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The Chat House with Michael Wilbon

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Michael Wilbon
Washington Post Sports Columnist
Monday, October 4, 2010; 1:30 PM

Welcome to another edition of The Chat House, where Post columnist Michael Wilbon was online Monday, Oct. 4 at 1:30 p.m. ET to discuss the Redskins-Eagles 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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Denver: The Skins were a dropped "hail mary" away from losing that game. What more do you believe we have to do (other than put more points on the board) to stay on top. Our record should really be 0-4.

Michael Wilbon: Hi Everybody...we'll jump right into the Redskins, the NFL and of course the recently concluded Ryder Cup competition, which was a thriller...As for the Redskins, that last Hail Mary pass from Kevin kolb should have been caught in tht end zone for a touchdown, and yes, the Redskins would have lost that game after a 14-0 lead. I love these questions: "What more do we have to do to stay on top?" You're not on top. You're 2-2, which isn't on top of anything, perhaps other than a bad division. The Redskins, like about 25 of the other 31 teams, are pretty good, capable of winning against anybody pretty much and capable of losing to anybody pretty much. I'm laughing at all the optimism I'm hearing on the local radio station today on the drive in, when a week ago the entire town was on suicide watch after the loss to the Rams...It's a week-to-week business. Ask the Bears and Giants. There's no great team this year, not a single one. The Kansas City Chiefs are the only unbeaten and that's because they didn't play yesterday...Calm down. It's a long ride and the good news is none of the games are unwinnable...

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Denver: MW -

Michael Vick said in his interview with Jim Mora yesterday that going to prison was the best thing that could have happened to him and that it was the only thing that set him straight. Do you feel that there are many other athletes who could echo these words? Not the prison part, but the needing to be set straight part.

Michael Wilbon: I wouldn't confine it to athletes. We tend to center such conversation on them because they're so visible. There are plenty of people, regardless of what they do, who are sadly in need of some moment or event that brings clarity to their lives. People write about these experiences all the time or talk about them...ordinary folks, folks with money and fame. It's the later we fixate on, and I watched a couple of Vick interviews with great interest. I know far more athletes who don't need anything that dramatic than athletes who do. What about the actors/celebrities who have this same kind of drama (drugs, alcohol, etc.) playing out in their lives? Charlie Sheen comes to mind. I wonder what in the world might possibly set him straight...If that did it for Vick, my feeling is it's sad it took that and I hope, at the very least, he is straight and good, on the straight and narrow.

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Springfield, VA: I, for one, hate parity in the NFL. Having no elite teams means there are no marquis teams to beat, and no good barometer for any team to measure itself. If this year's NFL was college football or basketball, all we'd be hearing is how 'down' a year it is. One would really hope we don't end up with a bunch of 9-7 division winners throughout the NFL at years end. But by my count, there are at least 3 divisions out of 6 where that could realistically happen. What say you? Parity, does it lift all the boats, or does it create a sea of mediocrity?

Michael Wilbon: I like when there's a dominant team, like the Patriots a couple of years ago. I like when there are two or three marquee teams like last year with the Saints and Colts. I also can enjoy seasons where parity is the rule. I don't need one thing all the time. In fact, I hate one thing all the time. I like a variety and this is the season, apparently, of parity. I'm fine with that. Football can stand parity better than any of the other sports, I think. Baseball, basketball and hockey need a defining teamk, in essence to frame the season. Football? Not so much.

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Montreal, Canada: Hi Mike,

Not sure but can the Redskins make a trade for a top WR (someone like Larry Fitzgerald)....we all know they need one! Thanks.

Michael Wilbon: So the Cardinals would want to give their best player, and perhaps the best receiver in football, to the Redskins, for what purpose exactly? You know, the Nationals need Albert Pujols, too. Why don't they call the Cardinals and ask for him?

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Silver Spring: Posting early.....

What happened with the Bears last night?

I am a big Giants fan, but there is NO way they got their defense turned around that fast.

Cutler was terrible beyond words.

Michael Wilbon: Cutler is a bright young man who's not nearly as smart on the football field as he thinks he is...which to me adds up to arrogance. Tony Dungy at halftime and Cris Collinsworth heading into the third quarter both illustrated at great length how Cutler turned up his nose at 12-yard passes to look for 40-yard passes even though the Giants were desperate and purposeful on defense, needing a win as much as any team in the NFL yesterday. Cutler may never be a top-flight QB in this league and his "My-arm-is-stronger-than-John-Elway's-arm" mentality (even though it isn't) is part of what's going to hold him back. Kyle Orton, the man the Bears dumped to get Cutler, is SOOO much better a quarterback now. Not even close.

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Binary fans: Isn't this town amazing? From the time just before the Rams game to the time just after the Eagles game the team has gone from playoff contender to a pack of hopeless, over-the-hill losers, and back to playoff contenders again.

Reality for this team must lie somewhere in between those extremes. Where do you think it is?

Michael Wilbon: You said it in the beginning of your question. All the NFL fan bases share some of that over-the-top, week-to-week flip-flopping which I find so annoying. Nobody wants to ever say, when it comes to their NFL team, "I don't know." Nobody wants to let anything play out. They just declare, stupidly, week after week depending on what happened most recently. And yes, in my experience of traveling around the league and covering football for most of my adult life, D.C. is among the biggest offenders when it comes to this. The reactions are so extreme and comical.

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Steel City: We were debating this yesterday and wanted your take. What are the top five sports towns in America? Our list, in order, goes: Pittsburgh, Boston, New York, Chicago, and St. Louis.

What do you think?

Michael Wilbon: No. 1 can't be Pittsburgh because the baseball team is of no consequence (through no fault of the town's) and there's no basketball. So, Pittsburgh is out. I don't know that you can determine a No. 1 in any meaningful way. But the group is New York, Boston, Chicago, (St. Louis, no chance...football not important enough, no hoops), Detroit, Philly. It would have to come from that group and it probably fluctuates depending on what year or group of years. I think it's been Boston lately, but all those cities have taken their turns at the top...Did I leave anybody out? I don't think so.

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Baltimore: So what's the national take on the Black Birds of Doom taking care of business in Pittsburgh yesterday? Are they going deep in the playoffs or is "no Roethlesburger" too big of a factor?

Michael Wilbon: The Ravens are my pick to make it to the Super Bowl in the AFC...I think I wrote in the Post's preseason forecast that I had Indy and Baltimore in the AFC title game and Green Bay and New Orleans in the NFC. I'm a little worried about one of those four right now: the Colts. They can't win on the road in the division at present. But the Ravens...Ray Lewis is playing at that Dick Butkus/Jack Lambert/Mike Singletary/Ronnie Lott/Reggie White level (yes, I know the last two are not LBs)...and he's in his, what, 14th season or something like that! Flacco is steadily getting better. The running game isn't always fancy or prolific but it's effective. And to think they can add Ed Reed in a few weeks. Boldin and T.J. make a world of difference in the passing game. The owner and GM in Baltimore are just so very, very good at doing what they're supposed to do, and no more or no less. And you can read that, Redskins fans, any way you want to. The Ravens have such an exemplary organization...I find it difficult to not root for them. Now, with Big Ben coming back it's going to be some kind of division race between the Steelers and Ravens down the stretch. The Bengals aren't resourceful enough and disciplined enough to stay with Baltimore and Pittsburgh and we saw that yesterday...Fun, fun, fun battle down the stretch. I think Pittsburgh and Baltimore, if the Colts don't step it up, could be your AFC title game. How great would that be?

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Hillcrest Heights, MD: Mike, Kobe said he could easily take LeBron one on one. Your thoughts?

Michael Wilbon: Take him, okay. Easily? Not a chance. LeBron is bigger and stronger and just as fast and has so much less wear and tear on his body...

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Joel from Sugar Hill, GA: Mike,

How great was it to see DMac get one vs. the Eagles yesterday? He struggled a bit in the 2nd half, but came away with the W. I think McNabb is a natural leader, great for the Redskins and needs to be locked up long term. Do you see him under center for the Skins next season? And, as always, you were great on TK's radio show this AM.

Michael Wilbon: Thanks...I don't know that any QB at 32 is a long-term answer...That's why the Eagles started grooming Kevin Kolb. Collisions are so violent these days and injuries so common...young guys can get injured, too (Donovan did)...I like Donovan for right now, this season and next. I don't know about the beyond, especially since the Redskins as an organization have failed to figure out who they are. So much uncertainty and dysfunction with the club over the last 10 years...I've stopped predicting what they'll do, especially at QB where they've had a few over the decade.

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Germantown, MD: The Ryder Cup came to an exciting conclusion today. I thought Tiger Woods played his best golf of the year today. Will we see the old dominant Tiger in 2011?

Michael Wilbon: I don't know about dominate...I'm sure he'd be happy right now with just standing in the winners' circle again. And yes, Tiger did win 3 of his 4 matches in Ryder Cup, which I think is the first time he's done that. He had seven birdies and an eagle through 15 holes. 9-under in 15 holes? I think he could get back to winning Majors playing like that. I thought going into the competition that this would be the launching pad for Tiger for next year and beyond and there's no reason to change my mind based on what we saw this weekend. And yes, it was a thriller. Grahame McDowell had some season, didn't he? To come and take the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, then win the Ryder Cup with those two putts...Congrats to Europe...though we've got a couple of guys on the U.S. team (Mahan and perhaps Cink) who are kicking themselves over one swing of the club...

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WDC: In your opinion, should either Andy Reid or Lovie Smith be fired?

Michael Wilbon: What? You're going to fire the coach of a 2-2 team (Reid) whose teams have been to five NFC Championship games or the coach of a 3-1 team whose has winnable games the next three weeks. What?

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Dallas: The reason Redskins fans are as prone to extremes as they are, is that year in and year out there is something flashy going on that has the patina of great potential. Whether it's a new coach (Spurrier, Schottenheimer, Gibbs II) or a big FA signing there is something that makes one think: "Okay, this could be it." Or when Zorn's team goes 6-2 and you start thinking, "Maybe there's a new paradigm," there is a sense of something unusual going on, some... some tantalizing potential. What they have NOT been is the Detroit Lions, who no one ever really expects much of. That's why Redskins fans love themselves some bandwagon.

Michael Wilbon: They loved them some bandwagon long before the Snyder era began. Nice try. I'm not that easy.

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Raleigh, NC: I'm amazed that the Michigan State head coach was going to coach that game before he had to go to the hospital again. I'm even more amazed that there didn't seem to be any uproar on the sports shows. Shouldn't the Michigan State AD or President step in and say, "You're going on a sabatical for the remainder of the season."

Michael Wilbon: Great point, and the answer is, probably. Look, I'm qualified to speak to this more directly than most. I had a heart attack two years ago and tried to come back to a lot less stressful job the same week. Luckily, some coaches and giants in my own profession (thank you Mr. Larry King) who'd had similar episodes reached me and told me to shut up, sit down, and listen...Thankfully, I did. I came back after another few days, but didn't fly, changed my lifestyle rather dramatically. And the Michigan State Coach, who seems as if he thinks he's still bullet proof even though he just took a bullet, is going to have to come to grips with this, which a great many men don't want to do. Fortunately, there are a lot of smart, accomplished men who do come to grips with their healthy issues and (if you will) their mortality...and after making the necessary changes (which are ongoing) can still be as successful going forward in their lives and careers.

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Brooklyn: I have a radical idea for NCAA football rankings: Don't rank the teams until they've played the first four or five games. That way you weed out the teams that are getting by on name and reputation.

If they waited until this week to rank the teams, Texas, Va Tech and USC wouldn't even be in the top 20. But they started the season ranked 5th, 10th and 14th respectively because of reputation.

That makes it harder for some of the better teams that don't have a big reputation to move up the rankings. What do you think?

Michael Wilbon: Sorry to disappoint you, but it's been suggested for many years by many people...Regardless of who suggests it, I like it...a lot.

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Washington, DC: Mr. Wilbon,

I am tired of fans focusing on the ills of athletes even after they paid the price many times over, example Vick and Woods. Aren't you?

Michael Wilbon: Ah, yes. Their circumstances are very, very different. Tiger Woods, last I checked, didn't break any laws even if he broke some vows. Vick did break the law, so the two aren't equal. But at some point the preaching, in each case, becomes a bit much.

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Westminster, MD: Did you talk to Charles Barkley about wearing a #5 Redskins jersey to the Linc? Did he do it?

Michael Wilbon: I don't know. I did talk to Charles yesterday, but I ddin't ask what he was wearing.

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Alexandria, VA: Michael,

Lifelong Redskins fan, and no offense taken. Anybody that does must be smoking from the same pipe that Snyder has been for the last ten years. You couldn't have explained my decade of misery any better.

Michael Wilbon: Thank you!

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Washington: The problem with Cutler is the fact that he bragged about having a stronger arm than Elway. Why is that a problem? Because it reveals he doesn't get what makes a quarterback so important.

Who cares if Cutler has the strongest arm in the world, strong arms don't make great quarterbacks. Think of Montana or Brady. Super Bowls are won by field generals, not gunslingers.

Michael Wilbon: You make the ONLY point worth making about that...well, there's one other. He thinks his arm strength allows him to throw passes only an egomaniac would attempt...and they often get picked off. If he didn't focus on something so unimportant, as you insightfully point out, then he might have a leg up on being a much better QB. It's like a baskeetball player saying, "I can jump higher than Michael Jordan." The reply should be, "So bleepin' what!" Jumping doesn't make you a great basketball player, as men named Magic and Bird could point out.

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New Orleans: Did you see the "gift from the gods" for the LSU Tigers? Les Miles is the worst clock manager I've ever seen!

Michael Wilbon: THE worst. Maybe the worst ever. That he keeps winning these kinds of games doesn't speakk well of the SEC either, by the way...I think the Pac-10 is better this year, though the SEC is the best more often than any other conference.

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Temple Hills, Md: Mr Wilbon, What's your take on this? There should be a NBA triple header played on Martin Luther King Monday, each year in the following cities; Atlanta (his home), Washington D.C. (the march), and Memphis (place of his death).

Michael Wilbon: I'd be fine with that. Does that mean no other games in any other city?

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NYC: Does Favre have any chance left this year? I know it's only week 4, but that early bye is going to kill him. Now he as 13 straight weeks of football. That's going to be rough.

Michael Wilbon: Then Favre better quit before the 18-game season, right? Aren't we talking about a guy who, essentially, has never missed a game? Playing 13 straight is going to kill him? Why do people feel the need to prounounce a 1-2 team that just made the NFC title game dead after three games? Why? This is one thing about NFL fans I hate, just the wild swings and the emotional pronouncemnts based on nothing. Any check of history would prove these Week 4 declarations are just, well, silly int he overwhelming number of cases.

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Laurel, MD: Why did McNabb get a free pass, criticism-wise, after he ran out of bounds untouched, stopping the clock and saving Philly's last time out. He extended the game 45 seconds----and that almost cost the Skins the game...

Michael Wilbon: I heard plenty of criticism. Maybe you weren't reading and listening to the right things.

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Parity? : Parity is when two evenly-matched teams battle down to the wire, like the fantastic Ryder Cup this year. What the NFL has is not parity, but mediocrity -- bad teams playing bad games and trying not to lose.

Michael Wilbon: Fair. The Bears-Giants game last night was awful, just dreadful to watch. But I wouldn't say that about Redskins-Eagles, about Saints-Panthers, about Colts-jags (59-yard field goal at the buzzer), about Ravens-Steelers, about Packers-Lions, about Falcons-niners, about Browns-Bengals, about Denver-Titans...So, in the case of yesterday's games--and I don't know what you watched but I saw some of every single game--you're just dead wrong. They were pretty good games played by teams than ranged from not bad to pretty good...Sorry.

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Anonymous: "Sorry to disappoint you, but it's been suggested for many years"

So why won't they consider it? What's the argument against it.

Michael Wilbon: They don't want to do it; that's the argument against it. What's the argument against a playoff that deals in truth and makes any sense? There isn't one! Yet, you don't see a playoff, do you?

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Richmond, Va.: I know you're a big Marvin Gaye fan, Wilbon--- after the chat, you need to check out Gaye here, at the piano, singing and improvising.... It's terrific: Marvin Gaye on piano in Belgium - Come Get To This, Distant Lover Enjoy!

Michael Wilbon: Yeah, I've seen it recently and it's just fabulous, as are his wardrobe, which today we'd think is costume. I do love Marvin...my favorite male singer ever...though the body of work Luther left us with is staggering. Those two are at the top of my list. Marvin was just a stunning talent, overhwleming.

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Davis Monthan Air Force Base: I think McNabb's presence goes far beyond just stats, especially until the 'skins get more weapons around him. He's avoided several would be sacks just by sliding around in the pocket. The guy exudes class on and off the field. He's a true franchise qb, something this franchise hasn't had in years.

Michael Wilbon: I agree with every syllable of that.

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Is Martz crazy?: When Cutler suffered his concussion against the Giants, the Bears had the ball deep in their territory with very little time left. Yet Martz still called a pass play, only to see Cutler get sacked again. What was he thinking?

Michael Wilbon: Are you kidding? Martz is more arrogant than Cutler...The only difference is Martz coordinated a Super Bowl offense, then reached the Super Bowl as a head coach. Cutler hasn't led his team to a playoff game yet, and will struggle to do so this year.

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Alexandria, VA: Michael,

I realize that all the talk in this chat will most likely focus on the skins, but as fellow Big Ten fan, how good do you think Denard Robinson is? I would say if he actually had a defense, this kid and Michigan could really be something special, your thoughts? Has Rich Rod finally found his horse to a future in maize and blue?

Michael Wilbon: Robinson is the leading candidate for the Heisman right now. His performance again Saturday was stunning. And defense or not, Michigan has a chance to have a great season and that means, yes, beating Ohio State. He's light years better than Pryor as a college QB. And let me show some love to my man Dan Persa, who has led my Northwestern Wildcats to a 5-0 record and who has completed 80 percent of his passes through five games. Even if the overall play is about a 6, we've got some pretty darned good QBs in the Big Ten this year...

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Boyds, MD: Assuming Michael Jordan is your pick for greatest player of all time, what more would Kobe Bryant have to accomplish to surpass MJ?

Michael Wilbon: There almost nothing he can do. As fabulous as Kobe is he's not as good, not as talented...can't do ANYTHING on a basketball court as well as Jordan did it. Score (no), shoot for percentage (no), handle the ball (not even close), pass (check the assist numbers), rebound (not even close), defend (please!) Kobe's one of the 20 greatest players of all-time...but he's not Jordan and two more titles for seven wouldn't put him there either. And he's not Magic, and no another two titles won't make him a better player than Magic. Don't get me sounded like I'm a Kobe-hater, because I'm far from it. He's the best player in the game today, THE best. But he's not Jordan, not Magic, not ever.

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Detroit: "I am tired of fans focusing on the ills of athletes even after they paid the price many times"

It seems to me that all is forgiven for Vick, but people are just not letting Woods move on. Why on earth is that? I'm thinking it might have to do with who the fans of each sport are.

But frankly I don't care if someone I don't know cheats on his wife, whom I also don't know. What Vick did was much worse in my mind, and while I don't think he should suffer forever for what he did, I don't exactly find his comeback so heartwarming.

Still though, it's good to see that he has apparently learned from his mistakes and has matured.

Michael Wilbon: I think you and I are pretty much in the same place. What Vick did was heinous...felonious. What Tiger did many find, understandably, disgusting. What people do in privacy of their bedrooms is none of my business. No exceptions. So, to me, they aren't the same thing, not close.

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Derwood, MD: Maybe the thing you hate about NFL fans (emotional mood swings from week to week) is partly due to one of the things that makes the NFL so great - the short season where every game has importance. Extend the season and you get less volatiltiy from fans.

I'd rather keep the emotional volatility than extend the season myself (but 18 games isn't too bad if can eliminate some of those horrid preseason games).

Michael Wilbon: I'd rather keep the 16 game season and prevent players from sustaining even more injuries than they suffer already, which would happen in the 18-game season. I don't, by the way, dispute a word of what you said. Thanks.

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DC: You remarked last week that you have no tolerance for those who get DUI's. What was your reaction when your friend Barkley was arrested for a DUI a few years ago and subsequently took leave from TNT?

Michael Wilbon: That I love Charles Barkley, who is a dear, dear friend of many years...But I still can't tolerate driving while intoxicated...Both things can be true...Okay, gotta run and prepre for PTI...Thanks for chatting, everybody...See you guys next Monday, same time...Have a great week! MW

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