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The Chat House With Michael Wilbon: The best sports stories of the 00's, Redskins, Tiger Woods and more

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Michael Wilbon
Washington Post Sports Columnist
Monday, December 21, 2009; 2:00 PM

Welcome to another edition of The Chat House, where Post columnist Michael Wilbon will be online Mon., Dec. 21 to discuss the best sports stories of the decade, Redskins, Tiger Woods, 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.

Mike was also excited to defend his candidates for best sports story, athlete and overlooked story of the decade, which are open for user voting now at World Wide Wilbon.

A transcript follows

Discussion Archive * Column Archive * Talking Points Videos

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Michael Wilbon: 'Afternoon everybody...Hope you're all dug out...Especially the people of Montgomery County, which seems to me to be woefully behind in the snow removal department. My street and the street leading up to it hadn't been touched with a country snow play when I left this afternoon. For those of you who might have heard me on ESPN-980 this morning on the T. Kornheiser Show, you know how angry I was about how lame this metropolitan area is when it comes to addressing snow removal ... how lazy and unimaginative and generally dismissive the local governments are when it comes to removing snow, whenver it comes ... You would think we're South Florida the way local officials react to snow ... like "Oh my God, it's snowing here; we've never seen this before!" Anyway, I'm downtown in D.C. now and the D.C. streets were so much clearer than I thought. Okay, I think I'm over this now but I might have another rant left in me. Let's go to sports ... And by the way, we'll do this again tomorrow in a shorter version following the Washington Redskins.

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Mercersburg, Penn.: Michael, Help me understand the Skins front office structure. If Allen is General Manager and Vice President and he hires Shannahan as Head Coach and President, won't Shannahan be higher up in the organization? Who can fire who? Personally, I think you are right and this has Snyder's paw prints all over it.

Michael Wilbon: Shanahan would be the Big Boss, doesn't it seem? Allen, I think, would wind up answering to him. And I don't know that that would be the best way to be successful. And you guys who've read my feelings know how I feel about this: If Dan Snyder is still the puppetmaster and all he's done is get new puppets, I think it's a net zero ... I know ohers will rage that it's not going to be that way at all, but I need to see the proof. The Redskins are out of benefit of the doubt.

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Kabul, Afghanistan: Two quick questions from a distance.

While the Steelers might win enough games to get into the playoffs, somehow losing five games in a row shouldn't make anyone seem playoff qualified.

Why would the Redskins hire Shannahan with the idea (I've heard repeatedly) that his son could be the head coach? Is that what "Redskins nation" wants for a head coach, the son of the big name because the big name was a good head coach?

Michael Wilbon: Okay, if you read "Redskins" and "nation" in the same sentence (or any team and "nation") the question should be discounted ... BUT ... these are perfectly smart questions so we'll forgive the "nation" reference. One, the Steelers, I think, will get into the playoffs which nobody thought possible a week ago. And two, the notion that somebody's son should be the coach because the position is passed down is insane. And if that's true -- and I have no knowledge of it, none -- it would be unthinkable ...

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Burke, Va.: Mike,

Something has been bugging me lately. When Sherman Lewis was called in to help the Redskins anemic offense, the move was openly ridiculed. Now that the Redskins are moving the ball and putting up points on the board all I'm hearing is how wonderful Zorn is. Shouldn't the media eat some crow for their initial ridicule? The turnaround isn't because of Zorn, the turnaround is because Zorn isn't calling plays anymore. Sherman Lewis is due some credit.

Michael Wilbon: I've seen credit given to Sherman Lewis, where I think it belongs ... although let's not get crazy about how good the Redskins are at 4-9. Nobody should get too much credit on a team as bad as this one. They won a couple of games primarily because the defense knocked out the opposing QB (Denver's Kyle Orton and the Raiders' Bruce Gradkowski) ... Good job by the defense ... but I don't know that Sherm Lewis had a ton to do with that?

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Falls Church, Va.: Afternoon Michael,

Is the explosion of sports media (radio, chats, blogs, twitter...) this decade a top ten sports story?

Michael Wilbon: You know what ... Yes, it is. Much of it I hate, but yes, to answer your question honestly, yes, the coverage of sports has changed so dramatically and as you say, exploded, in such a way that it's one of the major developments in sports.

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Gaithersburg, Md.: Michael, saw the movies "Brothers" over the weekend; pretty good, very dark. From there, my own brother and I started talking brother tandems in sports and thought of Bennie/Brian Blades and their successes and trajic ending. Thus began the debate, who's the best brother tandem in all of sports? Shannon and Sterling Sharpe, Gabe and Rafael Ruelas, Horace and Harvey Grant? Who do you think?

Michael Wilbon: How about Peyton and Eli Manning. The DiMaggios--Joe, Vince and Dom. Tikki and Ronde Barber. The Lopez Twins, Brook and Robin, win the Hair Division. Tom and Dick Van Arsdale for those of you who skew older. The Sutter Brothers in the NHL, there are like 6 of them...The Barrys, Jon, Brent and Drew. Mark and Brent Prince. The Alous, Felipe, Matty and Jesus. Jose and Ozzie Canseco ... I know that only scratches the surface ... that's off the top of my head. Michael and Leon Spinks.

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San Diego: Based on how the season has gone so far, would you pick any team other than the Saints and the Colts to make it to the Super Bowl?

Michael Wilbon: Yes. the Chargers and Eagles...That's about the way I feel today. Okay, Colts and Eagles ... Colts and Packers. Chargers and Packers. I can't see the Saints getting there. I think they crested a few weeks ago during the Patriots game. I think the Saints hit their high note in that game and they're not going to get it back. I hope I'm wrong because I root for the Saints and the greater New Orleans ...

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Camp Lejeune, NC: Mike, Is this a done deal with Shanahan? I'm a little skeptical because if Dallas is open I'd think he'd take that because they seem to have some more talent then the skins. Plus a franchise QB. I can almost gaurantee shefter knows what he's going to do but can't say yet. It bugs me this team may be blown up again just when it looks like JC and some young players are starting to gell.

Michael Wilbon: I don't follow the Redskins that kind of closely anymore, not at all. Professional life has morphed for me to where I follow the NBA that closely ... but not the Redskins anymore. I'm not with the team part of every week or every weekend anymore as I was for years and years. So I'd listen to Schefter. I will say this: I think Dallas' talent in some areas is overrated and the Redskins could catch up very quickly in some areas, if they're not already even ... But it seems as if the Shanahan deal is done, done, done ... How crazy would Redskins fans be if he winds up in Dallas? Oh my.

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Virginia Beach, Va.: What do you really think of all the "decade's top ten lists" that come out? Isn't it really completely arbitrary? I mean to a huge soccer fan, Italy winning the World Cup would be No. 1 ... To a track fan, probably Usain Bolt's WR ... etc.

Michael Wilbon: Of course these lists are arbitrary...We all have our biases. My list will be on world wide wilbon by late tonight or early in the morning ... And Italy's not there ... Usain Bolt's emergence might be there. I have 25 nominees. How many have Dale Earnhardt's death in 2001? Mine won't be end-of-decade heavy, I'll tell you that right now. They're interesting to look at if they're well thought out, but they're opinion ... just opinion.

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Milwaukee, Wisc.: If you owned the Chicago Bears what would you do?

Michael Wilbon: Fire the GM, Jerry Angelo. Fire the coaching staff. I'd promote Bobby DePaul to GM and get to work with a coach who can tutor Jay Cutler, which means an offensive coach, a QB tutor. I'd be in there trying to get Mike Shanahan to coach him. If not, then I'd see how seriously interested Bill Cower is in coaching the Bears and let him bring an offensive guru ... That's where I'd start. Pretty simple, huh?

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Washington, D.C.: Even though it must be tough to admit as a Cubs fan, isn't Albert Pujols the player of the decade in baseball and maybe all of sports? He's only won one championship but finished in the top 10 in MVP voting 9 years in a row, won 3 times and came in second three times. Since baseball isn't a sport where individuals can affect the game as much unless you're a pitcher, do you think he gets shortchanged in the athlete of the decade conversations?

Michael Wilbon: I don't think he gets shortchanged, but I do think he's the Baseball Player of the Decade ... No question. Who can touch him. Jeter's peak came in the late 1990s. Bonds' peak came in the early oughts and is legitimately questioned because of steroids. Who else is in the conversation? Alex Rodriguez, of course, is the guy who equals Pujols in power numbers, but has steroids hanging over his head, too. How about Mariano Rivera? He'd have to get some votes and definitely is the dominant pitcher. Yeah, it's got to Albert, no doubt.

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Re: Sports Media Explosion: The story should be about the drastic de-evolution in the quality of sports reporting. Yesterday, I counted four coaches and jocks on CBS and one actual analyst, who is great. But when trained journalists are outnumbered by jocks, you know there is a problem.

Same goes with Peter King's summer installments of Monday Morning Quarterback. You appreciate Peter King when the jox strt riting.

Michael Wilbon: Thanks for making that point and sticking up for reporting and good writing. Peter King, by the way, is must-read stuff during the NFL season.

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Vienna: Sports brothers. Come on--Dizzy and Paul Dean. Maybe tops the DiMaggios, though people forget how good Dommie was.

Michael Wilbon: Just forgot to write down their names. Kornheiser was sitting across the room screaming their names at me. Thanks for that.

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Brothers....: The Alomars

What about sisters? That's probably a less full list. The only one off the top of my head is Williams ...

Michael Wilbon: Yeah, Robby and Sandy Alomar...Good get. And Venus and Serena do top the list. How about a brother-and-sister list: Reggie and Cheryl Miller. Back to sisters: Sarah and Emily Hughes, the figure skaters. It's a must shorter list, obviously when you don't have football and baseball. I can't think of any in the WNBA, which is weird. Isn't that strange ... You'd think there would be more in tennis and golf but I'm not coming up with any of note ...

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Re: Media Explosion in Sports: This is to follow up on the comment about the media explosion in sports. What's your take about the unprecedented coverage? What good came out of it and what bad? This might be a broad enough topic for a column, but if you could sum it up here I think that'd be great. Thanks

Michael Wilbon: There's no perspective. Everything win and every loss are treated like the 7th game of the World Series, and that's just dumb. It's not the nature of most sports, only the NFL. Baseball, basketball, hockey are long seasons and i think the coverage affects the way front office people act, which is increasingly in a hasty fashion. That's my first reaction. Fewer thoughtful profiles are written; they're almost extinct ... On the other side, we know more and know it faster ... But I have to really sit and think this one over and revisit a very fair and smart question.

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Pittsburgh, Penn.: Can you explain the Tomlin on-side kick decision? I know the Steelers pulled it out at the end, but isn't this crazier than New England going for a 4th and 2 against the Colts?

Michael Wilbon: Not crazier but right up there. I thought immediately it was insane ... The Steelers got away with it but there was too much desperation in the move for my tastes.

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Washington, D.C.: I'm conflicted. I thought the Redskins should have used every single draft pick to get Offensive linemen. But man am I happy we have Orakpo. Yet, it still doesn't change the fact that we needed linemen. If I were able to go back in time and do that pick again for the Skins, what should i do?

Michael Wilbon: Take Arakpo with that pick ... but take offensive linemen with all the other picks ... In other words, keep the picks in the first place. Don't trade them away every single year.

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Houston, Texas: If you're taking updates, the Coniglieros - Tragic story, too.

Michael Wilbon: yes, Tony and Billy Conigliaro ... Gosh, Tony C. was a great ballplayer. Even after the beaning he came back and had a great season ro two ... I forgot, by the way, about the Ripkens, Cal and Billy ... and about Mike and Bob Golic.

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Reston, Va.: Are the Vikings swooning? I can see those pundits who bad mouth Favre - then went quiet all season - are now speaking up again saying I told you so. What's your take?

Michael Wilbon: I never thought the Vikings were as good as their one-loss record and I got this one -- for now -- right. They didn't beat anybody...Favre has a had a great season ... But the Vikes won 10 games last year. they got Favre to get to the Super Bowl ... anything less is a disappointing season.

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San Diego: How about John and Patrick McEnroe? Also those brothers that play Davis Cup Doubles

Michael Wilbon: How dare I forget John and Patrick, who I once wrote about when they played each other in the Finals of an event in Chicago some years ago ...

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Brooklyn, N.Y.: You've lived in DC long enough to know that they ALWAYS freak out over any amount of snow and that they will NEVER be convinced it will happen again so they don't bother being adequately prepared. Unless you run for mayor.

Michael Wilbon: Yep, you're right. You're right. You're right. And I should never expect any better. People from the D.C. area live under serious delusions. I've LOVED living here for nearly 30 years and have done so volunatarily; It's a wonderful place to live. But the natives seem to think it's Utopia and act accordingly, like acknowledging they have to deal with snow makes them weak. of course, it's just the oppoisite. Their inability to deal with it makes them weak ... and pretty stupid, too.

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Washington, D.C.: The problem with sports journalism isn't that journalists are being replaced with coaches and players, it's that producers and executives seem to think that volume is an acceptable substitute for quality. There are plenty of smart and thoughtful ex-coaches and players out there who would make excellent television, but instead we're stuck with Boomer and Howie Long and Keyshawn Johnson.

Michael Wilbon: Okay, I agree with the firts 2/3 of your premise. But let's not throw Howie and Boomer under the bus. I think they're terrific at what they do. Granted, they're both my friends ... Boomer for 27 years. Keyshawn is newer to this -- what, three years--and there's no reason to rip him. You can have former players analyzing, but you can also have people who care about the art of telling a great story. There should be room for both. Your observation about producers and executives is RIGHT ON THE MONEY.

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Olney, Md.: If you're Ernie Grunfeld, what's your next move? Is it time to consider breaking up the trio of Butler, Jamison and Arenas to which you've been steadfastly committed for so long now ... and if so, who goes and who stays? Or can you trade away some of your depth, like Nick Young, Blatche, McGuire, Foye, etc. and get back one player who can fix things? Or do you stay put and ride this thing out?

Michael Wilbon: If you're still close to the 7 or 8 playoff spot in January, you look at the second option, trading some depth for a quality player ... But time is just about to run out on this whole operation. I don't see the new owner, especially if it's Ted Leonsis, going in this direction. I HAVE NOT talked to Ted about this; I'm speculating. I just don't envision it. If I'm wrong, I'll apologize. But this particular plan has the rest of this season to work, then ... KABOOM!

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Anonymous: "Take Arakpo with that pick ... but take offensive linemen with all the other picks ..."

So do you believe in the take-the-best available player philosophy, regardless of the need?

Michael Wilbon: Sometimes. If there's a game-changer sitting there -- and I thought this kid qualified as that -- take him. You can find very good linemen up and down the draft. Just look at the teams with good to great offensive lines. They're not all comprised of first-round picks. Their are middle rounders, late rounders, free agents...You can find them if you scout well.

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Brothers: Henry and Tommie Aaron. Joe and Phil Niekro. George and Ken Brett. Bob and Ken Forsch. Aaron and Bret Boone (third generation, at that).

Michael Wilbon: Thanks for that ...

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Spring Grove, Penn.: If Shanahan is the new coach, and if Jason Campbell returns to the Redskins, how much will be new in the "new" offense that Jason will have to learn? Is there a great deal of difference between the Zorn and Shanahan versions of the West Coast offense? I can't believe how one quarterback can be so jinxed that he has to learn a new system every other year!

Michael Wilbon: Here's the difference: Shanahan has done this at the professional level for years. Zorn has not ...

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Best of Lists: Mike -

Why do people take these things so seriously? You're right. They're just opinion. Take them for what they are - fun. Take any such list. Top story of the decade, greatest guitar player of all-time, most influential person of the decade, etc. Just loon at the list, and discuss, debate. Enjoy. End of story.

These lists are just like the latest "betting" line. For entertainment purposes only! ;-)

Michael Wilbon: Ha. Thanks for that.

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Washington, D.C.: Snyder gets no benefit of the doubt, I agree. But Shanahan and Allen have fairly impressive backgrounds in the NFL. Shouldn't they get a chance to succeed before we predict a failing future for them as well?

Michael Wilbon: Yes ... I'm not predicting failure...just that I need to see the proof before I run out and talk about how great the Allen-Shanny era is going to be.

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Kabul again: I agree and hate the phrase Anyone-nation but that's what I've seen repeatedly in blogs including on the Washington Post and heard when I've been able to pick up local Redskins related shows.

Thanks for your response and drive safe in the snow.

Michael Wilbon: Oh, you're right, no question. If I was an editor at The Post I'd ban any reference to "Nation." Seems the Raiders were the first to use that routinely and everybody else copied.

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Anonymous: Ugh, so we kinda have to thank Vinny for Orakpo? Do we have to?

Michael Wilbon: Yes, you do.

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Washington, D.C.: Is Arenas going to end up being "Iversoned"? Meaning that he's a guy who can score you 30 points-per-game, and still nobody - really - wants him? He's an amazing talent, but with his near total inability to run a team, I doubt you could trade him for a bag of marbles right now.

Michael Wilbon: Strong but entirely fair observation ... But I think you can trade anybody. Remember when people said Michael Jordan couldn't trade Juwan Howard and his $125 million contract? Well, he did. That's how Ernie Grenfeld was able to sign Gilbert Arenas...That's how the club had the money ... So, when people say MJ did nothing as an exec, remember that he created the cap room to sign Gil by trading a player we all thought you woulnd't be able to trade for a bag of marbles. By the way, Juwan Howard, who I admire tremendously as a man, is still playing ... in Portland. His career lasted longer than Chris Weber's and Jalen Rose's ...

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Plano, Texas: I am more than impressed that you knew off the top of your head Sarah and Emily Hughes. My wife is a former figure skater who trained with Janet Lynn (spelling?) for a while and I would have not gotten it.

Michael Wilbon: I've met and had dinner with the Hughes sisters...at some Olympic venue. Want to say right across from the Acropolis in Athens. And Janet Lynn ... now there's a name. When I was a kid, maybe 13, I was skating at this place and Janet Lynn was there practicing. She was, oh, 17 or 18 and going to be in the Olympics. I rooted like crazy for her because she was from Illinois, as I am. She was adorable ... did she win Bronze that year ... I always wondered what happened to Janet Lynn ... must be what, 54, 55 years old by now. Wow, you took me back down Memory Lane with that one ...

Okay, gotta run and prepare for PTI ... talk to you guys tomorrow after the Redskins beat the Giants in MNF ...

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Harrisburg, Penn.: Sports siblings: The Molina brothers ... and they're ALL catchers.

Michael Wilbon: thanks

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Games of the week?: How can you not include the Steeler's winning on a touchdown pass as time expired? (In a game that did have playoff implications in both the NFC and AFC.)

Michael Wilbon: Because the deadline came before that game ended! I'll update it ont he web in an hour ... thanks for letting me explain that ...

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