The Chat House with Michael Wilbon

Michael Wilbon
Washington Post Sports Columnist
Monday, August 30, 2010; 1:15 PM

Welcome to another edition of The Chat House, where Post columnist Michael Wilbon was online Monday, Aug. 30 to discuss the NBA free agency destinations of LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh, the Wizards, the Redskins and all the latest sports news and his recent columns. 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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McLean, Va.: I hear now that McNabb might not play the first game against Dallas although I doubt he will miss the game.

I don't feel so bad if he misses it though, because Grossman is more than an adequate replacement and is probably a much more accurate passer.

Michael Wilbon: Hi Everybody! Welcome to, for sports purposes, the beginning of the fall! I'm just back from vacation and I'm sure a lot of you are, too. We'll start with (of course) the Washington Redskins and try to cover a little bit of everything in the next hour...The big story with the Redskins, finally, deals with something other than the drama of Albert Hanyesworth. Donovan McNabb--and I'll bet money out of my own pocket--will play in the opener against the Cowboys unless he somehow aggravates the injury between now and Sept. 12. NO WAY I see McNabb standing on the sideline for that game. no chance. None.


Crystal City, Va.: Hi Michael,

Hope you had a good summer break. So I know there is NFL preseason, and I know the baseball season is now getting real serious, and I know you like to talk about sports when they are "in season." However, I have to share that I am oddly transfixed by coverage of the basketball world championships. Maybe because the coverage here is so limited -- like sports used to be, instead of 24-hour notices of Albert Haynesworth's work-outs. I like these snippets of under-exposed young Americans playing well. Sign me up to buy a USA basketball jersey with Durant stitched on the back.

Michael Wilbon: Interesting observation. I was in Spain when Team USA was there, in Madrid, so I got a bigger eye full of the team where there was obviously more coverage...But I hear you; everything doesn't have to have saturation coverage. It's enough. I watch NBA TV to see some of the action live, or the highlights. And the NFL coverage is over-the-top all the time, to me, if we're talking about preseason. I know most people now don't feel that way. The ratings for the preseason games are incredibly high. I've watched snippets of four or five games so far, but I won't watch more than three or four plays at a time. Every story is exaggerated, or its importance overstated, starting with Brett Favre and will-he or won't-he...I'm excited about the season beginnning but wish we could just fast-forward to Sept. 9 and the Vikings-at Saints contest, then Sept. 12 for the first full Sunday. Still, I'm more excited about the U.S. Open which begins in a few minutes...or did a few minutes ago, baseball pennant races, and the world championships of basketball...and golf, actually...even with Tiger's limi5ted participation...


Palookaville, S.C.: Yo Mikey -- McNabb, Strasburg, Arenas, Portis: Has beens or never wasses?

Michael Wilbon: McNabb's been to five conference championship games and has the same Super Bowl status (one loss) as Dan Marino. I think he has a couple of really good seasons in him. I think the Redskins should win the NFC East this season. Hell, the Cowboys are (as always) dramatically overrated. The Eagles are unproven at the most important position on the field and the Giants crashed and burned last season. None of the four is great but the Redskins, to me, have the makings of a 10-win team...And McNabb is key to that, obviously. Strasburg's situation is so depressing. And people are trying to put a happy face on something that's very serious. I hope he makes it all the way back. Tommy John surgery is no longer the death sentence it was 20 years ago. He's got a shot...but to act as if this is no big deal is stupid. It is a big deal...for him, for the franchise, for MLB. Portis' best is behind him, no question. Running backs don't get better nine years in; they just don't. Walter Payton is one of the very few to have great seasons 10, 11 years in. Look it up. Portis may have a good season left in him, but those 1,500-yard seasons are history...


Fort Lauderdale, Fla.: How do you feel about the Ravens' chances to go all the way?

Michael Wilbon: I think the Ravens are the best team in the AFC. I think they're my pick to reach the Super Bowl...I like the Packers in the NFC along with the Saints...The AFC has the better teams. Colts, jets, Dolphins...I like the AFC East, and the AFC Central...the Bengals have no excuses...But the Ravens, if they can solidify at cornerback, can be really, really good.


Tiger: Michael,

As a non-golfer, how can such a great player like Tiger have very different scores one day apart? I understand how a hacker can do this but Tiger?

Thanks and welcome back. We have missed your chats.

Michael Wilbon: You're answer is int he question. As a non-golfer you don't understand. It's not just Tiger. Look at the results of a tournament, any tournament...EVERY golfer has swings that seem inexplicable. It's both the lure and curse of the game. There are no exempt players, none. Tiger, until now, has had fewer of those wild swings than anybody in the game's history, which is why he's missed just five cuts in the last 10 years (or something like that) while most guys, evenn majors champions, miss five a year.


McNabb's preparation time with the offense: After so long in the league, I imagine Donovan doesn't need any preseason games to be ready for the Cowboys. But doesn't the rest of the offense need to be used to him? How much can you simulate in walk-throughs? Thanks.

Michael Wilbon: We go through this every single year...somebody misses camp, people go crazy and start asking if the rest of the offense or defense is going to suffer, blah, blah, blah...then Michael Strahan or whomever it is (Emmitt Smith did it once) walks in off the street and carries the team to some spectacular victory. it's pre-season. Coaches get paid to obsess over it; don't you do it.


BrainDamaged, USA: Hi Mike,

Loved your recent piece on football and concussions. Just out of curiosity, would you allow your son Matthew to play rugby? I ask this because the sport is now an Olympic one.

Michael Wilbon: Thank you...I don't think Matthew is going to have enough exposure to rugby to crave playing it...I'm trying to figure out how to influence without being overbearing, except in the case of organized football which is banned, period. I have golf clubs strategically placed within his sight but out of reach...I'm hoping he'll want to play pretty much everything, which for me means baseball, basketball, tennis, golf, soccer...take some martial arts training as a kid...but no football. Hockey is something I'd like him to play; I played growing up...But ice time is so difficult to come by and it's usually so early in the morning...That's why I think (for selfish reasonns) hockey and swimming are at the bottom of dad's prefered list. Mr. Early Morning I am not...


D.C.: I find it amazing that the best hitter, Bonds, and the best pitcher, Clemens, of my era will both probably end up in jail for lying about PEDs. What's your take?

Michael Wilbon: I don't know how to feel about it, but thanks for bringing it up...They do seem to have similar outsized personalities. Clemens, who I've been around recently (at the golf course) is so charismatic, I can't even tell you. Bonds can be, when he wants...I've seen it in private social settings. It just speaks to a dark, dark time in major league baseball. I wonder if each will be treated more harshly over time, or if the criticism will soften...


Journalism Question: Hey Mike, what advice would you give a journalism student aspiring to be a national sports columnist like yourself? Thanks, and welcome back!

Michael Wilbon: Boy, the advice has changed over time...It used to be "go and become a reporter for the next 10 years." Now, I still think there is great value in being a reporter first, so you'll understand the sports and the people you're commenting on. There are way too many people out there spouting opinions without knowing the nature of locker rooms, or a road trip or a pennant race, or any of the elements that influence the direction a team takes or a season takes...I think writing as much as possible is the place to begin, for whoever will publish your work...I think becomine intimately familiar with as many subjects and people as possible is also important. All this now evolves over a much tighter period of time than it used to...But work at writing, at story telling, at expressing your opinion without being overbearing like so many columnists have become...But there are a whole lot more paths to take now than there used to be.


Chantilly, Va.: Hi Mike,

What's your take on the 18-game season the NFL owners are proposing? It is one of the dumbest ideas I have ever heard of. Could the NFL be getting to the point of oversaturation with this kind of idea?

Michael Wilbon: The 18-game season stinks...primarily because the human body doesn't need to play 18 football games. Look at the injuries sustained now, and how many teams, going into the post-season, are limping into it...michael Strahan once told me football players aren't getting enough time, what with mini-camp and OTAs and all this other junk, to let their bodies recuperate, which is one reason we're seeing so many more injuries than even 30 years ago when players got a full off-season away from physically doing anything...I understand why veteran players say to hell with training camp...An 18-game sesaon is an incredible money grab...More doesn't mean better. If the NFL has had the best product out there--and it has been for awhile--why screw around with it? If I ran the union, the NFL Players Association, I'd say absolutely not and fight it with every ounce of energy I had...


Des Plaines, Ill.: Michael - If Jay Cutler continues to struggle game after game....I know the Bears have invested heavily in him, but the patience level in this city and this league is not long. How long before they cut bait? Next season?.....this season?

Michael Wilbon: I have no faith Cutler is going to be any good. None. And by the way, to the person who said Rex Grossman is a more accurate passer than Donovan McNabb, you must not know anything about professional football or the QB position. Grossman is an interception machine. Always has been. I wish him well, but backup is what Grossman should be. Hey, he got to as many Super Bowls as McNabb...but the Bears that season were entirely about defense by the time they entered the playoffs. Grossman's job was to not lose the game. McNabb's job in Philly was to win the game...I presume the same is true here.


Washington, D.C.: Mike,

What are your thoughts on how high school and little league sports are getting more television exposure? I know the Little League World Series has been televised for some time, but this weekend I saw easily 5 or six high school football games (and a high school basketball game as well).

Michael Wilbon: Great question...I don't want to be an old man about this. historically, I don't like high school sports being on television. It contributes, I think, to a sense of entitlement and the event being bigger than it really is. I'd make exceptions of championship games and the like...I don't know...everything is on TV now and probably kids don't grow up attaching the same significance to it that I did (and still do)...


Arlington, Va.: Fun question: are the 1972 Dolphins behind the 18 game push? Going 21 NFL games unscathed -- impossible. Surely one of them is pushing Roger?

Michael Wilbon: Ha! Very good...Yeah, it'll never happen. Never.


Phoenix, Ariz.: Who do you think was the best pitcher of the last 30 years? Martinez? Maddux?

Michael Wilbon: Maddux. Sustained it longer. Had more peak seasons.


AFC Central: I think you meant the AFC North? (But at least I understood the reference...)

Michael Wilbon: Yes, AFC North. Ooops.


Speaking of sports columnists/personalities: What is your take on Jay Mariotti's recent run-in with the law?

Michael Wilbon: Jay is my friend of 20 years and I wish him the best...I don't have any idea if the chargers are baseless or legit. I do sense a certain joy over Jay's predicament...and I understand...because Jay built a very successful career on being incredibly judgemental. He reveled in being harsh and often crossed the line, in my opinion, between criticism and ridicule. It earned him a great following. But what we all had better know in this business is the role of celebrity critic may carry as much accountability as it does visibility. I am mindful of this every day...though some might say not enough.


Germantown, Md.: Welcome back! How much golf did you play while on vacation? What cool courses did you get to play?

Michael Wilbon: Lots of golf...though not a single round in Spain where I spent 12 days...two rounds at Torrey Pines...a round at Cog Hill in Chicago, perhaps a future site of a U.S. Open, The Glen Club in suburban Chicago, a round at Reunion Resort in Orlanndo (thanks Doc) I've played here at home in the D.C. area, Columbia Country Club and Four Streams...Okay, that's likely more than you wanted to know, but you asked. I've played out of my mind all summer, which is to say over my head...okay, enough about that!


Alexandria, Va.: Mike -- any thoughts on the winner of the Maryland/Navy and VT/Boise State games coming up this weekend?

Michael Wilbon: Boise State is my pick to win the whole thing, yes the BCS Championship...They're returning 20 of 22 starters including a QB who threw something like 31 TDs to 3 INTs last season. I'm terribly excited about the start of college football this week...


Washington, D.C.: Which NFL team is most likely to go from the basement to the penthouse this year?

Michael Wilbon: watch the Detroit Lions. I'm not saying they're going to win it all. But I could see them going 9-7...As a Bears fan I'm scared of the Lions...Okay, gotta run and prepare for the first PTI in some time...we'll chat Tuesday, the dat after Labor Day...See you then...have a great holiday weekend and thanks for chatting...MW


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