em all beat?)

Michael Wilbon: Oh, the Mets own this for now. The Bears and Chargers, bad as they are now, have three-quarters of a season left. The Bears were 1-3 two years ago and went 11-5. They haven't collapsed; they're just bad. The Mets led for what, 163 days? That's one of the biggest collapses in sports. And they didn't just lead; they had virtually lapped the field. It's probably going to cost Willie Randolph his gig. I can't say I feel all that bad, having to listen to Mets fans about passing the Cubs in '69 after we had a 9 1/2 game lead going into Sept. Still, I wouldn't wish this kind of thing on anybody.


San Diego: Much has been written about how Norv Turner is a great coordinator but terrible head coach. The evidence clearly supports this. My question is, how exactly does this happen? What about Norv is bad as a head coach (lack of intensity?) and how does this translate to poor performances on game day (lack of effort? poor practices?)?

Michael Wilbon: Norv isn't a great speaker, motivational or otherwise (his players' criticism, not mine). He doesn't handle confrontation well...isn't good with issue management. He doesn't, according to them, convey a great deal of authority. They don't find him inspirational. Nobody has ever feared him, which isn't necessary with every coach, but is a tool used very well by many. He's great with instruction, great with getting individual players to learn the game and improve their specifics. But head coach is a much bigger-picture job than that, and it's clear by now Norv simply doesn't have that...Great head coaches have leadership pouring out of them, whether quietly (Joe Gibbs, Tony Dungy) or with the volume turned up (Bill Cower, Bill Parcells, etc.)


Washington, D.C.: Did you have any idea that Wade Phillips could have such big impacts on two different teams (Chargers and Cowboys) at the same time?

Michael Wilbon: Yeah, he's a good coach. He was over .500, remember, in stops as head coach at Buffalo and Denver. He knows what he's doing and seems to have great assistants. He seems pretty comfortable with who he is and doesn't need to be stroked and constantly called a genius.


Today's One-Game Playoff: Mike,

Who you have today? Colorado? I think they have the big 'mo' going. What a finale to the NL season. Poor Mets.

Michael Wilbon: My money is on Jake Peavy, which means the Padres. I know, taking a pitcher over the hitters in Coors isn't always the way to go. But since they started with the balls in a humidor, things have evened up some. I think the Padres win, even though the Rockies are so incredibly hot...What have they won, 14 of 15? That's a helluva finish.


New Orleans: In the crazy weekend of college football, did you see the South Florida game Friday night? That story from trailers to this in 10 years is unbelievable. And now ranked 6th. Can they sustain it for the rest of the year?

Michael Wilbon: In many ways it's like the rise of the University of Miami in the early 1980s and Florida State in the 1970s. The common threat, obviously, is Florida, where the coaches have access to so much talent. South Florida, by the end of this season, might be the best team in Florida, and isn't that saying something?


Roanoke, Va.: Do the Bengals have any chance whatsoever tonight? With no running game, won't Belichick be able to engineer a defense to shut a one-dimensional Bengal team down tonight?

Michael Wilbon: I think the Bengals have a shot in these kinds of HUGE GAMES because they play to the moment. They're not the brightest bunch and if they win tonight they're likely to go out and drop three of four because their concentration wavers and they're not great with detail and consistency. But they like a big fight. They like the Monday Night lights and the stage. No way I pick against the Patriots, but I can see an upset, yes. It wouldn't shock me. I don't think, by the way, the Pats are going 19-0...Their schedule is too hard, starting tonight.


Alexandria, Va.: Mike, the NY print media is known as being one of the toughest on its hometown teams. Some other cities' media are known as being soft. My question is, how does that sort of thing develop? Do the newspaper sports editors set the tone? It it the culture of the city?

Michael Wilbon: Yes, it's the culture of the place, and by extension, what the newspapers editors will have. It's not a matter of tough or soft, entirely. The Washington Post, I think people would say, is tough on all kinds of institutions. But we're not going to have scandalous headlines and call people names in print like The Daily News and The Post do in NYC. We don't take it personally when the Redskins or Wizards lose. There's criticism and there's ridicule. The tabloids are often comical and irresponsible (in my view of the world) with their criticism, while, say The New York Times in the same market very rarely goes over the top in reporting the same stories.


Grand Rapids, Mich.: Did you see any of the Tiger-Weir match? First Class!! Do you think other professional athletes take note of how well that level of class plays with the public?

Michael Wilbon: I did watch some of it, in a channel-clicking frenzy yesterday. Like any profession, many people in professional athletics behave with class; some don't. I didn't notice Weir and Tiger doing anything they don't always do on the course. The play was the high-end thing I noticed.


Alexandria, Va.: Is it a bad thing for baseball to show half the postseason on TBS, a pay television network?

Michael Wilbon: As opposed to what, ESPN, a pay television network?


Manassas, Va.: "Michael Wilbon: The common threat, obviously, is Florida"

I know this was a typo but I found it not only funny but true. Florida is where to find the big time players. Even more than Texas and California

Michael Wilbon: Yes, typo indeed, but threat and thread are both accurate. Sorry...and thanks.


Anonymous: What do you expect from Chad Johnson tonight? National TV stage, the guy has to have something in his bag to entertain. (By the way, I like the way this guy gets his attention, unlike others before him.)

Michael Wilbon: Chad is fun...He doesn't take himself too seriously (usually) but he'd better keep his head on a swivel tonight. And he'd better worry about actually getting into the end zone, which isn't a given.


Lewis Hamilton: After winning an an amazing race on Sunday in torrential downpours in Japan, Lewis Hamilton is about to become the first black driver to win the F1 World Championship.

I know you aren't a racing guy, but please tell ESPN that they can pause for a couple of minutes from their interminable coverage of the boredom that is NASCAR to mention Hamilton's incredible achievements.

Michael Wilbon: You don't need ESPN to follow Hamilton. There are a million places you can read about him and even see him. ESPN's contract is with NASCAR, not F1...but why stop with ESPN when there are so many other sources for information about him.


Durango, Colo.: Mr Wilbon, Craig Biggio's fans celebrated 20 years if fidelity yesterday. Can you briefly discuss, please, the benefit to teams in any pro sport that are able to maintain a career long relationship with their key players. Which teams are best able to maintain these relationships?

Michael Wilbon: You can't break this down by teams. Those same Astros, who enjoyed the presence and contribution of Mr. Biggio for two decades, have traded and discarded players like everybody else, whether we're talking about the team of Cal Ripken Jr. (Orioles) or the team of Tony Gwynn (Padres) or Brett Favre (Packers). Sometimes, and increasingly rarely, there are players of such value that teams and those players will do anything to keep the relationship together. Are the Braves to fault because Hank Aaron wanted to finish his career in Milwaukee, where the Braves used to play? No. Does that make it a lesser relationship he enjoyed with the Braves organization? No, of course not. It's nice when it happens.


Alexandria, Va.: In all the discussion of OSU coach Gundy's rant against the columnist who wrote a piece about one of his players, I have found almost nothing about the two points he repeatedly made that interested me most -- he kept on referring to the student in question as a "kid" as if he were 12 and not 21. I think if the young man is old enough to vote, drink alcohol, sign contracts, serve in the armed forces and be tried as an adult, then referring to him as a "kid" in this way is much more demeaning than anything in the original article. Secondly, he kept on bringing up the fact that the columnist is not a parent, not a mother, as if this somehow invalidated her right to an opinion.

Aside from calling it lies and garbage, he presented no factual refutation of the column. Your thoughts?

Michael Wilbon: I have two points. The first is and has always been that the columnist missed the point. It's not whether she was accurate; it's whether she should be critical about the "manhood" of a college student. She should not be, period. It's a worthless point to make. You want to make a point; pick on somebody worthy, like the head coach, who is a professional. My second point is that Gundy can defend his player without acting like a caveman, which he might be. He undermined his own position acting like an idiot, though I agree with the baseline of his position.

My bottom line is college kids aren't professionals and should be paid like pros or criticized in the media like pros. An assessment of his performance is fine, but questioning his manhood. For what? What's the point of the piece? It's silly.


Washington, D.C.: Hey Mike,

What are you thoughts on the D.C. mayor's (Adrian Fenty) performance at the Nation's Triathlon? Where does the man find time to train for triathlons and finish in the top ten? Pretty impressive, if you ask me.

Michael Wilbon: It's nice to see a city's chief executive who not only believes in exercise but also walks the walk. Congrats to Mayor Fenty.


Washington, D.C.: Do you think Brett Favre is a better QB then Dan Marino? And who are your top all-time NFL Qbs?

Michael Wilbon: Yes, Favre is higher on my personal list than Marino. My list is Elway, Montana, Graham, Unitas...That's my top four. Others after that would obviously include Bradshaw, Staubach, Young, Marino...Brady and Manning, by the way, are knocking on the door. Brady could wind up, when he's done, right there with Elway and Montana, which was unthinkable even seven years ago.


Brooklyn, N.Y.: Hey Wilbon -- I am frustrated by all the bandwagoneering that goes on in the national NFL press. One week the one team are dead, the next week they're going to the Super Bowl, and vice versa. Do you think this happens now because of the 24-hour news, daily power rankings culture? I think it takes away from real analysis of what's going on.

Michael Wilbon: Thank you for making the point. In most cases, there is no real analysis going on...only a slavish devotion to anything NFL related. It serves nothing...but the sale of NFL merchandise and foaming at the mouth over fantasy football.


Richmond, Va.: With the Redskins bad loss and the dreck that was the Eagles-Giants game last night, do the Cowboys have anything to worry about in the NFC East?

Michael Wilbon: No...not a thing, though at least the Giants are showing a pulse now. Oh, every team has one thing to worry about: injuries. No more than five or six teams can survive an injury to the starting QB and Dallas isn't one of them.


Washington, D.C.: Is Gary Bettman the worst league commissioner in the history of pro sports? What kind of genius opens the season in a foreign country (where they don't even play the sport), on a college football Saturday, with no national television coverage? I'm not sure you could pick a worse combination of factors if you tried.

On a related note, anything to say about the passing of Bill Wirtz? From all accounts he was quite a good person, but he totally ran the Blackhawks franchise into the dirt.

Michael Wilbon: You said it all, and well...Thank you.


New Orleans: With the way Brett Favre is playing, is he on track for another MVP season?

Michael Wilbon: Ahead of Tom Brady? Ahead of Romo? Uhhhhh, no.


Chicago: What is the deal with the Bears? And what is the deal with the Chargers? Along with the Saints, these have to be the top three disappointments of the 2007 season so far, do you agree?

Who has the best chance of turning it around and what must they do to get back to the playoffs?

Michael Wilbon: Yes, they're the biggest disappointments, along with the Eagles. The Saints have the best chance, though Deuce getting hurt is a killer because was a dominant player when healthy. The Bears don't have a quarterback. The Chargers made dumb and arrogant decisions about the most important aspect of the game: coaching. I don't think any of the three will make the playoffs, though let me not be too knee-jerk...Actually, if Griese can be a 6 on the 1 to 10 scale the next 10 weeks, the Bears could be a wild-card team in the weak NFC.


WDC: How 'bout a small tip of the cap to the Nats? Predicted to be the worst team in baseball, they stayed out of the cellar in the NL East and finished four games better than the O's. Made a difference in September, too.

"The Oriole Way" indeed.

Michael Wilbon: The Nationals, it seems to me, have a much brighter immediate future than the Orioles, who have been stuck for what, 10 years? The Nationals have some talented young players and an owner who doesn't kill everything. That matters.


Chevy Chase, Md.: Do you and Tony have as much fun as it seems on PTI?

Michael Wilbon: This is a perfect transition to the second part of my day...Yes, we absolutely have a great time, all of us...not just Tony and me but the producers and crew...We're damn lucky and we know it...Okay everybody...have a great week and we'll chat next week, this time from Buffalo where the Cowboys will be looking to go 5-0...Have a great week...


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