The Chat House With Michael Wilbon

Michael Wilbon
Washington Post Sports Columnist
Tuesday, October 27, 2009; 2:15 PM

Welcome to another edition of The Chat House, where Post columnist Michael Wilbon was online Tues., Oct. 27 at 2:15 p.m. ET to discuss the Redskins, the NFL, the MLB playoffs, the impending NBA season, World Wide Wilbon (which is Not Just Another Sorry, No-Account Sports Blog) the latest sports news, his columns and anything else on your mind.


Cumming, Ga.: 44 years Michael. 44 years. My head is in my hands. Snyder won't sell and shows no signs of getting any smarter. I can't go out in public wearing my Redskin colors. What do we do?

Michael Wilbon: Ah, go sport the colors proudly. Come on, now. Look, I'm wearing my Bears hat today and we were humiliated over the weekend by the Bengals! Are you kidding me? Go get a nice shiny new burgandy-and-gold cap right now and wear it. Hey, you gotta ride these things out. This is what being a fan is all about, riding out the losing times. It won't last forever...okay, maybe another three or four years. ... I don't think the Redskins will get it right with the next hire either, to tell you the truth. I think he'll do the same old thing on the next hire, then perhaps get it right after that.

Oh, hi everybody...sorry we're so late but I got home from FedEx Field at 3 a.m., had family things to tend to starting at 6 a.m. so I'm operating on two hours sleep following the game, but we'll jump right into the Redskins and I promise to stay awake the next 55 minutes...


October = Best Month to be a Sports Fan: While I am a Redskins fan and their season has been tough to follow, the bright side is this is my favorite time of the year as a sports fan. We're in the middle of the college and NFL seasons. We're a month into hockey season. The NBA kicks off tonight and Game 1 of the World Series is tomorrow night.

Also, there should be plenty of excitement at the Verizon Center this winter to help cope with the abysmal display at FedEx Field. At least you'll see some offense!

Michael Wilbon: Now this is the excitement I expect to hear out of sports fans, no matter how bad their specific pro football or college football team is at the moment. This is a wonderful time to be a sports fan, what with all four major sports in play at the same time ... I don't know that this has happened before, since the NBA season usually begins in November and the World Series has historically ended a full 10 days earlier, even in the days of multiple rounds of baseball playoffs. This is great. Our Redskins fan from the first question needs to consider many wonderful alternatives ...


Washington, D.C.: What's up with Big Baby busting his hand in a fight with a friend? The C's are talking about disciplining him. What gives?

Michael Wilbon: Just found out about this late last night. Haven't heard who the former college teammate is supposed to be. This hurts the Celtics big time, if Big Baby is out for several months, which is being reported several places. Ouch! One of the Celtics' strengths was supposed to be frontcourt depth.


Dallas, Tex.: So are the Cowboys for real as a deep-playoff threat? As Super Bowl contenders? At 4-2, they are now in select company. But so few wins over real teams, do we need to see more clean, solid wins over winning-record teams before they can be included in the short list?

Michael Wilbon: Great question. The Cowboys aren't on my short list. That was a nice victory over the Falcons that Dallas had the other day, but I'm convinced the Cowboys are overrated in terms of talent and in terms of being able to win games when the lights are bright ...


Washington, D.C.: I'm not a Redskin fan but, in all fairness shouldn't Vinne Cerrato be evaluated based on his decisions and inability to keep his mouth shut? Or is he the first line of defense for Daniel Snyder?

Michael Wilbon: He is the first line of defense, and also should be evaluated on the talent base of the team, which ain't good right now. Everybody saw this coming with the offensive line; he should have seen it coming to and prevented it from happening. That's his job. I've been real slow to jump on Vinny (compared to other folks in town) because I thought Snyder was making decisions and Vinny was taking the fall. But Snyder can't take the hit for all these bad decisions, can he? Vinny has to be responsible for some of them, right?


Silver Spring, Md.: Hi,

Going off of the previous comment about this being the best time of the year, I have to agree and this is mainly because I get to teach (or try to) my 5-month-old son all about Hockey, Basketball, Baseball, and yes...Football.

Great time and so exciting!

Michael Wilbon: Thanks ...


Ugh: The Redskins problems are even more glaring when you watch other teams and the firepower they have. Assuming the Skins season continues as is (very poorly), do you have any feel for what Snyder might do this offseason in terms of bringing in a real GM?

Michael Wilbon: This is the Billion Dollar Question. And I'll believe he turns the team over to a football man when I see the evidence of it. So, count me as a skeptic. The team isn't going to be a serious contender until he does that. I know folks here hope he will. Some say, "Oh yeah, he has to now." Really? I think he'll try to hire another celebrity coach himself, convince the guy to take both jobs (which is what we object to already) and still be involved on the sly. I'll believe it when I see it ...


Ozzie or bust: For the right price and title, can Ozzie be pried away from Baltimore?

Michael Wilbon: Great question. To come to the Redskins? No, why would he do that when he works for a guy, Steve Bisciotti, who is one of the best owners in the league ... a guy who doesn't insert himself into every situation. People I know there love working the Ravens. The Redskins? Not so much in a lot of areas. ... Ozzie runs a football team and, yes, answers to the owner but doesn't spend his whole day with the owner or in front of the owner or trying to satisfy the owner. And Ozzie is incredibly close to Art Modell, who is like his Godfather. Couldn't see it happening ... But that's the kind of person the Redskins need.


New York, N.Y.: Can you role play Mel Kiper Jr. for a second? Who do the Redskins take with their top 5 pick this offseason?

Michael Wilbon: How about working a trade to get two first round picks and using them both to take offensive linemen, whose names very few of us know. ... Or it, say, the No. 6 pick can be turned into four picks in the top 65 and you could take three offensive linemen and a running back? Wouldn't that be productive?


Alexandria, Va.: You say that you see the Redskins coming around in 3 years or so. How do you see that happening? It seems like they continue to make the same mistakes over and over and over again, and never learn from them.

Also, how are they going to get a serious head coach to come here, in light of the past 10 years of undercutting, firing, and bad personnel decisions?

I want to believe...

Michael Wilbon: I said it could happen in three or four years, not that it's an absolute. I could see also see it not happening, or continuing along this path for awhile if Snyder continues to try and pick coaches. But three, four years seems about right to me ...


Baltimore, Md.: Pointless, but interesting sports trivia: On Channel 13 here in Baltimore this a.m., Marty Bass said that this Sunday will be only the second time that games in all four major sports will be played on the same day -- MLB, NBL, NBA, NHL. This knowledge doesn't advance civilization, but it's nice bar bet material.

Michael Wilbon: Two years we have come up with here at PTI. 2001 when the World Series (Yankees vs. D-Backs) was pushed into November by the tragedy of 9/11...Well, I already have a revision. I thought 1989 the year of the earthquake in Northern California...but turns out the As vs. Giants series still ended Oct. 28. Remember, there was no wild-card series at the time to push the whole thing into November when the NBA is usually starting...


Big Name Coaches: I know people are hoping for the Skins to hire one of the big names on the sidelines. But I'm trying real hard to remember a time when a coach left a Super Bowl winning time, and won a Super Bowl with a different team. If it's been done please correct me, but wouldn't they be better served trying to find the next young Holmgren or Shanahan instead?

Michael Wilbon: Um, YES! I've been screaming this for years! Stop the Celebrity Search and find a great coach-in-waiting. Bobby Beathard did it with Joe Gibbs, didn't he? Why don't more people here, given the deification of J. Gibbs, realize this and have more interest in that model of finding a head coach?


Frederick, Md.: Does the time you spend in the Phoenix area allow you to play a little more golf? I understand that you really enjoy the game.

Michael Wilbon: Yes and yes. Going there Friday to essentially sleep and play golf before the NBA season goes into full swing. The temperatures there are rather cool for this time of year ... in the 70s by the time I arrive Friday ... 70s, however, is never anything to complain about, especially when there might not be a cloud for for or five days. There are a ton of great golf courses within 10 minutes of my home in Scottsdale.


Vancouver, Canada: Hi from Vancouver Canada! I attended every home game as a child between 1983-1987. If the Redskins ship is sinking, I'm going down with it. But...

... Banning signs from FedEx field?? Say it ain't so. How egregious is this?

Michael Wilbon: Yeah, I heard this last night and it is unforgivable. There's no justification for it and the NFL should put a stop to it immediately. It's shameful. So, the Redskins want to put a stop to freedom of speech? If it's not vulgar it should be left alone.


Baltimore, Md.: A lot of criticism lately of Jason Campbell coming from many quarters. What's your take on him? I see a good QB with a bad line in a system that doesn't fit him. Still, there are smart, talented guys who just don't cut it in the NFL, where everything happens two steps faster than college, and they never quite adjust.

Michael Wilbon: I'm not going to argue that Campbell is Joe Montana. He's got a long way to go to become a top-flight starting QB in the NFL. But don't tell me that having a new coordinator every few months and having no line and playing in a system that doesn't suit him at all (the West Coast offense) doesn't hurt him. Of course it does. I'd take Campbell ahead of a whole lot of people folks claim they want to see at QB. How's Jay Cutler doing in Chicago right now with 10 interceptions in six games? You so sure he's a championship QB? I hope so because that's my team, but the fact is he and Cutler are about a wash. Their records can't be very different at all. I'll have Tony Reali check and see how close the records of Campbell and Cutler are ...


Re: Coaching Search: Although it's best to find that young coach in waiting instead of one of the former Super Bowl winning coaches not working, who in the front office knows enough about football to be able to identify that coach in waiting? This is the same team that hired a Offensive Coordinator before they had a head coach (then promoted him to head coach a week later) and we see what that has done.

Michael Wilbon: First, let me mention that Cutler is 20-23 as a starter in Denver and Chicago and Campbell is 18-25 ... Not much there, is it?

As for this question about the coaching search, I agree with you completely. That's why I wouldn't want to see Snyder and Cerrato (who must know who the great assistants are) hiring another coach. I want the new president of operations, or whatever he's called, doing that.


Banning signs from FedEx field: You know what? In spite of everything I'd still been planning on buying my husband a Redskins jersey as a gift. Until I heard about this sign ban. They've made a lot of bad PR moves this season, but this is the straw that broke the camel's back for me. They're not getting another cent from me.

Michael Wilbon: I understand your position completely. No argument with that sentiment here. It's beyond arrogant; it's offensive.


Arlington, Va.: As mentioned above, many of us Redskins are looking at a 44-year-old Danny Snyder and thinking, "Oh, lord, we're going to have to put with the same guy making the same mistakes for the next twenty of thirty years." Can you think of a case in which a team owner started off making horrible decisions, and eventually getting a clue before selling the team or turning operations over to the heir apparant?

Michael Wilbon: Hmmm, this bears some research...I can point out one who started out this way and simply got it right over time: George Steinbrenner of the New York Yankees.


Washington, D.C.: Is there anyone outside the organization that Dan Snyder actually listens to? Someone who is a confidante who could be completely honest with him and tell him what a joke the Skins are nationally? Or is he 100 percent surrounded by Yes Men?

Michael Wilbon: I'm not going to pretend to know all of Dan Snyder's confidants...But I wonder if there's anybody who will sit with him at dinner and say, "Bro, you're out of your mind ..." only in tougher language than that. Most of us have that. I do. My brother, Don, for starters...I don't know how you go through life without having several people who can regularly jack you up. But I wonder how many billionaires have that?


Walla Walla, Wash.: I agree with the Post about hiring the next big coach, but success can't only be about a Super Bowl victory. Holmgren came to Seattle and made them relevant despite not winning the ring. Still a success. And by the way, way ammused by all the over reaction from Redskins fans. Welcome to the life of a Seattle sports fan!

Michael Wilbon: Welcome to the life of fans in a lot of places. I agree with you; Redskins fans seem to be greater extremists than in most places ... I don't know why that is. There just seems to be a lack of perspective when it comes to pro football.


Mel Kiper: I like your answer, how about what you said, plus trade Santana Moss/Clinton Portis and pick up 1 or 2 decent vetern o lineman also. Then it seems like we do not have to do a complete overhaul. We would have a good, not great, defense. A good o line with some depth using all of the players we have today as backups. And we can find a vetern receiver or running back out there, not like Moss or Portis would be hard to replace.

Stick with Campbell one more year, with protection hopefully helping him. And then keep drafting over the next couple of years and get younger while still having a decent team.

Michael Wilbon: See, I like your outline. Don't know with certainty that it would work, but I like this ...


Errant balls in desert scrable: What do you recommend when you hit a ball into the desert: pick it up or pull out an old 7 iron and give it a whack? Or do you even venture into snake territory?

Michael Wilbon: I don't put my hand into the desert too often. Not when it's 95 degrees or higher outside and the Rattlers are slithering around. Get that utility 7-iron that you can hit out of the desert, dude. Might not need it at Falls Road but it's a must in Arizona.


Ann Arbor, Mich.: Hi Mike. In Michigan we are suffering with a lousy economy, the Tigers' recent choke, and the Lions' perennial disaster of a football team. But we could usually count on a good showing from Michigan football and a playoff run from the Red Wings and the Pistons. Now those don't look particularly promising. In fact, there is talk that this could be the first year the Pistons and Wings miss the playoffs since '82-'83. Do you see any hope in this bleak sports landscape?

Michael Wilbon: I don't care how slow a start the Red Wings are off to; I'll bet right now the Red Wings make the playoffs and win in the playoffs as well. I feel for Detroit, for Michigan in general. I grew up in Chicago and hardly anybody who ever grew up in Chi doesn't have family in Detroit. I spent time there every summer as a kid with my cousin. We'd go to Tigers-White Sox games or Tigers-Indians games at old Tiger Stadium ... it was Briggs when I was a kid, I think. We'd go to Bulls-Pistons games in Detroit when they were played at Cobo, I think it was the downtown arena. Sloan and Van Lier vs. Dave Bing. I can't root for the Wolverines in football; that's a Big Ten thing. But I root for Detroit teams and Cleveland teams when there's no conflict with my Chicago teams ... And for more reason than ever now, I hope the teams in Michigan and Ohio can give people who are suffering there some degree of comfort. There's great civic pride there and I hope it's rewarded.


Washington, D.C.: So -- Dallas has a legit deep threat in Austin. What does this mean for Roy Williams?

Michael Wilbon: Roy Williams is just about officially a bust.


Re: There just seems to be a lack of perspective when it comes to pro football. : I would hypothesize the length of the season plays into this. The Bears are 3-3, still well within the Wild Card hunt, and you're upset too. It happens everywhere.

Michael Wilbon: Oh, I'm totally irrational about the Bears, without question and I admit it. But once you point this out, I can back off and say, "Yep, you're right." My friends who are Redskins fans don't seem to do this as quickly ...

Okay, gotta run and prepare for PTI. Good guest segment on the NBA today with Bill Simmons of ESPN who has a good book out on professional basketball you should check out. See you guys next Monday. Have a great week. Thanks for chatting. MW


Arlington, Va.: Signs - Redskins had no problem letting the people with their "Unconditional Love" sign stay in the stands. Absolutely unbelievable that this censorship is going on - they're even escorting out those who dare to chant "Sell the team!"

Michael Wilbon: Really? This is bad ... really bad.


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