The Chat House With Michael Wilbon: Redskins, Thanksgiving football, Wizards and more

Michael Wilbon
Washington Post Sports Columnist
Monday, November 23, 2009; 1:15 PM

Welcome to another edition of The Chat House, where Post columnist Michael Wilbon was online Mon., Nov. 23 to discuss the Redskins, the NFL, the Wizards, the 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.

A transcript follows

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The Redskins' last stand?: Mike, given the tough nature of that loss and the mounting injuries, do you think that might have been their last stand? Sooner or later, they've got to crack and in some way give in to reality that their season is over and I wonder if this game will mark that turning point.

Michael Wilbon: Hi Everybody ... Happy Thanksgiving Week! This stretch starting with last Thursday (Okay, my birthday) through New Year's Day is my favorite six-week stretch of the year, moreso even than any six-week stretch of spring or summer. It's so entirely festive, so upbeat and full of family (if you're into that, and I am) ... Glad to be at the beginning of this week. Not even the Bears performance last night can bring me down, especially since Northwestern won its eighth game and is well on its way to consecutive bowl appearances for the first time ever. So, this is about as good a mood as you'll get me in all year. Sorry to start with a Redskins loss for the many of you who care so much. It wasn't a last stand; the Redskins played well, played tough ... demonstrated some heart. If I was a Redskins fan I'd be pretty proud of the way they played, given the Cowboys are a better team, though so fragile it seems to me. Look, you can't really take much solace in any loss in pro sports ... but the Redskins have big-time injuries, especially now at running back. The offensive line struggles, still ... But the Redskins didn't buckle. They went toe-to-toe with their hated rival. Have I dragged out enough cliches for you yet?

By the way, you people who were so adamant, so loud about getting Jay Cutler or Mark Sanchez ... how's that looking now? Cutler leads the NFL in interceptions and is the biggest disappointment in the NFL this season. Sanchez, after going 3-0 and being the toast of New York, is simply toast. He's terrible. So, I'd take Jason Campbell over both of them right now ... RIGHT NOW!


Detroit, Michigan: Hey Wilbon,

I loved your comment about going antiquing instead of watching the Lions-Browns game. I am in the blackout zone, and I wasn't at all disappointed not to watch the game until I saw the highlights.

Any chance the Lions stay on a roll and beat the Packers on Thursday?

One last football question: any chance that the Michigan alums overrule AD Bill Martin vote of confidence and decide to cut their losses with RichRod? Perhaps Jim Harbaugh and Les Miles will decide to come back to Ann Arbor.

Michael Wilbon: Michigan, from all indications, is going to keep Rich Rodriguez for at least one more year. I read the "no ifs ands and buts" quote from Bill Martin...I think I actually believe Michigan's powers-that-be want him there next year. I think they need to committ to him for next year, at the very least. Am I certain that will be the case? How can you say you're certain anymore when it comes to coaches and what will happen? I wouldn't take Les Miles if he paid ME to come, but Jim Harbaugh is another story. How could Michigan not be interested in a Michigan Man with Harbaugh's success so far at Stanford? But maybe Harbaugh is fine staying at Stanford? Look, I'm a Stanford groupie. The only school I daydream about going to if I had to do my life over again is Stanford. II'm not staying I'd change, but I do wonder). It's got the greatest combination of sports/athletics/campus beauty in America. I WOULD NEVER LEAVE STANFORD if I had a job at Stanford. Never. Never Ever. No chance. I told Ty Willingham that once, that I understood why left for Notre Dame but I would have defended him with my last breath if he'd stayed at Stanford ... Anyway, that Lions-Browns game might be the most entertaining game of the season other than Colts-Patriots. It was great. Who knew?


Montreal, QC: With injuries pilling up week after week, other than showing we do have guys that are willing to step up, have we angered the Gods or something? I mean what next? A tornado crashes on FedEx Field?

Michael Wilbon: Stop with the "woe is us." You're having a bad year...Not as bad as Cleveland or Tampa, but bad. A bunch of teams have injuries and losses piling up ... So, stop whining and accept it.


Montreal, QC: Essay question: How would you convince Snyder to hire Bill Polian or his son Chris as Redskins GM. Discuss.

Michael Wilbon: I haven't been able. I've had this discussion with Dan after games when he's incredibly disappointed after a loss ... before games when he's incredibly spirited and optimistic ... over dinner when he has ordered something for me I don't even like ... after dinner when there's been red wine ... in the newspaper when he might not even be listening ... on the phone when he's called to yell at me for writing something he hated ... on the treadmill ... in the car (with blue tooth) ... in Seattle, in Miami ... I've actually had this conversation with him for nearly double-digit years and I haven't been able to convince him. And while I'm NOBODY Snyder should be listening to in the first place, I know he's been told this by people he probably should listen to and not taken the advice (yet) anyway. If you read this space on Mondays you should know I don't think he'll do it after firing Zorn either. I think there's one more celebrity hire he'll make ... and I don't care how famous the person is, it's not going to work until a football person has control of the day-to-day football-related decision-making.


Washington, D.C.: Mike,

I was listening to Joe Thiesman on the radio last week telling old Redskins vs. Cowboys stories and thought to myself "I could sit here and listen to him tell these stories all day". Who are some of your favorite sports story tellers, or just people who you can listen to talk all day?

Michael Wilbon: You can put Joe Theisman right up there at the top of the list ... And I've had that opportunity for 30 years and love it every time. Look, there are HUNDREDS of great story-tellers who are former athletes. You think Charles Barkley can't tell a story? Are you kidding, it's like the old E.F. Hutton commercials where the room stops and listens in. Michael Jordan, same thing. Jordan and Barkley and Magic are among my favorites, and I get to sit with Magic every day in the playoffs. It's like, "Uncle Ervin, tell me another one, pleeeeeeeze." Jon Barry, who I've worked with for years now, GREAT story teller. The older guys get, the more the revel in stories. Shaq is already good ... Grant Hill ... But Hubie Brown, he's a Hall of Fame story teller. There's no NBA head coach who isn't a great story teller. I've never met one who isn't. Oh, John Thompson. Perhaps with Hubie. Of course, Red Auerbach was his own Mount Rushmore of storytelling ... By himself. Red might have been the greatest. One of the great, great things about being a sportswriter is you just sort of cozy up to the best story tellers. It's the great perk of being in the business. And there are guys I don't have daily access to, maybe somebody like Hot Rod Hundley in Utah, who's great. Harry Caray. This, by the way, is a great question. Thanks for asking it ...


Anonymous: Re: Stop with the "woe is us." Thanks, I'm probably not the only one who needs a slap in the face and accept the reality. Feels like the biggest AA party in the country ''The first step is admitting it''...

Michael Wilbon: Anytime. Your bill is in the mail ...


Fresno, Calif.: Didn't Northwestern go to consecutive bowls in the mid-90's? Rose and Citrus, I believe.

Other than Northwestern, doesn't this CFB season seem anti-climatic to you? The undefeated teams keep winning, the only real question is whether Florida or Alabama plays Texas for the so-called "championship." Meanwhile, little TCU and Boise keep drubbing their opponents and wondering if they'll make a BCS bowl so they can pay their bills. Riveting stuff.

Michael Wilbon: Oops, yes. Other than that. And YES, I totally agree with your assessment of the college season.


Washington, D.C.: If you could have any current Redskin player on your team for the next five years, who would you take?

Michael Wilbon: Good question. Brian Orakpo. The kid is really, really good.


300 Miles Southwest of Gainesville: Forget it, Golden Domers. Why would Urban Meyer leave a repeat/threepeat champion to go clean up somebody else's overrated mess?

Michael Wilbon: He says today he will not leave. Now, Nick Saban lied through his teeth when this came up with him, both at Miami and again going to Alabama. But I don't know that I want to presume that Urban is a liar. Nothing to suggest that, is there?


Arlington, Va. (and Conn. native): Hi, Michael,

After U-Conn's 2OT upset of Notre Dame in South Bend, what are the chances of the Fighting Irish joining the Big Ten (really the Big 11) in all college sports? They've been coasting on their legacy since Lou Holtz left, and didn't the academic side wanted to do so 10 years ago?

Michael Wilbon: I just cannot imagine it ... I know this comes up from time to time, but Notre Dame is still so secure in its independence ... Cannot see that happening in my lifetime. And yes, I plan to be around ...


South Bend, Indiana: Urban Meyer isn't walking through that door, is he?

Michael Wilbon: Again, he has said in the last 24 hours he's not leaving Florida. If we're talking replacement for Weiss, I give you Mr. Kornheiser's top five list if he was running Notre Dame: 1) Pete Carroll 2) Gruden 3) Paul Johnson from Georgia Tech ... "Looks like it knows what he's doing." 4) I'd go to the Mid-America or WAC and find the next Tressel, a guy in a vest. 5) Nick Saban ... We know he's available. Look what he's done Alabama. I'd dangle some money in front of Saban ..."

I just hope Notre Dame keeps its sights off my guy, Pat Fitzgerald. You think an Irish-Catholic kid from the South Side of Chicago who's winning at Northwestern isn't a person of interest at Notre Dame? I'm terrified of Notre Dame being intersted in him.


Recovering Redskins Anonymous: What is your take on the whole safety discussion that has been going on for a while now with Madden and Al? No more helmets in practice? No more wedge? State of the art helmets? Transform the NFL into the National Flag Football League?

Michael Wilbon: This is the discussion of now in football circles, from high school to the NFL. We could do an entire hour on just this topic, but won't. Let me just say this, boxing (behind baseball) was the most popular sport in America from the early 1900s until the late-1950s. A lot of things unraveled boxing that have nothing to do with head injuries...but injuries and death had a lot to do with it becoming unseemly to a lot of people, millions. Boxing is over now. I'm not saying football will meet the same fate; I can't even imagine it. But I think this examination of the nature of head injuries has to be taken seriously and shuold be the subject of the most exhaustive investigations and examinations possible. And I think we're looking at serious consequences down the road, possibly. Could the results threaten football's unrivales popularity? Yes. If parents look at the information and stop their kids from playing football -- even if it's only a trickle at first -- like I am likely to do with my son, who's the size of a tight end at 20 months -- how many other parents will feel as I feel? How far will the NFL need to go to protect its players, its greatest assets? Suppose the league loses great players, or even really good players like Brian Westbrook to head injuries? I don't know where this is going but I don't take it lightly.


Washington, D.C.: LeBron says he wants to wear the No. 6 because every team should retire Jordan's 23. Doesn't he know about Bill Russell and his importance to the NBA? The man not only won 11 titles cementing the Celtics in basketball folklore, but also became the first African-American head coach in the NBA, winning a title as well.

Michael Wilbon: Yeah, I'm with you on this. I applaud LeBron, and told him this last week when the Cavaliers were here in D.C., for going back 25 years to study the NBA. This generation of people, not just athletes, doesn't do that, doesn't take into account anything that happened before this morning's SportsCenter. It's amazing; I'm all over young sportswriters about this all the time ... young journalists. So, LeBron has made (and continues to make) a great effort to know the game before he got into it. Does he have to go back to and beyond Bill Russell? Absolutely, yes. No question. He has to become more intimately familiar with Russell's contribution. But where LeBron is now is a good start. Do I believe "23" ought to be retired everywhere? No, I don't. But again, if LeBron starts calling attention to the history of the NBA, this is a good thing ... as good a place to start as I can imagine.


Downtown Antarctica: Wilbon-did you see Jerry Jones do THE PENGUIN DANCE yesterday when the Cowboys scored their lonely touchdown to vanquish the weak and lowly Redskins?

Michael Wilbon: We can pray this isn't what he was attempting to do!


Formerly Palo Alto, Calif.: So let us know how long it takes the Stanford public affairs office to send your son some Stanford jerseys.

Michael Wilbon: Did I gush too much over Stanford? Promise you, I'm not the only one who feels that way.


B a s e b a l l A w a r d S e a s o n . . . .: Can they draw these MLB awards out any longer? Maybe next year they will wait until Christmas before announcing the winner of the Chevron-Pepsi Bronze Bag Stealer Award as voted on by some guy in his mom's basement. I mean, I get it, MLB stays in the news and relevant after the season is over, but really, can't they just have an awards dinner to announce all the winners, put it on TV and be done with it?

Michael Wilbon: It's so incredibly stupid that MLB waits until Thanksgiving Week to announce these awards. You do what the NBA does and give your MVP the trophy before the home crowd in the playoffs ... (except if you're Dirk Nowitzki and you've lost to Golden State in the first round and have left the country ... Ooops!) But to drag this out this long. Why? For what reason?


Clearwater, Fla.: A 20 month old! Is that the greatest age or what? What's the funniest thing he's done so far?

Michael Wilbon: I don't know about funniest, but the coolest thing (true story) is he walked into my bedroom a few days ago around 8:45 (Daddy was still asleep), handed me a blue LeBron James All-Star jersey, and said, "Daddy. Put ... it ... on." So I put it on him and then we went to the NBA Store on 5th Ave Saturday and I bought him four jerseys. Anybody want to guess which jerseys I bought him? And don't start with Derrick Rose, he already has that one ... Looked for an Ovechkin jersey at the NHL Store but they were out of them ... gotta come up with a Ovie jersey for him.


Notre Dame's Next Coach: If Swarbrick is really smart, he'll forget Urban Meyer and stick with folks like Brian Kelly, Paul Johnson and your boy Fitz. One name that hasn't been mentioned, but would be a great fit, is Butch Davis. He has experience at resurrecting a formerly-great program and has done wonders at UNC.

Michael Wilbon: Thanks for that. You're right ... I just want Fitz's name stricken from that list!


Old School, USA: Mike, Have the on-field performances gotten a bit excessive in the NFL? The standard ritual after someone makes a routine play is either a flexing of the biceps, a hands-on hips pose while facing the opposing sideline, an exaggerated signal of a 1st Down by a wide receiver, a bodybuilder's pose in a catcher's crouch or a taunting glare into the opposing stands. Whatever happened to professionalism?

Michael Wilbon: It's all over the top on EVERY SINGLE PLAY every single week in the NFL. But I'm 50 years old ... Ooops, 51 now. I'm very old school and hate all of it. Quick story: in 1963 when the Chicago Bears beat the NY Giants to win the NFL Championship, the Bears Richie Petitbon intercepted a pass in the end zone to secure the title. You know how he celebrated? Trotted off the field. You know what that kind of ending would produce today? A stage play in the end zone, that's what. Doug Buffone -- and I hope I have this correct--threw his helmet into the stands at Wrigley Field and George Halas, coach and owner, made him pay for it. Different times.


Durham, N.C.: Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family, first of all. I want to ask a question about Les Wiz. I know it's early, and I know it's still the East, but today's articles describing the (ahem) locker room interactions between Haywood and Arenas - combined with Jamison's references to being a "team player" - certainly seem to bode ill for the team's fortunes this season. Your thoughts?

Michael Wilbon: Isn't this sad, to have this junk already? I will say this: I'm not against Brendan Haywood speaking his mind on this. I like what he's doing. Jamison has come back and looked great in a couple of games ... If they've got this junk going on already in that room, this team is going nowhere. Thing is, who in that organization can get Gilbert to do what the team needs. Gil going for 50 ain't going to solve anything, nothing. You're right, it doesn't bode well. San Antonio is struggilng mightily and the Wizards shouldn't lose to them by 20. No way. This is one of the few times you want to play the Spurs, while they're getting themselves together. Yet, the Wizads no-showed ... right after getting laced in Oklahoma City. Not a good start. And after beating Cleveland decisively the other night. Wow, is it going to be another long winter ... Okay, gotta run and start prep for PTI ... Have a great Thanksgiving everybody! See you Monday after a long sports weekend and we'll have plenty to dissect. If you eat too much, find a treadmill. Later. MW


Bethesda, MD.: I'm going to go with LeBron, Kobe, D-Wade and Garnett for the four jerseys. Am I close?

Michael Wilbon: No ... D Wade, Dwight Howard, Carmelo Anthony, Steve Nash. Three of those guys are people I have relationships with over a long period of time (Wade, Nash, Melo). And the Orlando road blue simply looks good ... AND Howard's a good guy. The problem is, this kid really really wants to wear a jersey every single day ... Jonathan Toews and a generic Montreal Candians jersey, just because he needs to respect the great jerseys in every sport.


AI: Has anybody else talked seriously about your suggestion of Iverson going to the Cavs? Seemed interesting ...

Michael Wilbon: Apparently not Danny Ferry ... though I was told Saturday in NYC that Iverson and LeBron are pretty tight. I don't get it. Also, though, there are some folks who believe Iverson won't be a good fit anywhere ... Kinda harsh, but wow.


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