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The Chat House with Michael Wilbon: Redskins-Browns, Jerry Jones and a World Series pick

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Michael Wilbon
Washington Post Sports Columnist
Monday, October 20, 2008; 1:15 PM

Welcome to another edition of The Chat House, where Post columnist Michael Wilbon was online Monday, Oct. 20 at 1:15 p.m. ET to take your questions and comments about the Redskins-Browns, Jerry Jones and the struggling Dallas Cowboys, and to make his World Series pick.

A transcript follows.

Discussion Archive* Column Archive* Talking Points Videos

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washingtonpost.com: Michael's morning flight was delayed, and he'll begin chatting around 1:30 p.m. ET.

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Washington, D.C.: I was glad to see the Redskins win but unimpressed with how close it was, considering how bad the Browns played. My question is, do players tend to reflect on this? Do they think "Well jeez, we were lucky there, but we've got some work to do," or are they happy with a win being a win?

Michael Wilbon: Hi everybody...from Foxboro, a rather quiet place today in light of the Red Sox Game 7 loss down in St. Pete...Everything is very quiet here...for a different reason than it used to be. Folks here have gotten accustomed to winning...winning Big. Sawx, Patriots, Celtics...all of them. So, this isn't going down easy locally, losing and not making it to the World Series. But what a time to be a sports fan in New England. A 10-year-old fan of any or all three teams has no idea of the Sox suffering and the Patriots failures over the many, many years. Just joy here for the decade of the oughts...Anyway, the Redskins haven't known that kind of joy in awhile, but could...Yes, really good teams with introspective players and coaches...maybe just honest players and coaches...know when they've played well and when they haven't. And just about all the really good coaches I've known have been grateful to win, but worried like hell on the drive home or back to the office Sunday nights. That's in every sport. Relief for the "W" but honest assessment once the video clicks on...The Redskins know they played decently in some areas and not so in others...The defense has been great lately...really terrific. They just snuffed Cleveland on that one drive. The offense is close, but not there. Not many points the last two weeks, even though the QB has been pretty good. And the offense was just fine when it needed to be, toward the end of the game. It's Cleveland's Derek Anderson who was unbelievably awful...just awful. I've not been in favor of benching him for Golden Boy To Be Brady Quinn...But I would be if I was writing a column in Cleveland today, after that performance.

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Rockville, Md.: Youngest team in MLB vs. one of the oldest teams. Rays vs. Phillies. Who ya got?

Michael Wilbon: Rays...I stopped going against them in August when they won those two series vs. the Red Sox...And they just did what to me is the most difficult thing in modern sports: overcome massive disappointment. It's hard. Some franchises can't ever do it...To lose that game the other night, Game 5, and come back with that kind of clutch performance against a team of champions is very, very impressive. Philly has a had a great season, and they've got three MVP-caliber players. BUT, I'm going with the Rays.

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Arlington, Va.: More valuable, London Fletcher or Clinton Portis? I say Fletcher.

Michael Wilbon: Good question. It's splitting hairs. Where would that offense be without Portis? Even with Campbell and Moss, Portis is the engine. He's the heart of it. And Fletcher has been the most important player on the defense...Get back to me in a few weeks with that one again. It's a dead heat right now.

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Olney, Md.: The last 7 games have shown that the Redskins can now rely on Jason Campbell. This has been missing in Washington since the years of Mark Rypien. Do you see Jason Campbell becoming an elite quarterback in this league and how does he compare at this moment to Theisman, Doug Williams and Mark Rypien?

Michael Wilbon: I don't know. It's still too early for me to make that declaration. Seven games ain't enough...not for me. Didn't Rex Grossman have seven straight great games (or 7 in 8 games) two years ago? He led his team to the Super Bowl and now what? He's benched. Forgotten...Nobody in the NFL would make him a starting QB...So, looks like Campbell will be the answer for a long time. Has the tools to be an elite quarterback. But there's health, maturation, coaching, good teammates...Let's hope he has all those in the coming years...

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Bad teammates turned good: With good reason, you've cited T.O. as a bad teammate. Is there anyone who would win your "Most Improved Teammate" award (in any sport)? Someone who went from locker room poison to leader? Kobe Bryant comes to mind...

Michael Wilbon: Kobe last year made a HUGE leap. Stephen Jackson. I can't think of any off the top of my head in pro football. NOT Barry Bonds, though I think he did become better, maybe even a lot better, than he was.

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Leesburg, Va.: Two-parter about MVPs. Who is your dark horse for the NBA MVP and who is the NFL MVP right now?

Michael Wilbon: MVP right now...Hmmm...Kerry Collins? I can't believe I'm saying that. Trent Edwards completed 83 percent of his passes yesterday...broke Jim kelly's club single-game record...His team's 5-1. I'm sorry...I can't go with me preseason choice, Drew Brees, because his team stinks. The Saints really disappoint me. They're failing their QB miserably...NBA dark horse? Well, you can't call Kobe, C. Paul, D. Howard dark horses...How about Yao Ming? How about Elton Brand...Problem is, I think Andre Iguodola might be right there with Brand in Phily...

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Arlington, Va.: I've read that Dan Snyder trademarked the name "Washington Warriors" for an arena team he planned to start. Why doesn't he just change the Redskins' name to "Warriors," keeping the logo, colors, song and everything else intact. Wouldn't that be a great name? I think it could help transform the image of a team that has underperformed for almost two decades. Maybe he can announce it after this year's Super Bowl visit...

Michael Wilbon: That's SO not going to happen I won't even get into it. It won't EVER happen. Less than no chance. People are fainting that I even TOOK this question.

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New Orleans: Do you agree with Sally Jenkins statement about Zorn: "It looks like the man who can get it done is finally in the house."

washingtonpost.com: First-Class at Coach (Post, Oct. 16)

Michael Wilbon: I don't like these early declarations...I sometimes MAKE them, but I don't believe in them...It's too early. Sally might very well be right. Sometimes you just get a feeling about a coach. I remember having it the first game Maryland played under Bobby Ross. I thought he was great from Day 1 and just felt I KNEW it...Maybe Sally's dead-on regarding Zorn...

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Riga, Latvia: I've noticed that in the last few weeks when you and the other national media praise "brain" schools like Northwestern and Vanderbilt, and make passing references to Stanford and Duke, that they fail to note the school with perhaps the most academically and athletically accomplished student body: Navy. I'm not US Military, but I admire anyone who can compete on a national level athletically while attending a demanding school like Navy.

Michael Wilbon: I root for the Naval Academy for JUST those reasons.

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Norfolk, Va.: What are your thoughts/belief about Brett Favre supposedly leaking "insider info" to the Lions? Is it possible the "pride of Packerdom" is that vindictive?

Michael Wilbon: I would be incredibly disappointed if Favre initiated a phone call to the Lions to dime out the Packers. That would be...just sad...And I'd be angry if I was a former teammate of his. Charles Woodson was very specific and very eloquent in his criticism of Favre...Now, there have been denials over this. But the Lions coaches had "no comment" which tells me there's some smoke at the very least...It needs some more reporting before we slam Brett to the ground...It'll come out. These things always do.

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Washington, D.C.: Has Tony uttered the phrase "Curse of Les Boules" in private to you yet for this upcoming season?

Michael Wilbon: Oh yes...Yep.

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Anonymous: in watching the Rays last night, and their young pitchers, including the rookie pitcher just drafted from Vanderbilt, is there any hope for the Nationals? Not worst-to-first overnight, but the Rays have talent. Are the Nationals really getting a solid group of overall talent?

Michael Wilbon: There's hope if the Nationals can scout like the Rays and Marlins and As and Twins. You think they can?

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Dulles Airport: Good seeing you in the Big Ten commercial. Do you ever get back to Northwestern to speak to the students?

Michael Wilbon: Thank you...And yes, all the time. I go back to Evanston almost whenever I'm invited...or whenever I can see a game or show somebody the campus. I love the school, the community, the people. It's still very much home for me after all these years...And believe me, it's been a long time since graduation...Being in that promotion (on air during Big Ten games) with people like President Ford, Magic Johnson, Tennessee Williams, Ang Lee, Jesse Owens...it's incredible. Charlton Heston would have been a more appropriate choice to represent Northwestern, it seems to me, but obviously I'm beyond honored.

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Arlington, Va.: Okay Mike, here's a hypothetical. The NFL declares one week during the season "communication-free week" where all headsets and microphones between coaches and the QB are turned off. The QB has to call the entire game on his own. Which starting QB today would you pick that would do the best job?

Michael Wilbon: Peyton Manning...He knows more about offense than half the coaches in the league...Tom Brady if he was healthy. Donovan McNabb...Ben Roethlisberger...They have command of the offense, of offensive football.

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Washington, D.C.: It must be frustrating for a Cubs fan like yourself to see a team like the Rays in the World Series. Especially so considering they don't have enough fans to even sell out a game 7 ALCS.

Michael Wilbon: Seeing those empty seats was unreal...But I'm happy for the team. We've had Joe Maddon, the manager of the Rays, on PTI a copule of times this summer...What a nice man, and obviously a great manager. I think he's manager of the year, hands down...I also think he made the most incredible mistake of the playoffs, in Game 5 at Boston the other night...But it's one play and doesn't in any way alter his body of work...

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Philadelphia, Pa: Mike, FOX's coverage of the NLCS: I realize a return of Manny, Joe Torre, and the L.A fan-base to Boston would've been a better story, but it seemed that Joe Buck completely overlooked the Phillies demonstrative 5-game victory. By simply talking Manny, Manny, Manny, ad nauseam the game seemed secondary. Whatever happened to reporting the game between the lines?

Michael Wilbon: I wasn't paying such close attention to the broadcast that I can comment on the text and tone of Joe Buck's remarks. Overall, I think Buck is fabulous, great at both football and baseball. But to your general point, I think there's way too much concern over how things will play in the ratings. Tony K is obsessed with that stuff. I'll engage in the discussion; you can't escape it. But there's too much talk about who would be the best matchup for TV...As if the teams or players should give a damn about that. You leave it to some people, and the only teams that would ever play for the championship would be from New York, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Dallas...Thankfully, that's not the case.

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Chantilly, Va.: You going to go to any Caps games this year? They really have something there.

Michael Wilbon: Yep, I'll get over to see the Cappies, probably in late November/early December for the first time. I'm excited to see them.

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Washington, D.C.: Mike,

Wanted to make sure I get this boxing comment in. Saturday night, I watched a 43-year-old man destroy the 26-year-old next big thing in boxing. It truly was one of the great sporting accomplishments I've seen. Even more than Big George -- he was losing that fight before the big right found a home. Hopkins won every round!

I hope you saw the fight in some way, shape or form. Hopkins continues to do amazing things and in the eyes of many, hasn't lost since dropping a close one to Roy Jones Jr. 16 years ago. As a boxing fan, it's been a pleasure to watch an all-time great.

Michael Wilbon: Thanks for that report on the fight. Look, anybody who has known me for more than a minute knows how much I love professional boxing. It's the greatest of all the sports to cover...And I made the trip to Las Vegas probably two dozen times in my life to cover or watch big fights and loved every minute of it...I've seen Hopkins fights over the years. And while I appreciate his skill, I hate watching him fight. So I didn't buy the pay-per-view, which is a rarity for me. That's how much I dislike Hopkins' style, his refusal often to engage the opponent...It's just not for me. Now, I know the guy is a worthy champ. He's interesting to talk to, he's good for boxing. But I just turn my back to his fights. They're rarely entertaining, rarely action-packed...Sounds like I need to call somebody and get the tape...

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Chevy Chase, Md.: Any chance of seeing a picture of you with your 15 inch afro from the 1970s? You mentioned it on PTI last week.

Michael Wilbon: I doubt it. I know there are no pictures of me from that era on the internet (thank God)...People wouldn't have any idea who it was anyway, considering how dramatically different I look. I've got a few photos, yes, but they're staying under lock and key.

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Annapolis, Md.: Mike, Peter King makes a pretty good argument for why the league should not expand the schedule to 18 games. Not sure if you've seen it, but he lists every starter that has been hurt for an extended period of time already this season. It's a pretty staggering amount. Just curious what your thoughts were. I am inclined to agree with Peter.

washingtonpost.com: Monday Morning Quarterback (si.com, Oct. 20)

Michael Wilbon: The dumbest thing I've heard is this notion that the NFL should lengthen its season. It's absurd. And to add more playoff teams and another weekend...just beyond unwise. One thing people love about the NFL is it isn't the marathon that the NBA, MLB and NHL are...Now the NFL wants to do what, go until March? You would hope the very, very smart men who lead the NFL would realize the league is rich enough that it doesn't need another money grab...I'm hoping, but you know wherever there's money professional leagues, like all other businesses, are sure to follow.

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Cowboys: Good afternoon Michael and thanks for doing these chats as well as making what appears to be a full recovery from your heart attack. My question pertains to the mess that is the Dallas Cowboys. Why do you think so many in the media are unwilling to point out what the obvious problem is down there: Jerry Jones. He's an egomaniac determined to control every single aspect of his team and the result is total dysfunction. He completely undermines the authority of the head coach, which creates all kinds of problems, and he's almost clueless when it comes to assessing talent. Until Jones changes his approach to running that organization, they'll never be a threat to win the Super Bowl, the hype the receive notwithstanding.

Michael Wilbon: First, thanks. Second, I don't agree with you about Jerry Jones...I think he's a great owner. Not good...great. That doesn't mean I think he's right about this team. I think having T.O. and Pacman and trading for Roy Williams is all insane. I've been saying--and you can look it up--since the summer that this Cowboys team is totally and completely overrated. It had no chance from jump. BUT, doesn't Jerry Jones have three Super Bowl rings? How many owners today have that? Three rings. He has kept the brand of the Cowboys at the top of the sports and entertainment pyramid in America. His teams are always reaching for the brass ring, not just hoping to be competitive. Okay, Jerry has a big ego. How many of these owners don't? I think he's great for football, great for sports in this country. I'm sure you can tell I'm a fan of Jerry Jones and what he does...just not this team this season.

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Chicago:48 points?! Misprint in the paper?

Michael Wilbon:48 points is possible in Chicago if the defense contributes 7 and special teams contribute 14...That's 21 points not from the offense. Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining...I love the way the Bears put up points yesterday because the defense is limping severely. The top three CBs (Vasher, Tillman, Manning) are all out...So, I'm glad we stole one from Minnesota...The Bears should be, minimum, 5-2...maybe 6-1. Three losses on the final play of the game are killing me. But Kyle Orton is better than anybody outside that locker room ever dreamed. He's got a better command of the offense than any QB we've had since Jim McMahon, unless you count Erik Kramer one year when he threw for a club-record 4,000-plus yards. But Orton would be in the MVP talk if the defense (overrated even when healthy) had held those three 4th quarter leads.

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Washington, D.C.: Wilbon,

Love PTI and the chats, keep up the good work. I'm wondering though, where do the Red Sox go from here? Clearly they've had a good season, but with some of the players getting old, and others having a drop in form, what should they do over the winter to improve?

Michael Wilbon: I didn't mean to leave out the Red Sox when talking about teams with superior scouting. The Red Sox will identify talent, as they have under this regime, sign guys and put together a championship-caliber ballclub. That's what they do. I can't see any reason for it to change. The Red Sox, starting at the top, are simply a great organization. They'll replace aging parts with new ones and keep rolling.

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Arlington, Va.: The Kellen Winslow news is bizarre. Six staph infections by Browns in three years? What's going on over there? Is the Browns facility not kept clean?

Michael Wilbon: I don't know what the deal is with K. Winslow...I just hope he can get healthy...But back to a question which I lost in the queue, about black fans not wearing the jerseys of white Redskins...Good question. I think the answer is that there are far, far, far more identifiable black players, particularly skill position players (Portis, Moss, Campbell, etc.) than white players. Cooley is the only one I think of as having a jersey folks would wear...Maybe Jon Jansen because he's been around for awhile, but who else? I do notice this. I think it depends on the city and on the sport. For years and years, you'd never see black players wearing a Larry Bird jersey. It was social commentary more than anything else. But NOW, you do. You see black kids wearing Bird jerseys more than occasionally...Yes, some of this is a Hip-Hop expression and has nothing to do with the Celtics or Bird, but many of those kids know exactly who Bird was...In Chicago, you see black kids wearing Urlacher jerseys because he's THE MAN on that team...I bought my son, for instance, an Urlacher jersey. My nephew Jordan has two jerseys: Walter Payton, Brian Urlacher. So, I think it depends on the team and the stars they have. But I think there also a personal identification. I was looking to see who wears what jerseys in Boston when I was hear over the summer...Sox not Celtics (who have no identifiable white players)...I saw, of course, some white fans wearing David Ortiz jerseys but not nearly the number as various white players. I don't think that indicts anybody...just personal identification and how we see ourselves.

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Los Angeles: Why is the NFL playing a game in London during the middle of the season?

Michael Wilbon: To sell jerseys...That's the cynical response. But it's ridiculous in my mind.

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New York: Hi Michael, You and Thomas Friedman are my two "must read" columnists. Thank you for keepin it real and doing these chats.

My question is what the heck is going on in Charlottesville? After starting 0-2, including a loss to Duke, the Cavs have won three straight against somewhat respectable opponents: UMD, EC, and UNC. I understand a lot of fans have incredible mood swings - wanting to fire Al Groh one week and singing his praises the next, but how much of the 0-2 start and this 3 win run can you actually attribute to the coach? Over/Under 50 percent? Thank you.

Michael Wilbon: Great question...My wife is a UVA alumn who is very involved as an alum, so I get a healthy dose of Cavaliers-related stuff in my household, and that starts with the football team in the fall. I don't know what to make of Virginia and Groh...I don't know what to make of the wild performance swings of Maryland and Fridge...I just don't. And I've heard the wild reactions to the coaches and what should happen with them...Every time I start to make up my mind about either of those teams, something dramatic happens to stop me in my tracks. Look, we're going to have to wait for the season to play out before deciding what we should ultimately feel about Maryland and Virginia...lest we do the stupid thing, like Clemson did in the middle of the season. Virginia's win over UNC was very impressive, yes. But will I bet the farm on them this weekend? Nope. Maryland neither, even though the Terrapins win over Wake was just as impressive.

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Falls Church, Va.: I can think of a good reason for another regular season football game. Cities need tax revenue after building very expensive football stadiums.

Michael Wilbon: And one home game is going to put those cities over the top? Doubtful.

Okay, gotta run. It's PTI time. Tony is wondering why I'm not on the bus discussing today's show, so I gotta run...Tonight's Denver vs. Pats should be exciting. See you guys next week, when I'll be in Tennessee...Will be good to see the Colts and undefeated Titans...Everybody, enjoy your week, and the World Series...See ya' Monday. MW

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Washington, D.C.: Question about the use of the word "we" when referring to your favorite teams. You used it in reference to the Bears, and today's St. Pete Times has the headline "WE DID IT!" for the Rays.

Did I miss the memo where the St. Pete newspaper became members of the Rays team? Does that bother you?

Michael Wilbon: Yes...I would NEVER do that when covering any game or team...NEVER. And I hate when headline writers start the foam-hand finger waving. The Times should be ashamed of itself, to be that good a newspaper and cheerleading. I hate it. I do it with the teams the people in this chat already know I root for...but NEVER in an official capacity as a reporter/columnist. Cut it out!

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