The Chat House with Michael Wilbon: Saints Vikings, Super Bowl, Redskins future, Wizards and more

Michael Wilbon
Washington Post Sports Columnist
Monday, January 25, 2010; 1:15 PM

Welcome to another edition of The Chat House, where Post columnist Michael Wilbon was online Jan. 25 to discuss the Saints Vikings NFC Championship game, the Super Bowl, the Redskins' future, 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


Reston, Va.: So much for the Saints never winning another game this season!

Do you think that the Saints defense will be able to keep Manning in check, giving them the win in the Super Bowl?

Michael Wilbon: Hi everybody. Good to be with you, though it's no fun leaving 78 degrees in the tropics ... However, I did bring back some nice weather to Washington, didn't I? Anyway, I'm so, so incredibly happy for the Saints. That city and that fanbase has suffered so long, and supported that team so passionately and unconditionally. Nobody deserves this as much as the people of Louisiana, especially in this post-Katrina time. In terms of football, we're looking at a shootout in the Super Bowl ... The Colts have a better chance ot stopping Brees than the Saints do of stopping Manning. But I don't know. The Colts have to be favored, right?


Gaithersburg, Md.: Not that the NFL Pro Bowl was ever great to begin with (in my opinion, it is the worst game of the four major all-star games). But with so many guys not playing either because of injury or their team made the Super Bowl, it seems to have lost its luster as to who actually makes the team. It will be interesting to see the TV rating, but I guess it was worth a shot to see if it could be improved by moving it before the Super Bowl.

Michael Wilbon: There is no luster. It's a dud. That's why they're trying to re-make the Pro Bowl by putting it the week before the Super Bowl and in the same city, yes. And still, nobody's going to care. The MLB All-Star game is the best of the genre, and it ain't what it was 30, 40, 50 years ago before you could see every game, every team from April to October. NBA All-Star weekend is the biggest party but the game itself is usually nothing memorable. But the Pro Bowl? Please. I wouldn't even go to that if I was in Miami on Sunday afternoon with nothing to do.


Mt. Airy, Md.: Mr. Wilbon -

Have you had the opportunity to catch any NCAA basketball this season? I'm curious on your opionion of "parity" - especially in the ACC this season. It seems that UNC and Duke can be very vulnerable and beaten soundly. That being said - how did N.C. State defeat Duke as they did on Wednesday and then get soundly defeated by the Terps on Saturday?

Michael Wilbon: I haven't seen any college basketball in person yet, though I am going to see Georgetown-Duke on Saturday here in D.C. I've watched some games on TV but I need to see games in person before I can really try to assess what you're asking about. Thing is, the pro football season is so long now, stretching into February, that the college basketball season gets pinched. But there certainly is no super team, not fro what I've seen. There's nobody out there who you would fear playing, just a bunch of good teams. Maybe somebody will emerge, like Kentucky. But I've got to see some games, and it has become so difficult with the sports schedule the way it is now.


S. Williams' fine vs. Others: Hello - There was some controversy over remarks Serena Williams made at the start of the Australian Open about her fine from her outburst at the U.S. Open and how she was fined much more than her male counterparts are in similar situations. I was curious if you agree or disagree on that point and whether or not you believed she should have been suspended at all. Thanks!

Michael Wilbon: I've never seen a tennis player threaten a linesperson with bodily harm like that before. Maybe John McEnroe did it, but we're not talking about cursing somebody out. "I'll shove the bleepin' ball down your throat" while waving a racket at a woman is a threat. And she was fined accordingly. So, I have no patience for the "Serena was wronged" case. None. Zero. It infuriates me. Don't threaten people you won't get fined. She could have cursed her out ... okay, fine. That happens in EVERY sport. All sports. Umpires and judges and refs get cussed. Who cares? But a threat? While pointing a racket at her head? Are you kidding me?


Washington, D.C.: Michael,

I know you probably haven't started following college basketball yet this season, but does 30,000+ in the Carrier Dome for No. 7 Georgetown visiting No. 4 Syracuse on Big Monday in the middle of January bring back fond memories?

Michael Wilbon: Oh yes! I was in The Dome for Georgetown-Syracuse games in the mid-80s that provided some of the greatest professional thrills of my life. One, in particular, resonates. The Hoyas had just lost here in Capital Centre to St. John's on a Saturday afternoon to end their perfect season in 1985, and Monday went to Syracuse to defend an even more impressive record: 31 straight wins on the road. Pearl Washington, one of my 10 favorite college basketball players ever, hit a rainbow jumper to beat Georgetown in another thriller that emptied the stands onto the court. Rich (HOYAS WIN!) Chvotkin was knocked over onto the floor by the tidal wave of people, and was still talking while being trampled. Thankfully, Rich wasn't hurt. My goodness, I remember everything about that night, how exciting it was, how big a deal it was that a Monday night game (Big Monday!) was on national TV ... Good stuff. I'll be watching, tonight, too.


Los Angeles: Michael, Big win for Northwestern on Saturday! What Big Ten record do you think NU needs for their first ever NCAA berth? 10-8? Please keep working on Lunardi!

Michael Wilbon: Thank you! If we go 8-10 I think we'll get in ... 9-9 for certain. We need to beat one team nobody thinks we'll beat. Just one. But I'm hopeful, more so than at any time in my 33-year affiliation with Northwestern.


Lakeland, Florida: How about this for an idea to replace the NFL Pro Bowl with something a lot more interesting? Have the NFL team with the worst record play a team of college all-stars and if the pro team loses, they pick second in the draft instead of first. Okay?

Michael Wilbon: No, you can't try to embarass anybody ... Can't do it. Can't make a mockery of it.


Boston: Mike, I ask this question knowing that Northwestern Basketball is showing signs of life, but I was wondering if you had any thoughts on why the program is so historically miserable. It can't be the "high academic standards" answer, given how Duke, Stanford, and Georgetown can always field decent teams. Northwestern has the added benefit of being located in a city that produces a ton of high school talent. What do you think has been the reason for the futility?

Michael Wilbon: Great and fair question. My answer is because we (the school) weren't committed to it. We are now. It's that simple. Nortwestern committed to being good in football and got there. It takes the same thing in basketball, but it's harder because there are so many teams in the midwest that play basketball (like Butler and Marquette and Evansville, etc.) that play big-time basketball and recruit Chicago ... So, much harder in basketball than in football where the Big Ten lords over everything else in the region. I think the school is committed in a way we haven't been and it's showing.


Texas: Do you agree with Jerry West and Charles Barkely who both think the NBA would be better with contraction of some teams?

Michael Wilbon: Oh goodness, yes. There are 30 NBA teams now and the product would be so much better off with 24 teams. No team in New Jersey, no team in Charlotte, one team in Florida (I think Orlando because Miami doesn't care all that much, as evidenced by the empty seats), one team in Los Angeles (the Lakers, of course), no Memphis, maybe no Sacramento unless they move to Las Vegas. Yes, attendance is my No. 1 criteria. And I've always LOVED Sacramento as a market, and with a new arena perhaps things would be different. But California isn't in the business of building areas with public funds. Atlanta has had such disinterest for so long, I'm tempted to say Atlanta, but this team has changed things there. Attendance is very solid ... But yes, the product would be better; there's no doubt about that. The season should be 60 games and the first round of the playoffs should be best-three-of-five ... Maybe the first two rounds. That's my "If I Was Commissioner of the NBA" term paper, in short. And of course it's a fantasy, a bar room argument. Professional sports leagues don't shorten anything ever. Ever. Look at the NFL, about to lengthen its season even though every player in the history of the league would tell you 18 games is too many.


Richmond, Va.: I generally read this chat every Monday, and then subsequently watch you on PTI. I tend to notice a certain continuity between this chat and what you talk about on the show. It could be a phrase like "celebrity football" or referring to the NCAA as "The Cartel," or it could be some larger idea or issue. So I was wondering, do you get ideas for the show by doing this chat? Or do you decide which questions to answer here based on what you and Tony are planning to discuss? Just wondering. Keep up the good work!

Michael Wilbon: Good question. My philsophies don't change from chat to show to column, so you'll see/hear/read the same ideas and arguments, just in slightly different forms ... But yes, absolutely, ideas and questions from one forum contribute to the others. No doubt about that. And that's why you have to interact, to find out both what people care about and what they think about those specific issues. All these discussions spark thought, and that's the primary ingredient for any column or piece...


Iowa: I agree about not making the Pro Bowl a mockery, but might a futures game format work? Take the best first and second-year players and give them a chance to shine. A few would already be well-known, but there are others who might emerge as national names who would otherwise remain anonymous.

Michael Wilbon: I like the attempt at creativity here, I really do. But you know what? There's enough football. Seriously. There's enough already. We need it to just go away with the Super Bowl ... And then, no mini-camps, no OTAs ... Super Bowl and then a vacation from football. It shouldn't share the stage with anything else.


Arlington, Va.: My husband is a Minnesota boy, big Vikings/Twins fan. I'm a Bears/Cubs fan. His summary of last night's game: "this is what it's like to be a Vikings fan." Who gets a championship first - Vikings or Cubs?

Michael Wilbon: I fear the answer is the Vikings. I want the answer to be the Cubs ... but what would make me think that with any certainty or hope? The last 101 years? The Vikings have been to the Super Bowl four times since the Cubs have been to the World Series.


Boston: re: much harder for Northwestern to field good basketball team than football.

Really? I would think basketball is easier - it's a much smaller team. Don't you need just one really good player to turn things around?

Michael Wilbon: Basketball, in general, HAS to be easier because one player ... more to the point one coach ... can turn it around. But just look at us. Anybody else got different ideas on why.


"[E]very player in the history of the league would tell you 18 games is too many. ": Not trying to be argumentative here, but I know the CFL plays an 18-game season, as did the USFL, and the WFL played 20. I suppose one could argue, with some justification, that the level of play in the NFL is different from those leagues, and in the case of the CFL it's a vastly different game as well due to the different rules, but if other pro football leagues can manage it without encountering a player apocalypse, surely the NFL can.

Michael Wilbon: The NFL collisions are so much more violent, and they're generated by the biggest, fastest, strongest players in the world. I've spent time talking to many players ... and while I should never say EVERY player in the NFL thinks 18 is too many, I would think most will find 18 absurd.


Russ Grim: Do you think Dan Steinberg's story about Russ Grimm eating a "recycled" hot dog will help get him into the HOF this week? D.C. Sports Bog: The best Joe Bugel story ever (Washington Post, Jan. 13)

Michael Wilbon: Wasn't here, haven't seen Dan's story yet. But Russ Grim OUGHT TO BE IN THE HALL OF FAME ... period.


Alexandria, Va.: I know that you think that refs have "legislated defense" out of football (I tend to agree), but I just watched the Real Sports with the special on concussions, etc. I love football, but that evidence in the report on the brain studies was VERY SOBERING. Your thoughts on how to address the problem without cheapening a good hit?

Michael Wilbon: My thoughts are the same as yours. I've seen and heard these new reports and "sobering" is a perfect word. There's no arguing with these reports, no dismissing them. You'd be a fool. These findings and revelations are why I believe I'm going to ban my son, now only 22 months old, from playing organized football ...


Fairfax, Va.: Interesting idea about such a huge NBA contraction. I tend to agree, but I wonder: Do you think the number of players to vote for such an idea would be under ten or under five?

Michael Wilbon: The number should be zero.


Gaithersburg, Md: Mike, do you think that the Penguins-Capitals rivalry has a chance to turn into and all-time great rivalry? Every game between these two teams has a game 7 feeling and the core players of both teams are very young and talented. I think that it's great for the sport, fans, and players. Thanks.

Michael Wilbon: To have all-time great rivalries you have to have franchises go at it for at least 20 years and with different players. Penguins-Caps is already a rivalry, but to be all-time great it has to go generations of players. Like Ohio State vs. Michigan or Cowboys-Redskins or Duke-North Carolina in hoops. It takes time. There's no projecting. A lot of things have to happen that we can't predict.


Syracuse Alum: Speaking of Syracuse, can we take a short moment to appreciate the greatness of Jim Boeheim? The guy never gets put into the category of Dean, Coach K, Roy Williams, etc. but darn if he isn't one of the best ever. Year after year he puts a killer team out there, and gets real talent to commit to playing in the coldest, most depressing city I have ever endured.

Michael Wilbon: I'm a big-time Jim Boeheim fan. I covered the Big East for many years and appreciated him 20-plus years ago ... He's a terrific coach, terrific. He's done it for a ton of time in a place that's difficult to recruit (one would think). I think even though he's won a national championship and even though he's been to the Final Four multiple times he's still an underrated coach ... and one of the best these last 30 years in college basketball.


New York, N.Y.: Do you like having the Super Bowl two weeks after the championship games better than one week?

Michael Wilbon: One week. I like one week. Two weeks changes the personality of the game, which is one of the reasons I think there have been so many blowouts in Super Bowls ... though that has changed lately. Okay, gotta run. I thought we might get into what I did this weekend that replaced covering football, but nobody asked. Maybe nobody knows. Hmmm. Maybe this will be a topic for next Monday if people find out what I did. Didn't go to New Orleans ... Didn't go to Indy. Maybe people know and could care less (which would be good) ... Anyway, we'll do ZERO pro football next week unless there's real news. And we'll have more time for basketball, college basketball, maybe a look ahead at the Olympics ... Hope everybody has a great week ... Take care ... MW


Minneapolis, Minn.: Do you see Favre or Warner coming back in 2010?

Michael Wilbon: Favre yes, Warner no.


On the Non-Football Front: A woman (Kelly Kulick) won the men's PBA Tournament of Champions!

Michael Wilbon: Big Ups to Kelly. I love this story. I'm sure there's video and I want to see it ...


Washington, D.C.: Step One - Jamison to Cavs for Z (immediately bought out) and 2011 No. 1 pick (on the off chance that LeBron leaves and it becomes lottery).

Step Two - Arenas to New York Knicks for Curry, Jeffries, and Gallinari.

Step Three - Butler to Portland for Outlaw, Blake, and 2010 No. 1 pick (on the chance injured Blazers miss playoffs).

So you're total garbage, but have Gallo, Wiz 2010 top pick (star hopefully), Blazers 2010 pick (role player), minor 2010 free agent (Gay, for ex), Wiz 2011 top pick (star hopefully), Cavs 2011 top pick if lucky, and more cap room in 2011 with Curry/Jeffries for free agency.

That's seven useful players plus whatever spare parts you can acquire for a chance to compete in 2012. Hey, it beats where we are now, right?

Michael Wilbon: Anybody who could think this out needs to get some recognition, so here it is! You lost me somewhere, but okay, if you insist.


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