The Chat House with Michael Wilbon

Michael Wilbon
Washington Post Sports Columnist
Monday, October 11, 2010; 1:30 PM

Welcome to another edition of The Chat House, where Post columnist Michael Wilbon was online Monday, Oct. 11 at 1:30 p.m. ET to discuss the Redskins-Packers 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.

Submit your questions and comments before or during the discussion.


New Orleans: Seems like the calls started to flow the Skins' way towards the end of the game. Do you think the Skins player who hit Rogers in the head with his helmet should have been penalized?

Michael Wilbon: Hi Everybody!Folks are in a great mood today, what with the Redskins having won back-to-back games...If they beat the Colts Sunday, which is quite possible, people will start musing about the Super Bowl a week from today; just watch...We'll jump right into the NFL and maybe some playoff baseball...Goodness, the Phillies look unbeatable, what with that rotation of Halladay, Oswalt and Hammels. Wow. As for yesterday and the Redskins, I don't think calls had that much to do with anything. Yes, that last hit could have been called helmet-to-helmet contract. I've SEEN it called this year. But it's so subjective. The defender didn't drive Aaron into the ground; in fact, he tried to pull up...pulled his arms back, and I think that mattered to the official looking at the play. Of more importance to me, it just seemed the Redskins KNEW they could count on McNabb to figure out a way to win that game...or should I say Shanahan and McNabb. The Packers injuries are going to really challenge that team the next few weeks. They can't mount a pass rush with Matthews on the sideline...But the Redskins just took that game yesterday after getting knocked around pretty good the first half. Impressive win, I thought...And as a Bears fan, it was particularly enjoyable to see my boys win and the Packers get knocked off, by whatever means necessary! So, thanks for that.


Columbia, MD: Do you think Carson Palmer is an NFL caliber quarterback? I don't.

Michael Wilbon: Yes, he's still an NFL QB. Come on, don't be a goofball. Todd Collins? Not so much. But clearly Palmer isn't what he was before that gruesome knee injury a few years ago in the playoffs when it looked like Palmer was going to be an elite QB in the league for awhile. I don't think Palmer has ever fully recovered from that injury and having his career derailed by it. No way the Bengals should lose that game yesterday...but the lesson there is that Cedric Benson should have been handed the ball a whole lot more earlier in the game.


Los Angeles, CA: Mike,

ESPN has been underplaying the Favre harassment/sex photos scandal. That includes PTI (so far). My question is, have you felt pressure from ESPN to not cover this story, seeing that it puts their golden boy in a bad light?

Michael Wilbon: We don't sit around with our ear pressed to the phone. I don't ever--and I mean EVER--consult with anybody in Bristol on what to say about anything. When the producers, on Friday, asked me what I felt about talking about the Favre situation, I initially said, no, there weren't enough facts to make any judgements. I'm not going to express an opinion on something that sensentive when I don't know what the hell is true or not. After much discussion in THIS office, not with Bristol, with the producers we work inch-for-inch with on every story ever discussed (as should be the case), it was clear to me that if the NFL was investigating, officially, it was worth talking about. Just that fact, that the league was reviewing the matter, made it newsworthy. And if you paid attention to any of my comments during the Tiger Woods frenzy, you'd know I don't feel the need to "get ahead" of anything of this kind. Why? So I run the risk of needing to apologize later for commenting on something where I don't have all the facts (see Duke lacrosse case). If this is about Favre trying to get with some young woman, it's not my business. If it's something more serious than that, investigators will tell us, or really good in-depth reporting will tell us. I'm not Matlock. There are people ESPN employs who are damn good at that kind of reporting (Adam Schefter among others)...That's not my role for ESPN. So, whether you agree or not I'll be, as they say, playing within myself. There will be plenty of time to rip Favre if that's what's called for once we know more. And if it turns out that Favre doesn't need to be ripped, then I won't hear questions (legitimately) asking me why I jumped the gun...If Favre had some known history of this kind of trouble, I think the criticism would have come much more quickly, and in an avalanche. Let's see...


Washington, D.C. : How does Wade Phillips have a job? Seemingly the have a tier 1 roster, but suffer from lack of focus, passion, chemistry i.e. things that fall on the head coach.

Michael Wilbon: Yeah, I'm not sure the roster is as chock full of talent as you and most others seem to think. Take Romo, for example. All he ever does is throw for a bunch of yards, look good doing it, then make mistake after mistake (either interceptions or fumbles) with the game on the line. This has been going on for years. He's a nice QB...but not Brady or Roethlisberger or Manning or Brees or even Phil Rivers. If you took the same players and put them in Seahawks uniforms people would discount the talent level 25 percent...maybe more. A guy like Marion Barber, to me, is constantly overrated. They've got a few studs, like DeMarcus Ware and Jason Whitten...but I don't think they're any more talented than the Redskins or Eagles...And I certainly don't think Wade Phillips is as good a coach as Shanahan or Andy Reid or Tom Coughlin, which puts him dead last in the division if we rank coaches. The Cowboys, like Notre Dame football, are always overrated and overstated, and that's mostly the fault of my peers in the media and all the former Cowboys on television who talk about how talented they are, as if that makes you a good team.


Concord,NC: I feel that size and the slowdown half court game will be the kryptonite of the Miami Heat for this first season of the big Miami 3. Either the Celtics knock them off in the East or the Lakers get them in the Finals. Their the ONLY two teams that can beat Miami this year

Michael Wilbon: I don't know if I agree with that. I want to see Miami beat Orlando...I think the Celtics, Magic and Lakers can beat Miami...I don't think it's going to be automatic that the Heat roll through Milwaukee and Chicago, both of which have size, depth, and (most important) terrific individual defenders. I can see Miami winning three titles in four years, or something like that. But I don't see Miami winning this season...But isn't that the beauty of this upcoming NBA season, seeing whether Miami can live up to the hype, seeing whether there's somebody out there who can take them out, seeing whether there is some style of play (slowdown in the halfcourt, maybe) that can give Miami fits. Personally, I think Miami has the personnel to play it any way an opponent wants to. The roster is full of savvy, role-playing professionals...guys like Mike Miller and Juwan Howard and Eddie House and Udonis Haslem who KNOW they are support players. Pat Riley has put together a fabulous roster. I can't wait until the season begins two weeks from tomorrow.


Ellicott City, MD: Are you surprised that we're not hearing anything about Troy Smith getting a chance to play in S.F.?

Michael Wilbon: I just think Mike Singletary has been committed to Alex Smith, understandably, since the 49ers decided to not pursue Donovan McNabb in the off-season. Looks like a bad call from where we sit now, doesn't it? Smith, even after he played well the second half of last season, doesn't seem to have the personality to be a top level QB in the NFL...I've met him, talked to him, find him tremendously likeable...but he makes the kind of timid mistakes that just kill a team, which is a big reason why the Niners are 0-5.


New York, NY: What is the sense you get from around the NBA on the Knicks potential this season? Do other teams think Amare will be a big help?

Michael Wilbon: Folks think the Knicks might be the 7th or 8th team in the Eastern Conference, which means they would make the playoffs for a change. I don't think 7th is reasonable...The first six spots in the East are already taken (Miami, Boston, Orlando, Chicago, Milwaukee, Atlanta)...and I think Charlotte will be better and finish 7th...That leaves 8th...The 76ers are dreadful (though Doug Collins will make them better)...The Wizards are starting from scratch. Detroit is done. Maybe the Pacers will be better; I could see that. Roy Hibbert might have a breakthrough season. Toronto is an expansion team (again)...The Knicks could make the playoffs with Amare having a great season. yeah, I could see that...


Skins Best in NFC: Wilbon,

Who, in your opinion, is the No. 1 team in the NFC? Atlanta? I think the Skins have to be in the conversation. The Pack were the favorites to win the NFC, and don't look like a Super Bowl winner or division winner at this point of the season. Thanks!

Michael Wilbon: Great question...I don't know how to separate the teams in the NFC...They're all flawed. The Bears are 4-1 because of a great defense, special teams and a terrible rule that hosed the Lions...The Saints are finding out what it's like to carry the baggage of a champion...The Eagles have been damn resourceful, given their QB Shuffle...The Giants have gone from life support to threatening in two weeks...The Redskins really could be right there at the top of any NFC poll right now. They've beaten the Cowboys, Eagles and Packers, which is pretty impressive...If I was doing this as a poll, maybe I would go 1) Falcons 2) Bears (who beat the Packers and Cowboys on the road) 3) Redskins 4)Eagles 5) Saints...But man, it's fluid. I think th Ravens would flat CRUSH any of those teams. I think the Patriots would, too...And the Jets...And maybe Miami...I mean cold crush them. But these things change over the course of a season. Maybe the Vikings will pull themselves together (though I doubt it)...


Salt Lake City, Utah: Hi Mike,

Any thoughts on the Cards beating the Saints yesterday? I thought Max Hall was more of the "don't lose the game" rather than "win the game" type of QB for the team, but still, for his first NFL start, not too bad.

Michael Wilbon: Max Hall? Max Hall didn't do SQUAT. The Cardinals scored on an interception return, a fumble recovery in the end zone...The passing and running attacks of the Cardinals did NOTHING yesterday...The defense played well against the Saints, who miss Reggie Bush. Max Hall didn't get in the way too much, after throwing a pick to start the game. Look, I'm not saying I have any expectations of the kid, but don't credit him. It's like giving Todd Collins a "W" yesterday after he threw 4 interceptions and got benched in a 23-6 win forged entirely by the defense. BUT, the Cardinals are 3-2 in a weak division...The core of that team played in the Super Bowl two years ago...If they'd dont the smart thing and gotten Donovan McNabb (who only lives down the street!) they'd be one of the favorites in the NFC right now...


Chinatown, Washington, D.C.: John Wall. Ted Leonsis. Are these reasons that a Wizards' ticket plan holder should be excited about the next 3 years?

Michael Wilbon: Yes. It's why I'm probably going to buy season tickets. An executive who knows how to build a franchise and a team and a player who can execute the plan on the court are the only place to start.


Germantown, MD: This morning on 1st Take, I watched Skip rant about how great the Cowboys are based on their stats. Last week ESPN.com had a link called "Why Dallas is the best 1-2 team.....".

Am I missing something here?

Michael Wilbon: Skip, when it comes to the Cowboys, is usually over the top, in one direction or another. And if he thinks the Cowboys are great he should be ignored. And the fools who keep insting the Cowboys are anything other than an overrated load are to be ignored. Their scary.


New Orleans: Did Kolb win his job back last night?

Michael Wilbon: I'd keep him in there. I heard that Andy Reid is committed to Mike Vick this week. I wouldn't be. In this day and age you NEED two quarterbacks, especially with the new rules regarding head injuries. And with the upcoming 18-game season, I'd have a second QB who was simply on-hand to get ready for certain opponents. For instance, even if Vick was healthy, in an 18-game season why wouldn't a team simply have rested him yesterday and let him have a "bye" week to study up for the upcoming Falcons game...That way, kolb could take the next two weeks to prepare for the next opponent...nobody's going to start 250-some straight games in this next era of football the way Favre has, the way Peyton Manning could...This iron-man thing is done, especially with people being ruled out if they get "dinged" in a game. Look at Jay Cutler and Aaron Rodgers. You think the Bears and Packers couldn't use a second "No. 1 QB"?


Miami, FL: As a Heat fan for 22 years, I am certainly excited about this season (assuming Wade stays healthy). What amazes me though is how few people think the Heat will win the championship this year. I understand that anything is possible, but isn't their overall roster better than anybody else's? Didn't the Celtics just win 3 seasons ago with the combined forces of the Big Three, who were all a lot older than Miami's Big Three? Not to mention that since they will be a Top 4 seed in the East, they will only have to play 2 of the Big 3 (Chicago, Orlando, Boston) in the playoffs. So they don't have to worry about ALL three. I just wonder how much of picking against them has to do with sour grapes, as opposed to an actual assessment of talent.

Michael Wilbon: You sound pretty savvy about this...except for your presumption that the team with the best roster always wins. It doesn't. Not even close. Boston didn't have the best roster in the East last year; Cleveland did. Or Orlando. Atlanta might have been next. But Boston won the East. Phoenix didn't have the second-best roster in the West; Denver did. But PHX got to the conference finals. There were plenty of times in the late 1970s and early 1980s when the 76ers had a more talented roster than anybody, but couldn't get past Portland (1977) or the Lakers or Milwaukee in the east...yes, there are times when the best roster (Moses Malone and the '83 76ers) simply overwhelm the field. Same with the '96/97/98 Bulls. But I'd say 50 percent of the time the team with the "best roster" doesn't win...We don't know whether Miami has what it takes, inside, to take on the challenge of an entire league. I don't presume that kind of competitive strength, I have to see it. That's the beauty, I think of this season, seeing if Miami has that thing it takes beyond talent to be a champion.


Tampa: Mr. Wilbon-

Okay - what we keep reading and seeing over and over is how an entire conference in the NFL is weak - true. That's a problem. How can an entire conference be weak? We need six fewer teams and 2 fewer games.

Michael Wilbon: 16 games is fine...24 teams would be awesome...even 28 teams. But you're never going to see any league reduce, unless ecomomic forces make them. 18 games is dangerous and arrogant. More is not, in this case, better.


El;icott City, MD: My question was about Troy Smith, not Alex Smith. Troy was popular in Baltimore, both with fans and teammates. Many of the Ravens said he could be a starter in the league, yet it seems the 49s are going to go with someone who has been given multiple chances without success. What's the quote about the definition of insanity?

Michael Wilbon: i know. I was telling you why Singletary stayed with Alex Smith and didn't make a change...because the club is so invested in him being "their guy." But if you're not producing you only get so long. Alex Smith is at that point...


Sacramento, CA: What steps can the Chargers do to fix the turnover and special teams problems and get back in contention for the AFC West?

Michael Wilbon: Fire some coaches. And bring back Vincent Jackson...But it's an awfully arrogant organization, led by a guy now derisively nicknamed around the league, "Lord of No Rings." How great is that?


Bear Fan: So, who would have guessed the Bears had a quarterback on their roster who would make Cutler look both accurate and careful? The defense is starting to look beastly though. Where do you see them finishing?

Michael Wilbon: Well, if the Packers can't get healthy (they're missing a lot of guys) and the Vikings crumble under all the pressure and the Favre controversy (possible) then the Bears can win the division...What looked three weeks ago like a strong division could become pretty weak, though watch the Lions. I said at the start of the season I thought the Lions were an 8-8 team, which I still think they could be.


Randy Moss fan in Minnesota: Do you think the reaction to Randy Moss is a barometer on race stereotypes and issues in sports? Is he divisive or genuinely seeking to help his team win? Is he selfish for wanting a new contract or justified by his accomplishments? Is he setting up defensive backs or dogging plays? For me, locker room rumors and an unusual press conference shouldn't outweigh his 50 touchdowns and his 40-12 record in determining his character-which we fans never really know about any athlete-but I'm aware of the counter-arguments. I'm anxious to hear your thoughts. Thanks.

Michael Wilbon: That's an entire column, not an answer here at the end of the chat...And I might write about it this week. Your question is both perceptive and enlightened and since we all have our biases, I'll just tell you I think Moss and the way this Favre issue is covered or not, going forward, will say loads about race and what people still think of black athletes/celebrities vs. white counterparts. I'll leave it at that for now, since I lay awake from 5 a.m. this morning wondering about the answer to some of your questions and some of my own about the agenda of many folks, quite a few in my business. More on this both this week and next...very, very perceptive question and thanks for asking it...Okay, I gotta run. hate to end on this particular note but it's probably appropriate given how agitated I am about the whole thing...anyway, we'll chat next Monday after the big Sunday Night game, Redskins-Colts...Can't wait. Have a great weekend. thanks for chatting...mw


baseball: Mike - Selig has to show some guts and put instant replay in place for the World Series - this year. The umpiring is getting a little scary.

Michael Wilbon: He has to? No, he doesn't...and he won't. I'm with you, but Bud's not with us!


Miami, FL: I understand what you are saying and agree with the statement that the best talent doesn't always win....case in point, the 2006 Heat. But I still feel that there are a lot of sour grapes out there and that there are a lot of people who are picking against the Heat for reasons OTHER than their roster and the intangible factors that make a team a champion.

Michael Wilbon: Well, I'm not much on paying attention to a bunch of sports radio talk show callers who don't have a clue...I like listening to insightful people, including players and coaches...


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