The Chat House with Michael Wilbon: Donovan McNabb, Redskins, Tiger Woods, NCAA Final Four and more

At Augusta National, Tiger Woods held a news conference to answer questions about his return to golf, the sex scandal that has followed him since he crashed his car at his Florida home and rumors of illegal drug use.
Michael Wilbon
Washington Post Sports Columnist
Tuesday, April 6, 2010; 1:30 PM

Welcome to another edition of The Chat House, where Post columnist Michael Wilbon was online Tuesday, April 6 to discuss the Redskins' trade for quarterback Donovan McNabb, Tiger Woods's Masters return, the NCAA Final Four and championship game, 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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Still shocked: With apologies for the out-of-season football question (I hope you're excusing them today), Phil Sheridan at the Philadelphia Inquirer wrote today that "-the Redskins' actions] are the actions of a front office looking to change the character of a team, and McNabb is the perfect fit for that task. He has been where these players want to go." It sees like McNabb can and will immediately become the leader of this team. And make Washington an attractive place to play again in the process. You know him well, your thoughts?

Michael Wilbon: Hi Everybody ... You know I'm ordinarily loathe to begin a chat the day after the national championship game with a Redskins issue, but this is no ordinary Redskins issue and I am 100 percent certain that 10 x more people in our readership are interested in the Donovan McNabb trade than the outcome of Duke-Butler last night, which I promise you we'll get to pretty quickly ... Anyway, I agree to a degree with Phil Sheridan. Mike Shanahan wants an authoritative QB who is the team leader and that's what you're trying to get when you trade for McNabb, who at 33 is old enough to have established himself, yet have something left in the tank. I don't want to overstate this though, even though I'm a big fan of McNabb and have made no secret of that over the years when talking about him in this chat or in my column. You have goals when you trade for a franchise-changing player but it doesn't mean they're easy to achieve or will be. What the Redskins do have is a coach-QB combination which says they're a legit force to be dealt with. Of course, only on-field results make that so but going forward the team has two people in the most important positions in the game who have proven they know what the hell they're doing. You have to start in the NFL with head coach and QB, period.


Affairs: Mike,

Were you aware of Tiger's affairs before the news broke?

Michael Wilbon: You clearly need to make yourself aware of my position on what is my business and what isn't ... and for that matter what is yours and what isn't. I'm aware of a lot of affairs a whole lot of people have. And so what? Why would Tiger's affairs, if I knew, be of more consequence than anybody else's affairs?


Best for everyone: Philly fan here again. Need to add something. This would be TOTALLY different if McNabb had been traded to the Cowboys or even the Giants. Redkins might be our rivals but we don't HATE them.

Michael Wilbon: okay.


Bowie, Md.: Mike: The last time we had acquisitions -- trades -- with Philidelphia, to this magnitude was with the Sonny Jerguson, trade,in the 60's and it work out well. What if just for a moment these trade's don't work with Donovan, and the two backs Johnson, Parker from Pittsburgh, would this be the same down effects we had with Dione Sanders, Bruce Smith and the other players we got back in the late 90's? I don't know if it's fair to put Donovan in the same category because he's got the second best passing percentage in the league, and he has been doing great with his QB game for years, practically for his entire career! Would these guys be a bust if it doesn't work out! And what will we say about Donovan? Personally I think this is great! I hope it works.

Michael Wilbon: I hope it works for Donovan because of personal reasons I've written about or refered to a million times ... But if it doesn't work, yeah, it would be pretty much the same as the Bruce Smith/Deion signings that didn't work. Personally, I don't get the Johnson and Parker signings at all. But I think Mike Shanahan has earned a benefit of the doubt in these areas that extends to the regular season until we can see some results.


Herndon, Va.: Mr. Mike: When I first saw the news about McNabb flash on the TV, I thought it was an April Fool story, just like when Tony K and Dan on PTI were talking about Tiger wanting to be called "Eldrick" from now on. That said, isn't this a good short-term move for the Skins? I assume they didn't want any quarterback except Bradford, so this actually may work. Any chance Haynesworth can learn to play quarterback?

Michael Wilbon: It seems like a good short-term move to me. But I've felt that before about Redskins moves that wound up not working, so I don't want to go declaring anything. Until they actually win a playoff game or two the Redskins are still just champs of the off-season, regardless of who it is calling the shots.


Chantilly, Virginia: While many Redskin fans are worried about McNabb's age, they should keep in mind that Shanahan took over the Broncos when Elway was one year older than McNabb and we all know how that ended. Do you think the Shanahan/McNabb duo could work the same magic with the Redskins as Shanahan/Elway did with the Broncos?

Michael Wilbon: Hold your horses there, Big Fella. Nobody likes Donovan more than I do, but John Elway (for my money) is the Greatest QB in the History of the NFL. Of all-time. Forever and ever. So, I don't have those expectations. Elway was in three Super Bowls before Shanahan showed up in Denver. Elway led teams to the Super Bowl that had essentially NOBODY you would remember. Of course, that's always the goal and I like your note about McNabb's age relative to Elway's ... and it's worth pointing out they both had some injuries along the way ... But I'm not drawing that comparison. No way.


Best for everyone: Philly fan here. I know we have a bad reputation and, for the most part, deserve it. But I know a lot of Eagles fans, myself included, who loved what Donovan did for us and also recognized that now was probably the best time for him to go, for all parties. I wish he hadn't gone to a divisional rival just so I don't have to root against him at least twice this season, but I'm glad we're not just letting him wither on the vine. Good for him. I truly wish him well. I felt the same way when Iverson left the Sixers. He did so much for us but it reached a point where we couldn't do any more for each other. No bad blood here.

Michael Wilbon: Thank you for that. Two of my closest friends are Philly natives who pointed out the same thing to me the other night. Very smart, very well said. And I think there's a big percentage of people who call themselves Eagles fans who probably feel similarly to the way you do. Thanks.


Lowden, Iowa: Mr. Wilbon. Is it true that the main reason the NCAA tournament will expand to 96 teams is so Northwestern can get into the tournament? Seriously, do we need an expanded tournament if it only means the 11th place Big East team and the 9th place Big Ten team get into the tournament? If the expansion would mean the Missouri Valley Conference and other mid-majors could get a second team into the tournament, I could live with the expansion. But if it is only a vehicle to allow the power conferences to get more teams, and thus more money, into the tournament, I would say just forget it.

Michael Wilbon: You want to get on my bad side, dude? Seriously, it's a bad idea, period. I've discussed it do death so I'm not going on a rant here. But we just watched a great, great three weekends of tournament play, one which produced not only great basketball but drama and entertainment. It was close to the perfect tournament. And the NCAA's response it to change it, mess with it ... while telling us (as if we're idiots) that college football doesn't need a playoff? By now anybody who knows my work knows I have no respect for the people who put their influence behind that decision.


Fairfax, Va.: Wilbon, I'm just curious. I saw you at the Caps vs. Pens game at the Phone Booth. You left with almost five minutes left in the game. Is that something you typically do and why? Thanks.

Michael Wilbon: I went to the press room with 5 minutes left. I didn't leave the building. See, that's how stuff gets started, people presuming stuff and just throwing it out there. Glad you asked so I could clear it up. By the way, I wasn't officially working that night ... just wanted to see the game. At Wizards games I watch the entire 4th quarter, usually, from the press room because I'm writing or preparing to write or going over notes ... at Wizards games it's necessary because a basketball arena is an all too social place where people want to chat and engage but I'm on deadline, and increasingly people don't know that people like me are at games (usually) to work and not schmooz. So, in the final minutes of Caps and Wizards games I'll wait until a timeout (or end of quarter with NBA games) and sneak to the press room.


Ashburn, Va.: So now what happens to Colt Brennan, the over 40 NCAA passing record QB? McNabb has already taken his No. 5 jersey ...

Michael Wilbon: He wasn't getting on the field for the Redskins anyway, barring a catastrophe. So, he could be the No. 3 guy, behind McNabb and Grossman, right? You don't expect Jason Campbell to still be here come September, do you? I don't.


Bethesda, Md.: Mike, What did you think of the officiating in last night's NCAA Championship? In my opinion it was entirely too rough! Throughout the game Clark Kellogg was complementing the officiating as if they were doing a stellar job. I don't know what game he was watching but the one I saw the officials let it get completely out of control. Yeah it made for an "exciting" game (since Butler could have never stayed close if it was officiated correctly) but come on, this isn't the NBA. Zoubek was constantly getting mauled underneath, just because he's a bigger guy he shouldn't have to take that kind of punishment. What are your thoughts?

Michael Wilbon: Stop making Duke excuses. Seriously, it sounds like you know nothing about the game. The officials let stuff go; good. They get too involved anyway at the college level, especially calling all those charges when some kid plants himself two feet from the rim ... That's not defense. It's rewarding, actually, the inability to play defense. It's rewarding a trick. No Duke player got mauled who wasn't doing some mauling himself. It was pretty even, it seemed to me ...


Romeoville, Ill.: Cubs fan here. Only one game, and I'm ready to cry. I know it's part of our birthright, but it'sjust so sad! And I worry my three-year old twins will face the same level of frustration as I did.

On the plus side, I do realize that a bad day at the ballpark is better than a good day at work. But 100+ years is enough!

Michael Wilbon: You think 100 years is enough? How about 120. I've been worried in recent years that my mom, now 84 years old, will go her entire life and not see the Cubs win. After Zambrano looked like dreck yesterday I started to worry that I, at 51, will not long enough to see the Cubs win either.


Donovan McNabb: As much as I want this to work out, I can't believe the Eagles would trade him within their division if they thought he had anything left.

And the Redskins had better shore up their offensive line, or he is going to be dead by October.

Michael Wilbon: Now, I agree with you totally there, on that point about the OL. They'd better come up with a big upgrade there are QB aint' gonna matter.


Annapolis, Md.: OK, so Tiger Woods personal life has no bearing on his status ss a professional athlete.

What's the difference between feeling sorry for, and rooting for, the Canadian Olympic skater who lost her mother, and feeling anger at, and rooting against, Tiger Woods for being such a knucklehead?

Michael Wilbon: You can do that if you want. Who said you couldn't?


Washington, D.C.: Mike, reports are that the Redskins did not even contact Jason Campbell before the McNabb trade was announced. What a bunch of classless losers. While I don't see JC as the second coming of Joe Montana, I hope he's much better treated and gets a true chance with his next team, whatever team that might be.

Michael Wilbon: I've been writing and saying that to Jason for two years. He can be more productive and happier elsewhere and I root for that for him.


Tampa, Fla.: Mike, I can't begin to tell you how discouraging the beginning of the new regime has been so far. I know McNabb is an upgrade, and there is no doubt about that. But, isn't he just a Band-Aid on a large wound? Doesn't he remind you of the Jason Taylor situation? When are the Redskins going to stop mortgaging away their future? When are the Redskins going to get a real GM? Shannahan has a decent draft pick history, but his free agent decisions have been horrible. Does anyone here remember all the older bums he signed to big contracts in Denver? Most notably, the entire Cleveland Browns defensive line? This is like groundhog day for Redskin fans. Nothing has changed.

Michael Wilbon: This is a smart point and a fair point and one that we'll have to revist, win or lose, by the end of the 2010 season. Thank you.


New Orleans: And the soap opera drama that is the Redskins continues ...

Initially I was in favor of the trade: McNabb for a 2nd round pick and a 4th next year, sure I'll take that. But one always goes to the most important question, how do you build a successful franchise? As you stated in yesterdays column, "but these days the smart teams play to win now". But hasn't this moto hurt the Redskins over the past decade?

And it is hard to over look the most intelligent sports guy in DC right now, Ted Leonsis, and his philosophy: "And if you look at the NBA, if you look at the NFL, most teams that win championships or are at the cusp of winning a championship -- and have longevity of excellence -- are built around the draft."


Michael Wilbon: I agree generall with your point and the previous comment. There are some exceptions. The Boston Celtics two years ago come to mind. They made those deals and won right away, a championship. But I think consistent winning is built around smart drafting, as the Redskins over the last 10 years have had spotty drafting. Even the Yankees, with all their free agent spending, were built on the pillars of smart drafting, or players acquired at a very young age and developed. Did you see that stat that Jeter/Posada/Rivera are the first trio to have played together in ANY SPORT for 16 years. How about that? The other thing that strikes me is that the Redskins don't develop anybody. Who's the last player they developed from rookie into an All-Pro? Samuels and Jansen? Hell, that's a decade ago. Champ Bailey? We're talking about a long time. You have to scout, draft wisely, and develop talent and the Redskins over the past 8-10 years have failed miserably in that department. The club failed LeVar Arrington, not the other way around.


DC: Jason Heyward ... African Americans in MLB ... story idea ...

Michael Wilbon: What, like this hasn't happened over the past 60 years?


Washington, DC: What are your thoughts on Oliver Purnell leaving Clemson for the DePaul job? DePaul might be a sleeping giant, but is it worth leaving a mid-tier ACC job for a program that is at the bottom of the Big East every year?

Michael Wilbon: Maybe it also has to do with lifestyle and perference for being in a certain kidn of community? I don't know; I haven't talked to Oliver since he made the decision. But you can't get any different than Clemson, S.C. and Chicago. Maybe he wants to live in Lincoln Park and walk to the gym and try to tap DePaul's past potential. I grew up on DePaul basketball, on Coach Ray Meyer and Dave Corzine, Dave Ponsetto, Clyde Bradshaw, Mark Aguirre, Terry Cummings ... I LOVED those teams ... I wish Oliver well.


Elway Question: Mike, I don't doubt that many feel that Elway is the best QB of all time. But I am too young to have seen him play and I just pulled up his stats after reading what you just wrote about him. His career completion percentage his only 56.9 and he has worse then a 3:2 TD:INT ratio. Please don't blast me, but what was so great about him? I really want to know. His stats are nothing compare to P. Manning's or Brady's. Yes, I know that it's a different era but Marino, Kelly, and Moon among others have higher QB ratings. Elway lifetime rating is 79.9. Jason Campbell's is 82.3! Please don't yell at me. I am not trying to say he is anywhere near what Elway was.

Michael Wilbon: See, this is what's wrong not only with sports, but with a younger generation of fan who's been brainwashed by numbers gurus ... and the kids aren't savvy enough to see beyond the changes in the game. What's so great about John Elway: He LED his teams to 5 Super Bowls. Tell me how many Super Bowls Peyton Manning has led his team to...I believe the answer is two. Is five more than two. Why do you care more about completing percentage than major wins? This is the AAU mentality we deal with now in basketball, that certain self-serving numbers are more important than winning. You want to ask me what's so great about Bill Russell when Chris Bosh averages about 8 more points per game and shoots a higher percentage? WINS, WINS, WINS, WINS. Look at the rings on his fingers. Terry Bradshaw has FOUR rings to Peyton Manning's one. Wht are stupid individual stats more important to you than WINNING THE SUPER BOWL. Sorry, I'm blasting you ... I tried not to. But you need to be blasted because you, like too many people in the current generation of people who follow sports (under 45) don't get what's important about sports: winning.


Washington, D.C.: The other thing that strikes me is that the Redskins don't develop anybody. Who's the last player they developed from rookie into an All-Pro? Samuels and Jansen? Hell, that's a decade ago. Champ Bailey? We're talking about a long time.

Well, Orakpo made the Pro Bowl, so there is something.

As a long time Redskins fan I, too, am a bit concerned that this ownership hasn't learned anything from the past. But then I'm thinking perhaps the NFL is not built for long term dynasties? Maybe a win now attitude is required due to the salary cap and shortness of players careers. Absent having a Manning/Brady at QB, what teams have been consistently excellent/championship contenders over a five-year period? Not many.

Michael Wilbon: Orakpo has played one year. Let's see. Was his first year any more impressive than LeVar Arrington's first year? I doubt it. You don't think the Pittsburgh Steelers do a great job of development talent? Look at the Tennessee Titans, who've remained competitive and sometimes contenders even with QB transition. Look at the Joe Gibbs Redskins, for crying out loud. What? How about the Baltimore Ravens who live 35 miles from you who are in the playoffs all the time with no superstar QB. Take off the blinders, Holmes, and look around.


Albuquerque, NM: Mr. Wilbon,

What is your opinion on the "rumors" that state that Albert Haynesworth was offered in the trade to acquire Donovan McNabb? They are just rumors, right?

Michael Wilbon: I'm not covering pro football day-to-day anymore like I used to, so I don't have an information to contradict the reports and rumors that I, like you, have been hearing. Would it surprise me? Not for one second. What would be more shocking, the Redskins trading Haynesworth or acquiring Donovan McNabb? Right, I thought so.


RE: "DC: Jason Heyward... African Americans in MLB... story idea...": I think what he means is that there are fewer black players today, and the trend is downward. If that's not what he means, I have no idea.

Michael Wilbon: There are fewer black baseball players because black youngsters have decidedly chosen basketball over everything else. Our culture has chosen basketball over everything else. We could spend an entire chat on this because the reasons are complex. But black kids today are seduced by basketball, by the glamour, by what appears to be instant riches, by trappings which some folks outside our culture wouldn't begin to understand. That's why. I don't want to hear for one second that MLB has somehow failed black youngsters. I KNOW the programs MLB has undertaken to attrack black kids. I know the resources, human and financial, that have been devoted to this. Those who know my work know I'm not hesitant in the least to rip MLB ... but for not having more black players? Sorry, our kids are interested by and large in basketball, then football, then a bunch of other things. It's not like the 1960s when I was coming along when baseball was king. I got into this business to be a baseball writer and was for awhile. Now I, like the kids I'm talking about, am neck-deep in basketball. That's fine. It's a choice. But nobody needs to be blamed. The story, if there is one, is about the choices we as a culture make.


Butler: You had Butler going out in the first round to UTEP. What did they show in the tournament that you had not expected?

Michael Wilbon: Don't look for greater meaning. I picked an upset. Just like I picked 11th seeded Washington to win its opener and got that right, I picked Butler to lose its opener and got that wrong. I could easily have gone the other way and wish I had, but I already knew Butler was damn good. I'd seen them play. But we could replay the tournament again and Butler could lose in the first round and Duke in the second. There's no great team in the NCAA this year, which is why that tournament was so exciting.


Arlington: What is it like for Tiger in the locker room? I believe he is among friends but some of them must be having a good laugh at his expense.

Michael Wilbon: Not when their pockets are lined with gold when he plays. It's called biting the hand that feeds you. Do you do that? Those players love Tiger Woods and should. Their lives are enriched, literally, by his presence. Are they busting his chops a little? I'm sure his good friends might just a little bit. But some hearty laugh at his expense? Doubt it seriously. Do they laugh at the homes they have, the tuition money for their kids and the vacations for the wives? Sure, you do that all the time, I'm sure.


What's so great abotu Elway: HEY! I'm under 45 and I know stats are BS. Elway was the greatest because when the game was on the line, he could win it by shear force of will. Montana could too, but he has a supporting cast that will be remembered, unlike Elway.

Michael Wilbon: Okay, under 40 ... still, the criticism sticks. There are handfuls of 25 year olds who know, but not enough.


Classic Duke: I love the Duke fan complaining about the officiating. Coach K complained after the game about the pick on Singler on the last play.

You. Won. Enjoy it--stop begging for calls.

Onto more important things--you and Mr. Tony have pretty divergent expectations of Tiger's golf this weekend. He thinks Tiger's winning, you've stated you think he could miss the cut. Any second thoughts? I'm thinking somewhere in the 11-20 range, I just can't imagine he'll be sharp enough to win.

Michael Wilbon: I don't see ANY CHANCE that Tiger Woods is going to win The Masters. Sports, at the championship level, is too hard. That's why we make such a big deal and idolize the winners and reward them with riches and their own little kingdoms ... BECAUSE IT'S HARD! I don't see Tiger walking in off the street with the new baggage he's carrying winning or even contending for The Masters. Don't see it. So, we'll see how this turns out come Monday when we're back for next week's chat. Okay, gotta run. The sun and 77 degrees here in Scottsdale are calling me to the golf course and I've got the rest of the week off because PTI is dark, because Tom Boswell is in Augusta, Ga., and because these are the last days off I'll have until the NBA Finals end in mid-June ... See you Monday everybody ... thanks. MW


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