The Chat House

Michael Wilbon
Washington Post Sports Columnist
Monday, January 7, 2008; 1:15 PM

Welcome to another edition of The Chat House where Post columnist Michael Wilbon was online Monday, Jan. 7 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


Burke, Va.: Mike:

With all respect to the Skins and their loss, at what point does the attribution of EVERYTHING -- including the margin of victory/loss -- to Sean Taylor become overkill, bordering on poor taste? Did you HEAR Collinsworth suggesting that ST was "looking down from heaven"? Did you hear Gibbs say that "his guys" didn't think the 21 point margin over Dallas wasn't a coincidence? It's one thing to dedicate your own effort to a fallen teammate, but it does seem like it's getting a little maudlin. Your thoughts?

Michael Wilbon: Hello and Happy New Year everybody...I'm in San Francisco, for the purpose of getting started with my NBA life...which in this case means spending some time around the San Antonio Spurs and Golden State Warriors who play here in California tonight...But I was in Seattle for the Redskins playoff loss Sunday and we'll obviously start there...Some of the comments regarding Sean Taylor and his tragic death do seem over the top...but the comments from players talking about how close the team has become and how the players band together for the stretch run to make the playoffs are indeed a huge part of the Redskins late-season story...Tying Sean Taylor to every single play and every single outcome is, I think, a natural result...It's difficult to assess the death of his impact on each game, each player, the coaching staff...And I think the people you're talking about would rather be on the side of making too much of such a loss than too little.


Washington, D.C.: Mike:

Let's get to it early: The Skins started out playing terrible; the team faced tragedy with the senseless death of Sean Taylor and rebounded for the end of the season and lost to a better team, yesterday. On the other hand, Joe Gibbs has family issues with his grandson's Leukemia and his own health.

Do you believe Gibbs will be back as head coach next season? Next Year Starts Now for Gibbs (Post, Jan. 7)

Michael Wilbon: I have no idea whether Joe Gibbs will coach the Redskins next season...I really don't. Nothing he decides would surprise me at this point. I think we'll get a little more of an idea later today when Joe Gibbs meets with reporters...I guess if I was forced to throw out a gut feeling right this second, I'd say I think he's staying...but that's based on...well...nothing.


The Campbell Offense: Picking up on your column today, are there any QBs in the NFL today with talents similar to Campbell's and with a complementary offensive scheme? Looking to the past, would a Montana/SF-type offensive scheme serve him better?

Michael Wilbon: great question...Seattle with Matt Hasselbeck? The Bengals with Carson Palmer...Those are a couple...But the Saunders system does not seem to get everything out of Campbell...


DC: Neither the Jaguars or the Chargers looked all that impressive over the weekend. What are their chances next weekend?

Michael Wilbon: Strangely enough, I don't think the Chargers have much of a chance in Indy but I think the Jaguars do, even though they're going up to New England to play the undefeated and presumed champs...Thing about the Jaguars is, they're a young, fearless team playing with house money having just gotten over the nervousness of the playoffs. Jax is dangerous, very dangerous it would seem to me. On the other hand, had the Titans not fumbled and gone up 10-0, I wonder whether the Chargers, who seem so overly tied to emotional displays, would have panicked...The Jags are built for a cold-weather, slug-it-out game and their defense can harass a QB, as Ben Roethlisberger found out for the second time...I know the Jags nearly blew it, but the fact is they went to Pittsburgh twice and won...pretty impressive...I'm looking forward to the Patriots-Jags game...I think that's the place I want to be this weekend.


Houston: The timing of Roger Clemens' lawsuit seems fishy. It looks like he is giving himself a reason to go to Congress to say that he can't answer questions because of the pending litigation. He also looks as if he is forcing his ex-trainer to give the same answer, keeping him from testifying under oath in Congress. I guess my question, is what can Clemens do to regain any credibility?

Michael Wilbon: I don't know. Really, I've been asking the same question as you are and I can't come up with an answer. Okay, one thing: he can offer to take, then pass a lie detector test...The Broncos player did it when he knew he was innocent...Henry submitted hair samples, took the lie detector test...The guy came right out and said, "This is the deal, here's my proof." Bam. He didn't hide for a month behind lawyers and agents...I just don't know that I believe the trainer lied on Clemens, but everybody else he's implicated as either admitted to EXACTLY what was in the Mitchell Report (including Clemens' best friend, Andy Pettitte) or stayed silent...So Clemens is the only guy he lied on? Maybe...It's going to become a case of who you believe.


Washington, D.C.: Okay, how loud is it in Seattle? I can't call it an unfair advantage because they spent the money to build their stadium like an enormous echo chamber. But it does seem like a huge disadvantage for every opposing offensive line. There is no way to know that the ball is snapped unless they turn and look at it.

Michael Wilbon: That's what home field advantage is supposed to be...a DISADVANTAGE to the other team in every way imaginable. Seattle's the loudest place in the NFL, with Green Bay, Pittsburgh, Philly, Denver, Minnesota and Indy runners-up...I tend to discount domes, which is what makes Seattle even more impressive. It's a wonderful place to watch a game, and a terrible place to play it if you're not the Seahawks. All praise to them for building a 68,000-seat stadium without artificial junk clowning up the place like 70 percent of stadiums and arenas these days...They scream, stomp, pound the concrete...Good for Seattle...


Washington, DC: Regarding beating Dallas by 21, according to the Redskin's Web site, Coach Gibbs said "...but I do feel like, for me personally, our guys, we didn't think it was an accident we won by 21, I'll put it that way. In the prayer we all felt that way."

Has anyone asked him what he makes of losing by 21 to Seattle? If he thinks the supernatural influences sports scores, shouldn't he address this?

Michael Wilbon: Wow, you're fairly cynical...I tend to allow people their statements of faith and let it go at that. I don't buy for half a second that God is sitting on one team's bench and has something against the guys on the other side...But competitors are often tied to their faith and beliefs and I let it go at that...Sounds like that's what you're getting at...


Dallas: Really enjoy your chats and your perspective on sports. Should Belichick have been voted Coach of the Year? My perspective is that a coach that is found cheating just can't be the best coach of the year regardless of the on field performance. What does that say to society at large? Cheating is okay as long as you win too?

The opposite argument is that 16-0 means that you win Coach of the Year no matter what else happened. I just can't buy into that argument though, when it means somehow saying that the cheating was okay. This makes me feel even more disenfranchised from the NFL (as a non-beer drinking female who just likes to watch a good, clean game).

Michael Wilbon: I would have voted for Belichick as Coach of the Year, yes. But this argument is compelling...I spent all weekend hearing the back-and-forth over it...Your point is completely logical and fair, even just...I have NO problem admitting it gives me pause about my position.


Dulles Airport: Who wins tonight's big game?

Michael Wilbon: I think the Warriors will beat the Spurs here at home...The crowd in the arena here, speaking of noisy places, is the best in basketball right now...Oh,'re talking about that bowl game? I won't watch a snap. The bowl season has been a joke except for the alums of the schools involved. It's been nothing, no juice, only a couple of compelling games...What a waste. To play this game once the NFL playoffs begin is dumb. Anybody think this bowl season, with a glut of 32 games, still has sanctity? You'd rather have this lame postseason than a playoff? Please.


Los Angeles: What are the chances that Eli Manning will play like he has (with no turnovers) for a third week in a row? He's a ticking time bomb, waiting to explode with a plethora of interceptions.

Michael Wilbon: Yeah, I tend to believe what you believe, though we need to give Eli big ups for his play the last two weeks. I'm sorry, he's a lot further into the playoffs than 24 other teams. I tend to laugh at this notion that Eli is now "vindicated" as if his professional ambition is to win one playoff game in his career...If Eli is as ambitious as I think he he, as his father and brother were and are, he sees this victory over Tampa as something that he and the Giants SHOULD have produced. But his streaks of good play never really last for very long, do they?


Falls Church, Va.: By when does Joe Gibbs need to make a decision to allow the team adequate time to respond and prepare for next year? Obviously, I'm sure the team would like to know his decision now, but can he wait until after the Super Bowl? After the draft?

Michael Wilbon: Goodness, no. If Joe Gibbs is going to walk away, he should do it now...and by "now" I mean in the next couple of weeks after he gets a chance to reflect and think about what he wants to do...Nothing happens for eliminated teams between now and the Super Bowl...He's got three weeks to look at what he wants to do. He might know already...And certainly, he might (perhaps even probably will) return.


Detroit: What's sillier, SEC and Big 10 fans arguing about superiority after each bowl game or Celtic and Piston fans doing the same after each head-to-head meeting?

Michael Wilbon: I care more about professional basketball than college football so I'm okay with Detroit and the Celtics, given how damn good they've been this season, having a little back and forth. I don't care about some 5th place teams in any conference talking about superiority. Boston and Detroit are the two best teams in the league right now, given that the Spurs and Suns are struggling a bit and New Orleans is talented but not ready for a championship push. The Celtics and Pistons have accomplished big-time, high-profile stars who are worth watching and (at least for me) listening to. Neither is going to finish in 5th place and start lobbying pollsters.


Clemens: I don't understand what the trainer could possibly have to gain by telling lies about Clemens. I wish he'd just come out and admit it already.

Michael Wilbon: You want Clemens to admit he did it even if he didn't? Do you have proof he did?


Laurel, Md.: The Celts go into Detroit and beat the Pistons. Impressed?

Michael Wilbon: Well, yes, actually. Detroit won in Boston earlier this year and I was wondering if the Celtics had a response. While the NBA, NHL and MLB seasons are so very long, there are still, at least in my mind, certain checkpoints and you want to see how teams perform at each of them. This was a checkpoint for the Celtics...not that they couldn't have overcome a loss...But these are the games that make long professional seasons the Yankees playing the Red Sox in a three-game serious...No, the Celtics and Pistons don't have a 100-year rivalry. But they've got a 20-year rivalry and I get the sense each still gets under the other's skin.


D.C.: Mike-

What do you make of Tony Romo and Jessica Simpson being spotted in Cancun?

Michael Wilbon: Not much...I think it's fun and like to poke fun at it...But that's about it. I thought blaming Jessica Simpson for Romo's poor performance against Philly a few weeks ago was plain dumb...When you're 12 years old and you can't yet drive a sports car and don't yet have a trillion dollar contract the primary reason boys play is to impress the girl. So this is new? I love the story-line though.


Clemens 60 Minutes Interview: Hi Mike

What did you think about the Clemens interview? Here are my conclusions: (1) Mike Wallace needs to finally retire because this once brilliant investigative journalist is a sad shadow of his former self; (2) Clemens is even more arrogant and stupid than I had previously thought, and that's saying something; and (3) Clemens is not being fully truthful or forthcoming and should thank his lucky stars that he was being interviewed by a fawning fan and friend rather than someone who really wanted to learn the truth.

Besides not following up on the obvious areas about how Clemens could be allegedly unaware of both Pettitte's use and his personal trainer's dealing in steroids and HGH, I was flabbergasted that Wallace did not follow up on Clemens' statement that he was ingesting Vioxx like they were "Skittles," and that he blamed the FDA for possibly jeopardizing his health.

I was prescribed and took Vioxx, before it was taken off the market, and I've eaten more than my fair share of Skittles and this statement tells me that Clemens was willing to knowingly risk his health to improve his performance and had access to illegal quantities of prescription medication. Vioxx was generally prescribed to be taken once or twice a day. I don't believe that anyone just eats one or two Skittles per day and there isn't any reputable doctor would have prescribed Vioxx to be taken like Skittles. So, where did Clemens get the quantity of this prescription medication that could eat like Skittles? Maybe from the same source he got his steroids. What a dope.

Michael Wilbon: I didn't watch the Clemens interview on "60 Minutes." I decided to be out and about in San Francisco on a Sunday night rather than watch Clemens and Wallace...but your criticism has been echoed in so many reviews I've read this I'll just publish your, um, blog and note that yours seems to be the majority opinion.


New York, N.Y.: Okay, so the BCS is a waste, and the glut of bowl games makes the NCAA look like NHL playoffs. Heck there were TWO HS All-Star games on this weekend.

So, what about going back to old old school. AP picks the No. 1 team, the Rose Bowl is ONLY between the Pac 10 and Big 10, etc.?

Michael Wilbon: No. Who ever goes back in life? Playoff, playoff, playoff...Anything else looks like a fraud.


Saunders Offense: Mike,

Can you elaborate on why you don't think Al Saunders offense fits JC's skill set? I don't get it.

Michael Wilbon: Just listening to scouts from other teams and watching the games, Collins is adept at throwing to spots to exploit part because his arm isn't really strong enough to get it down the field and throw the tough routes...Campbell's arms strength would permit him to drop straight back and more aggressively go after defenses...


Arlington, Va.: I hear there is a college football game that true? I thought we were done with this stupid bowl season.

Michael Wilbon: We should have been done with Bowl season on the day or two after New Year's Day. This is absurd. And the two teams do nothing for me...nor for most other people.


Fairfax, Va.: Mr. Wilbon,

Thanks for providing great entertainment and dropping knowledge over all these years. I gotta say, this Sean Taylor thing has me in a weird place. While it's a tragic thing that a young person was killed, doesn't it say something about the fact that a 'Skins player had to be KILLED in order for the team to have any sort of life pumped into them? I have no doubt they wouldn't have made the playoffs if Sean had survived. And, no disrespect to the Taylor family, there are other young people risking their lives overseas that deserve more commendation. Thanks for your time.

Michael Wilbon: We're treading on sensitive ground (again) here...I understand your last sentence, but you have to listen to the players when they talk about bonding, necessarily, after Sean Taylor's death...If you have the chance look at the Clinton Portis quotes in my column in today's newspaper or on Portis is very measured and very smart in his points about how the team felt about itself and why in the wake of their teammate's death...That simply cannot be ignored...I don't know whether they'd have made the playoffs or not if he lived. I certainly would rather they hadn't made the playoffs, or gone 4-12, and had Sean Taylor live...if somehow that option existed...It's a complex thing, trying to put into the context of competition the violent and tragic death of a young man. But I think you're making the point that not everything good that happened to the Redskins the last four weeks should be attributed to a young man's death...I get that part, I really do.


Nashville, TN: My husband and I watched Roger Clemens' interview last night with fascination. My gut says that he used steroids, but who knows? My question: if he did use steroids BEFORE the players/owners agreed to ban them, why not just admit it? Is it the legacy issue? In your opinion, how shielded is Clemens from everyday life and public opinion?

Michael Wilbon: Good question. He's not shielded...he probably just feels above it, like most men of power, wealth and fame.


New York City: If/when the Pats lose will there be quiet smiles on the sports press outside New England? Seriously.

Michael Wilbon: Hmmmm, great question. Probably. Not mind...Bill Belichick has been great to me, personally...So have several members of the Patriots team (Bob Kraft, the owner, Roosevelt Colvin, Rodney Harrison)...I've got nothing against the Patriots, though people think I do because I dared suggest that I'd try to rip Brady's head off. (This used to be known as playing football)...Anyway, I suspect you're right. People in any profession tend to be annoyed by people who hinder them from doing their jobs, and we in the news media are no exception...I remember the '85 Bears in their dominance and sportswriters were elated because they were the best locker room in modern pro football history...It was sheer fun to cover. Ditka couldn't have been more fun to cover...So people could get their stories, do their jobs, and live to work another day. Not so with the Patriots because Belichick gives you nothing...ever...


Love San Fran: Out and about in SF last night. As one of the top restaurant cities, you have to tell us where you ate and what you had. Love that TOWN!!

Michael Wilbon: I don't want to misspell it, but Farallon...I hope that's right...But I've eaten there before. It's fabulous. I love San Francisco and the entire northern California region. I wish I'd lived here when I was younger, but that ship has sailed. Anyway, it's a great eating, shopping, touring city. Hell, it's great for everything...


Washington DC: How about some love for my Blazers.

Do you still think this run is a fluke and they won't make the playoffs?

Michael Wilbon: I didn't say it was a fluke...I think it's going to be difficult for them to make the playoffs, but I hope they do. They're a great story and I love the makeup of the kids on that team. And they're very, very good right now...But the west is made up of tough veteran teams. I just can't stop thinking about how good the Blazers are going to be as Brandon Roy moves into his physical prime, as LaMarcus Aldridge and Jarrett Jack and Channing Frye and all those players mature...and as Big Greg Oden joins the team next year...San Antonio's natural decline may fold in seamlessly into Portland's arrival...


Alexandria, Va.: Mike:

Gilbert Arenas is now saying that he won't rush back like he did over the summer. He has also thrown out the possibility that he won't be back until October.

If that is the case, how far can the Wizards go without him? Currently they are the No. 4 seed in the East. Also, if he doesn't play again this year does he still opt out this summer?

Michael Wilbon: I haven't talked to Gil lately, but I cannot believe he won't try and be back after the All Star break, or thereabouts. I think the Wizards can play with anybody in the East except Boston and Detroit. So, it probably means the Wizards could win one playoff serious, but I don't know about going further than that.


Arlington, Va.: Hi Mike, welcome back. Until recently, I thought the best day of watching football was New Year's Day. But now that the BCS has spread out the best bowls, that is gone. I think the NFL's wild card and divisional weekend are easily the best days now. This past weekend had great matchups and stories, and I am looking more forward to next weekend's games. What do you think?

Michael Wilbon: I completely agree with you. Now, there was only one great game this past weekend: Jacksonville at Pittsburgh. The Redskins game had one good half, and the other two games were pretty ordinary stuff. But this coming weekend is the big deal. You've got the Champs, the recent and some would say future champs, plus the up and coming jags, the drama of the Cowboys, the legend of Brett Favre...I think this weekend is the second best weekend in sports...behind only the first weekend of March Madness...But it's close...very close.


Silver Spring, Md.: What big game? I'm taking my 10-year-old to Hannah Montana tonight...pray for me Mike.

Michael Wilbon: That's time better spent than watching LSU-Ohio...a couple of two-loss teams playing a month later than they should be...Have fun tonight with your 10-year-old.


Anonymous: Seems there isn't gonna be a Kobe trade nor any other blockbuster trade in the NBA this year. Do you see something I don't?

Michael Wilbon: There will be trades...probably Ron Artest...Mike Bibby...Sacramento could deal both. Let's see how the Chicago Bulls progress without Scott Skiles (3-2 in the last five with both losses coming in OT and 2OT to Orlando and Portland) before deciding the Bulls are out of the trade market...Miami is DESPERATELY in need of a trade.


Washington D.C.: Did you see LeBron torch the Raptors for 24 4th QTR points last night after Chris Bosh's girlfriend was heckling him on the sideline? Great TV...

Michael Wilbon: I've heard about it...missed it because I don't have NBA Season Pass in my hotel room...sounds like it was a lot of fun...I actually think Toronto is one of those teams that can be a pest in the playoffs. They're like the eastern version of Portland, a young team getting better every month.


Columbia, Md.: If you had to rank the following events in the order you would like to cover them, how would they stack up? -- Super Bowl, NBA Finals, Stanley Cup, World Series, World Cup Soccer.

Michael Wilbon: This is a question we should almost save for another's that good. Okay we'll revisit it again but it depends on what we're measuring. My personal excitement? NBA Finals, Super Bowl, World Series, Stanley Cup Finals...I haven't been to the World Cup Finals yet, but I plan to in 2010 in South Africa...That might shoot to the top of the list. For a sportswriter, the Stanley Cup is great because the access is so great...same for the NBA Finals. Obviously, the Super Bowl is the biggest and grandest and the NFL does everything it can to help media folks have access enough during the week to any and everybody, but it's just SOOOOOO BIG...I don't know, I'm honored to have covered all of them multiple times, except for World Cup...I'm missing three big things from my sportswriting resume: The Masters, Daytona 500, World Cup Finals...

Okay, gotta run and prepare to do battle with Mr. Tony on PTI...thanks for chatting everybody...Next week, after going to New England for Jags-Pats, I'm back in a very unfamiliar place: home. Enjoy the week. Mike


Chicago: Hope this isn't too late -- any thoughts on the NHL Winter Classic? Personally, it was great to see pro hockey do something right for once.

Michael Wilbon: That Winter Classic in Buffalo was better than anything the Bowl season gave us...thanks


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