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The Chat House with Michael Wilbon

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Michael Wilbon
Washington Post Sports Columnist
Monday, September 27, 2010; 1:30 PM

Welcome to another edition of The Chat House, where Post columnist Michael Wilbon was online Monday, Sept. 27, at 1:30 p.m. ET to discuss the Redskins-Rams game, college football, 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.

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Reston, VA: Considering that he plays for the truly lousy Redskins and that his former backup, Michael Vick, is playing like an all-pro in Philly, should we feel bad for McNabb?

Michael Wilbon: Hi Everybody! Let's jump right into the Redskins debacle yesterday...and YES, I feel for McNabb...But we're friends, so for me it's entirely about Donovan and has nothing to do with any sentiment for the Redskins and their situation which, again, is of their own doing...And we'll deal with that in a bit. Anyway, it's a long season so I don't want to jump to a bunch of conclusions...BUT it looks like Donovan has a team lacking anything resembling a game-breaker on offense, which Michael Vick has three, at least in Jackson, McCoy and Macklin...Wow. Add Vick and you've got four. The Redskins have none, zero. The receiver are old, the backs are old...No explosion on offense. And where are they going to get it this season? Answer is: they won't. Well, it's hard to imagine they will...So Donovan has his work cut out for him, and it's not like he's 27 years old and can just up and take over big games by himself...

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S. Rockville, MD: Wilbon - Looks like Boise State will travel to a ranked Nevada squad later in the season. Any hope that another road win over a ranked opponent will help them enough with the computers or the voters to make things interesting?

Michael Wilbon: Yes. And I'm not looking for it to be interesting; I'm looking for Boise to be in the BCS Championship game. Well, we don't have to worry about Texas being there, do we? But beating Nevada, Oregon State and Virginia Tech (twice) makes for three impressive wins...especially when they beat Virginia Tech so bad it was felt by five years worth of Hokies football players.

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Pittsburgh, PA: Obviously a big Charlie Batch fan (when uninjured, he's always been a very competent backup). Should I be concerned that Ben might not be ready to start on Week 6 after not practicing with the team since the preseason?

Michael Wilbon: I was just telling TK that I'm not so sure I wouldn't bring Big Ben in out of the bullpen when he's back and ready...Just continue what you've got with the Steelers until there's reason to change. And unlike a lot of franchises in various sports, that basically hand the keys to superstar players, the Steelers don't do that. All the time the Steelers let free agents go and simply replace them. This isn't even that difficult. Big Ben will be grateful just to be eligible again and contributing. Bring him off the bench is Batch is playing well...What a problem to have at 3-0...

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Annandale, VA: Do you think Donovan Mcnabb will want to sign with Redskins? I'm worried that if team goes 6-10 that he'll see if he can sign with a better team. To me it is the Skins best interest to get him signed ASAP.

Michael Wilbon: I wouldn't. Not if my home is in Arizona and the Cardinals need a QB and they've got Larry Fitzgerald and Steve Breaston and Beanie Wells and Hightower. Those are weaopns, baby, and a lot more than the Redskins have. Donovan may not see it that way at all, but you asked me...

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Rockville, MD: With likely losses coming to Philadelphia, Green Bay and Indy can the Redskins realistically even get to six wins this season?

Michael Wilbon: Yes. And stop pronouncing the season dead three games in. It's stupid. Hell, two wins against the awful Giants will get them to three...

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La Mesa CA: Does Gilbert Arenas stand a realistic chance of redeeming himself?

Michael Wilbon: I've got two words for you: Michael and Vick.

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DC: Why does there always seem to be more than a hint of Karl Malone in Donovan McNabb's game? He's a great guy who has a lot of skill, but has always lacked the "it" factor to get him that ring.

Michael Wilbon: May turn out to be a good analogy...Let me ask you this: How many guys have that "it" factor that pushes them over the top into that championship catagory? A handful, right? It's awfully rare and if Donovan doesn't have it in the end, he'll end his career with lots of great company. Dan Fouts, Dan Marino, Boomer Esiason come to mind.

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Wizards: How good can the Wizards be this season. Do they even have a chance to play at .500?

Michael Wilbon: Not very good, and no. The Washington Wizards are starting over, essentially, building around a rookie point guard who played one year of college ball. We don't know if Andray Blatche is a real player or a numbers-oriented fraud (I suspect the latter). We don't iknow if Gilbert Arenas can recapture any of what he had. And on top of that the East is now loaded. Miami, Boston, Orlando, Chicago, Milwaukee and Atlanta will all win 50 or more gamesThe Knicks and now the Nets have more good pieces. The Wizards need at least one more trip to the top of the draft lottery, continued development from McGee, a personality transplant for Blatche and a trip in the way back maching for Arenas. I think forecasting anything more than 30 wins this year is overly optimistic. BUT, we've seen what new owner Ted Leonsis can do, in terms of building a contender. He's done it with the Capitals, and I think he'll do it with the Wizards. But it's going to take three full years. Even if Wall is the next Isiah Thomas it'll take three years, what with those other Eastern Conference teams (except Atlanta) just starting their runs...

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Brunswick, MD: Mike,

Have you been watching the 100 greatest players series on the NFL channel? Fantastic stuff. I feel dumb for never having heard of Marion Motley before (FB CLE 1946) - I had no idea the NFL actually integrated before MLB. Anyway, its too much fun watching old footage of the game's greats.

Michael Wilbon: It's smart, well executed and irresistible. I love watching it. It should be required viewing for every alleged NFL fan who, after a local player has one good game, wonders, "is (fill in the blank) the best running back ever?" Actually, asking isn't all that bad; arguing it is much worse because so few people anymore have ANY idea of the history of the sports they claim to be a fan of. Everybody should watch that series...I'm old enough to have uncles who watched Marion Motley and told me when I'd make some silly proclomation in the 1980s, "Boy, did you ever see any film of Marion Motley?" Once I did, I shut up.

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DC: Who will the national audience be rooting for next week: McNabb or Vick?

Michael Wilbon: Vick. Not even close. Don't get me wrong, plenty of people will be rooting against Vick because of what he did, but we as a culture dearly love a comeback. Wait until Tiger shows signs of regaining his form...Nobody was more reviled than Muhammad Ali, and after his comeback nobody in the history of sports in America was more beloved. Now Vick is no Ali, not professionally or personally...He has none of the cultural or political or social significance...But Vick is the guy who's presented to us now. People have seen his who career, starting in college, play out on the national stage. He's the most compelling figure in sports right now and that's going to get5 him a pretty damn big bandwagon.

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BSU beats VT so bad..... say what?: I don't understand your wording regarding the Boise State win over VT. "especially when they beat Virginia Tech so bad"; Boise State won by 3 points and they were supposed to win as they were the higher ranked team. The score seemed balanced for two ranked teams so what do you mean by "so bad"? (I'm a Hokie but have no qualms about BSU being in the championship game if they are one of the top 2 BCS teams.)

Michael Wilbon: They discouraged Virginia Tech so thoroughly the Hokies quit the next week, didn't show, didn't post, didn't want to play. Boise, by whatever number of points, broke Virginia Tech's spirit. That, my friend, is a beatdown. And it came on the road (forget neutral site) and happened after the Hokies thought they had the game won. That's how a 3-point defeat kills your season.

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DC: How hard should Roger Goodell come down on Braylon Edwards? This was the same idiot who was out drinking with Donte Stallworth before he killed someone in Miami.

Michael Wilbon: Hard, as far as I'm concerned. I have no tolerance for drunk driving. None. Is it true the Jets GM said the bigger problem was that Edwards was out so late? If true, that's an idiot thing to say. I like Edwards. I have a good relationship with him, find him engaging...But this can be tolerated. Cannot be. I think Braylon is one of those young men who needs a mentor completely outside of football, probably outside of sports. He's really a smart, personable kid, but that makes no difference when it comes to driving under the influence. He could have killed somebody, several somebodies. It's intolerable and inexcusable no matter who was driving and the NFL can't just let it slide...

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re: Gamebreakers: "The Redskins have none, zero."

You don't think McNabb is a gamebreaker? Unfortunately he can't throw it to himself. But without him the Skins are 0-3. And I mean 0 points, not just 0 wins.

Michael Wilbon: Good point...and no, McNabb at 30-something isn't that guy anymore, isn't supposed to be, can't be. He's a damn good QB, as we've seen, though he had a very sub-par game yesterday...I mean a RB or WR who scares the defense. The Redskins simply don't have that guy.

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Germantown, MD: What is your opinion of Mike Shannahan? He seems to a bit of an egotist to me. It seems he feels he needs to prove that he is a football genius. The way has handled Haynesworth has been awful and how did Portis only get 7 carries yesterday?

Michael Wilbon: Um, you and I--as the coaches and analysts like to say--are on the same page. I think Mike Shanahan is a helluva coach...AND something of an egotist. And as I've written a million times, all that arrogance floating around at Redskins Park and within the organization has to be checked and eliminated or we'll continue to see what we've seen for more than 10 years now. You can be both a damn good coach and egotist. Hell, the Redskins have had three recently: Marty Schottenheimer, Steve Spurrier (to much less an extent) and now Shanahan...All three, in the right circumstances meaning a strong GM with credentials and a short leash, can win big...But in the culture already created at Redskins Park? Apparently, not so much.

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Washington, D.C.: Maybe I'm too old school and out of touch, but the Braylon Edwards incident seems to be teaching the lesson that as long as you play well on the field, you will be forgiven for whatever you do off.

I think Ryan should have benched him the entire game. If it hurts the team, then it says that your actions off the field will hurt the team on the field. Men of character will respect the coach who stands on principle, and will place the blame with the errant player.

The message this told kids was - just be good at the game and that's all that matters.

Michael Wilbon: Tony Dungy cut a guy for this. CUT HIM. I'm with you completely.

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Washington: Mr. Wilbon,

The DC area is funny; it is so overconfident for a mediocre football franchise. The Capitals, however, a real contender with real stars, get the negative stuff like: "They can't win in the playoffs."

While I won't argue that, its already a forgone conclusion that the Caps will make the playoffs. They are miles and miles ahead of the Redskins from an organizational standpoint. Will the Caps ever get a fair shot in the media even with all the stinking of the Redskins?

It is like having a straight 'A' student getting a 'B' vs. a 'C' student getting a 'D.' Why is the successful 'A' student more overlooked?

Michael Wilbon: You're comparing apples and oranges. The Capitals are, by light years, a better organization. But the Capitals don't matter like the Redskins here. I don't know that there's a place in America where the hockey team, even at championship level (okay, perhaps the Bruins, Red Wings maybe) are worth of the media coverage that the corresponding local football teams is. One league's regular season games can attrack 15-18 million viewers, the other maybe 250,000. We don't base coverage only on record, but on interest. That's the way it goes...

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DC: ""is (fill in the blank) the best running back ever"

Jim Brown, and then we can argue about number 2.

Michael Wilbon: Yeah, I'm of an age where Jim Brown is the greatest football player ever, greatest lacrosse player ever, one of the five greatest athletes ever...Now, I can make the argument for Walter Payton, and as that series winds down maybe I'll do that...I can make an argument for Jerry Rice, for John Elway, maybe for Joe Montana. But we're talking about such a short list. Very short, tiny...But I want to continue that dialogue in the coming weeks...Okay, I gotta run because we're making our debut in a new studio/workspace after 9 years at Atlantic Video...And we've got to make sure everything, while shiny and beautiful, is working perfectly...which means starting earlier...So, I've got to run...Will answer some more of your questions tonight on washingtonpost.com. Thanks everybody for chatting...See you next Monday. Have a great week. mw

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