Chat with Michael Wilbon
Welcome to SportsNation! On Monday, ESPN's Michael Wilbon stops by to chat and share his thoughts on the sports world.
Wilbon, a longtime Washington Post sports columnist, is co-host of ESPN's Pardon the Interruption, the popular weekday sports debate and discussion program, as well as an NBA studio analyst for both ESPN and ABC, in addition to writing for ESPNChicago.com. A pioneer in sports journalism, Wilbon was one of the first sports writers to broaden his success beyond newspapers to include television, radio and other media.
Send your questions now and join Wilbon Monday at 1:30 p.m. ET!
mike wilbon (1:31 PM)
What's Happening everybody? What a great sports weekend...We'll jump right into the NFL but PLEASE ask about the fight, Johnny Football v Alabama, golf, whatever...Here we go.
I know how bad the hype can get in Boston, NY and Chicago (lived in all three Go Bears!) when great things are expected of the local teams. How bad is the meltdown in DC today after an 0-2 start for the poorly named football team (particularly after the disappointing Nats season)?
mike wilbon (1:34 PM)
Great question! It's an odd sort of thing, really. I'm, of course, a Chicagoan through and through but I've lived in metropolitan D.C. for 33 years and had a chance to observe all forms of Redskins emotions...And even though the Redskins (I love how you refer to the nickname) have been outscored 55-7 in the two first halves so far, almost ALL of the discussion is about RG3...as if the entire team doesn't stink to the high heavens right now. I mean, the TEAM didn't show twice...didn't compete, looked like dog chow...and almost ALL the talk is of read-option and what RG3 is or is not running or how healthy he is or isn't...(more)
mike wilbon (1:37 PM)
...RG3 has been stinking out the joing, too; don't get me wrong. But we're looking at system-wide failure here (in my opinion) and people are talking RG3 and "slow starts." What? The offense, in two first halves, has been outscored 55-0...The team flat-lined, and its like they lost 24-17 or something. I think people are so shell-shocked because THEY JUST KNEW the team was going 12-4 minimum (I plead guilty, too) that they don't know what to make of it all and D.C., first and foremost, identifies with QB Controversy, going back to Kilmer-Sonny...So, the conversation here is always tilted toward QB issues (as opposed to Chicago where we rarely have one worth obsessing over)...It's fascinating...The "put-in-Kirk Cousins" talk has already started, which is why I thought it was stupid to draft Cousins in the first place if you're allegedly committing to RG3...But wow, what a story, huh?
Ed (Queens Village)
Which former Bear seat is hot Rivera or Frazier?
mike wilbon (1:38 PM)
Probably Frazier, because there were expectations in Minnesota after making the playoffs last season and going 0-2, with both losses in the division, is tough to take. BUT, I find the Panthers fare more disappointing, and I think coaching really comes into question there with the close losses piling up and Cam Newton regressing...Not a good time for ex-Bears coaching, is it? Not those two anyway.
Brian (New Orleans)
You've said a couple times that boxing is dead (more culturally), but can you help me explain how a fighter can earn $42 million on one fight? I mean where does this money come from if fewer people are watching and moving to MMA? Will Mayweather become the richest athelete ever?
mike wilbon (1:42 PM)
Thanks for bringing that up...It's dead relative to what it was...boxing has almost zero cultural impact as a mainstream sport now. Boxing, for the first half of the 20th century, was one of the most important forms of entertainment in America. Joe Louis wasn't just a boxing champ; he was a god for a ton of reasons, particularly to blacks and Jews, yes, but to Americans of all persuasions. Muhammad Ali was the most recognizeable man on the face of the earth for probably 15, 20 years. Fights were weekly, and free, so people regardless of income could see them. Only baseball was bigger...Football, basketball, hockey were NOTHING commpared to prize fighting into the 1960s...Baseball, boxing and horse racing ruled the day in America. (more)
mike wilbon (1:47 PM)
I don't give a damn that people 30ish don't remember that, haven't studied it and don't care about it because it didn't happen on their watches. Boxing occupied almost a hallowed place in American culture. Just because some LHP with a career record under .500 makes more money than Babe Ruth or Jackie Robinson doesn't make him more important as a figure of impact. Boxing is on life-support. One fight, no matter how huge, doesn't give it much life. And I say that as a person who has loved boxing all my life, who has covered boxing, come to know boxers, hung out in musty gyms covering boxing from D.C. to South Korea. Boxing has little if any IMPACT right now because the powers that be took if off free TV and put it--the big fights anyway--on Pay-per-view, starting at 12:30 a.m. eastern time which is DUMB...One fight. One. Where's the next big one? In April? May? next October? When? I love the fights, I miss them. I crave them. I don't give a damn about MMA. I want more boxing and I hope it isn't dead, but I'm braced for the worst...
Brian (New Orleans)
Will Mayweather ever fight Manny Pacquio?
mike wilbon (1:50 PM)
Would anybody care? I certainly wanted to see that fight 5 years ago. Didn't all of us, except Mayweather. I hate that he wouldn't fight Pac...Hate it...And I think Mayweather is the better fighter, was the better fighter then...But he ducked him...No other way to say it. Ducked him even though Mayweather would have been the favorite, justifiably...It's too bad. Mayweather is a genius in the ring, masterful...But the fighters I love the most didn't duck anybody, from Liston to Ali to Foreman and Holmes and Sugar Ray and Hagler and Duran. They fought all comers. All...Every-damn-body...Mayweather didn't. And its our loss. Even if they did fight now, its not the same. They're too old, particularly Pac-man..Mayweather would waste him, right?
Bryan (Springdale, AR) [via mobile]
Dez Bryant is now 1B in receiver rankings in the NFL, agreed? I've never seen a WR so big make such an athletic catch like that before. Every pass should go his way until he is stopped.
mike wilbon (1:55 PM)
Or until he drops one that kills the drive that costs his team the game? You can have him. He's everything you say, in terms of size and speed and athleticism. But I wouldn't have him, not if I had a shot at Larry Fitzgerald or Megatron or Brandon Marshall or Julio Jones, A.J. Greene or Victor Cruz...I just find everybody and everything about the Cowboys overrated and overstated all the time, so I don't want to hear about his numbers...He dropped the pass that was the most important pass of the game. You can have him...
mike wilbon (1:55 PM)
Oh, I forgot Roddy White...
Brian (New Orleans)
What do you think of SI's series of stories on the OKST football program run by Les Miles?
mike wilbon (2:01 PM)
First of all, these morons who are hanging the SI reporter in effigy out at Oklahoma State are gutless little thugs and I wish I could call them publicly what I called them on the phone in some private conversations earlier. Every moron out there in today's culture thinks he's a publisher because he has a cell phone and an index finger, and the idiots are on a college campus doing that? Now having said that, to me it has no impact and and I haven't seen anything that makes me say, "Wow." Nothing. $250 or even $500 handshakes, hostesses giving players sex, college students smoking marijuana? Okay, if you're righteous enough you can legitimately be upset (or if you're a parent of a college student) by any of this, but in the context of what we've already known about college football and basketball programs and what kids do every single day on college campuses even if they're not football or basketball players...I'm sorry, I yawned mostly. Do I condone grade fixing or altering? Hell no. Is it a revelation? You know it isn't...
Brian (New Orleans)
After RGIII's two so-so performances, would you start doing more read option / designed running plays to bring back some of the stuff that made him so dangerous, or do you continue to hold him back for fear of getting hurt again?
mike wilbon (2:07 PM)
What made the offense so meanacing last year was the threat that RG3 could beat you with his legs AND with his arm. We saw it last night with Russell Wilson, who TRULY ran the read-option...even when he took 11 yards on third-and-10 and slid safely...I know its risky, but RG3 didn't choose to play golf. He chose to play football, and there's no guarantee he can do it without being hurt. Now, I'm NOT for unnecessary risks, which is what the kid took last year vs. Seattle in the playoffs. And I'm one of the few people here in D.C. who DID NOT blame the Shanahans for RG3's insistence of being in the game (there's enough other stuff I DO blame them for)...Anyway, if there's no run threat RG3 becomes exclusively a pocket passer, which works for Manning and Brady...but personally, this evolution of football makes me want Aaron Rodgers/Kaepernick/Wilson going forward, if possible. RG3 seemed to be the prototype of that...until last week. Maybe--nod here to Derrick Rose--RG3 should have made sure, if possible, he was healthy enough to run the offense that worked so well last season...Then again, with Kirk Cousins behind him and wanting to play, RG3 probably decided he wouldn't have a job if he waited...Maybe the Shanahans are simply being patient and this will all work out when the Redskins are 2-2 (after beating Detroit and the Raiders)...but if they all have miscalculated and whatever they're running offensively now doesn't work...
Brian (New Orleans)
Were you at the Bears game yesterday and witness the great game winning play?
mike wilbon (2:08 PM)
No. I was in my man cave yesterday trying to witness everything...BUT I will be in Pittsburgh Sunday night for the NBC game between the Steelers and Bears...Don't know what to make yet of the Steelers either, and they surely could be 0-2 after a visit to Cincy tonight...
JoeyB (Oak Lawn, IL)
How much would you attribute the 2-0 start and patience that Jay Cutler has this season so far to new coach Trestman or the gradual addition of talent to surround Jay with and the appropriate time in the pocket and receivers to throw to?
mike wilbon (2:10 PM)
A lot. But the defense has a bunch of takeaways and save Cutler (as he said) after some really bad turnovers yesterday. And let's not forget Devin Hester, who I thought was DONE after last season, for having one of the great kick return days of his career yesterday...It's been a team effort...but ultimately the offense has come through TWICE in two games which NEVER happens with the Bears, not to that degree. That locker room has to be encouraged to be in this position, and Cutler should be oozing confidence with Marshall and Jeffery and Forte and Bennett...and being sacked once in two games...
JimBob (Auburn, AL)
Enjoy your writing and your show. Do you get down south much to experience SEC football to compare with the rest of the world of college football and how intense we fans take the sport? Do you agree that the talent in SEC football is on another level than the rest of the country, similar to the dedication of SEC fans?
mike wilbon (2:16 PM)
Thank you much. And I don't anymore. But I need to hit the way-back button and remind people that my ESPN life is fairly new...a dozen years of PTI and eight concurrent years of NBA coverage and some years before that on various ESPN shows. But for 20 years before that I covered sports for The Washington Post, and much of my time there I covered college football. And YES, I spent quite a few Saturdays in my life in SEC stadiums and communities. I loved it. I've covered games at Auburn, Alabama, Florida, South Carolina, Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Arkansas...been to Ole Miss and Miss State but never covered games there...I probably leaving some place out. Anyway, I'm a season ticket holder at Northwestern--oh wait, I've been to one game at LSU, too--and I love the Big Ten...been to every stadium in the Big Ten--but I tell people all the time NOTHING compares to seeing a game in the SEC...Okay, maybe Notre Dame...That's my favorite place to be on a fall Saturday in the world...But not the Big House, not Penn State, not Nebraska, not Oklahoma, not Texas, not USC...and I've been to them all. I've covered at least one game, or seen a game, in every college football stadium of consequence in America...But the SEC, as a league, rules in that regard...nothing like it...
Steve (Vantage, WA)
I am a huge fan of your writing and studio analysis. I wonder if your unique style of calling people knuckleheads and telling people to shut up has been met with resistance in your development or if it has always been encouraged. I personally find it refreshing and think it is what draws some people to you in addition to your intense research and excellent writing ability. Keep staying true to yourself.
mike wilbon (2:20 PM)
Thank you! You can't start giving opinions and taking positions until you're a columnist, not in the newspaper business, which is where I grew up...I just think you have to have conversation, and "Aw shut up," is part of any sports conversation for real, right? I mean, with your friends or your brother or cousin or whomever..."Shut up, you're a clown" is part of the discourse...mine anyway..."Knuckleheads" is a term of endeartment...usually. It's what my Uncle Bill--he's 91 years old living in San Diego--called me and my brother growing up. And I sign off that way every day in that spirit, and its amazing how many people get angry over it...My response is, of course: Shut up. now, "knuckleheads" can be a negative...it's sort of an all-purpose moniker or pronoun...As in, "you can only have one knucklehead per NBA locker room, which is why I think its okay for the Miami Heat to take on Michael Beasley." In that usage, in sure as hell is NOT a term of endearment. But its all about context. I'm not going to be reverent even if some people don't like it. You want reverent, look elsewhere...I'm glad and thankful you appreciate it...
Jared (San Diego)
The B1G seemed to solidify itself as a middle of the road conference again this past weekend. Would the conference be better served with multiple bowl wins, including the Rose Bowl, or a National Championship victory?
mike wilbon (2:25 PM)
The conference is as important to college football as any, including the SEC. Notice, I didn't say the B1G is as "good as the SEC" I said as important to the country. You've got HUGE cities that are the hub of the B1G, notably Chicago...and Detroit and Columbus and Indianapolis (Hell no, I'm not counting D.C. and suburban New York yet, Rutgers and Maryland fans)...The SEC is miles better than we are right now, but I'll take us over the Pac-12 even with Oregon looking completely unstoppable. The ACC isn't even in the discussion and the Big 12 is so much less than it used to be...And that's just the way it is. I spend zero time pondering the relative srrength of the B1G as a football conference. Ask the SEC presidents if they'd trade television situations with the B1G...I know ther answer to that. In a heartbeat. So somebody must be watching us. Ask Maryland and Rutgers why they signed up...
Chris (Charleston, SC)
To JimBob - you do realize there are three stadiums in the Big Ten that hold over 100,000 people, that are filled every game day? Michigan just set the attendance record with 115,109 two weeks ago. And that doesn't count Wisconsin or Nebraska - both extremely loyal and loud fanbases.SEC talent may be on another level, but please don't discount the dedication from fans from other conferences.
mike wilbon (2:29 PM)
I'm not discounting. But stop giving me numbers, Clown. Numbers aren't the answer to everything. We're talking about ambiance, atmosphere, passion. I AM FROM THE MIDWEST, Dude. I'm a trustee of a B1G Ten university. But the Big House ain't CLOSE to the atmosphere you get at Jordan-Hare at Auburn. Not close. And not close to LSU. Light years away Dude. The tailgaiting ain't close, the hospitality ain't close. I LOVE going to Ann Arbor and State College, but its not like going to Bryant-Denny in Tuscaloosa. Have you been to any of them? Huh? I've been to all of them. ALL, Bro. I've got a standard of comparison, so why the hell would I listen to somebody quoting me numbers and attendance records. Ann Arbor doesn't have those biscuits and fluffy scrambled eggs before games like they do at Auburn...or that sweet tea and barbeque like in Knoxville. Shut up, Bro, you're annoying me...LOL
Bryan (Springdale, AR) [via mobile]
You are the only person who rather have Victor Cruz or Roddy White or Brandon Marshall, than Dez Bryant. The only one. That's like me saying I rather have Demarco Murray than Matt Forte. Seriously Wilbon?
mike wilbon (2:30 PM)
Dam right seriously. You're boy dropped a game-winning pass yesterday, Dude. WAKE UP. I'm not the only one. And if I was, I'd be the only one pointing out how overrated everybody and everything about the Cowboys is, including the receiver who dropped the pass that cost you the game yesterday, while Brandon Marshall caught his. Got it?
JimBob is looking for a pat on the back for being crazy?
mike wilbon (2:31 PM)
I know...Can't give him one though! LOL
Mike, your take on the OKSt story in SI? Lots of players coming out and saying it isn't true, but I cannot imagine this not getting vetted with a fine tooth comb before releasing.
mike wilbon (2:32 PM)
I don't doubt the reporting; I trust the editors at SI...I know some of them, I know how thoroughly and how well they do their jobs...I'm just saying...I don't care all that much...
Aaron (Leesburg, VA)
Is boxing conducting any type of a serious investigation into the judge who scored the Mayweather fight a draw?
mike wilbon (2:34 PM)
Great question. Apparently not...I read a story in USA Today that whoever oversees judges in Nevada defender her scoring it even...which is a travesty...But...that's boxing. You have to allow for this kind of dumb &%$# even when you love the sport, as a whole. "it's boxing" covers a multitude of boxing ills, and there are many...T. Kornheiser has a saying, "Forgive me, but I love it so" specifically about boxing. I love it to, to a fault...But you can't look past stuff like that...calling THAT fight even? Mayweather put on a clinic...
Will the Cubs win a World Series in your lifetime?
mike wilbon (2:34 PM)
You think I have the answer to that...My mother is 87 years old and she's been asking that question since the last time the Cubs were even in a World Series, in 1945 when she was a college freshman in Chicago...
Brent (Bakersfield, CA)
Full disclosure... I'm a Niners fan. Last night, we got beat, fair and square. In two weeks, Niners can't run at all, other than Kaepernick scrambles. With that said, you have to think Niners are still right up there with Seattle for NFC, right? I don't think people realize how much of a homefield advantage it is to play in Seattle, and kudos to their fans for making it that way. Game in SF will probably go the other way, don't you think?
mike wilbon (2:36 PM)
look, it was a bad loss...the second straight bad loss in a row to a division rival BUT both games were in Seattle and yes, I think the 49ers will be just fine...They weren't going to run the table, but they do have to shore up some things. But the niners will be fine; this loss even help them in the long run.
yanks gonna make the playoffs? they have an easy schedule
mike wilbon (2:37 PM)
I was just looking at that schedule...problem is, they've dropped some games to some shaky teams over the last six weeks as it became clear they'd need a push to make the playoffs...I don't think so...
Do you think that the FedEx Cup will remain a permanent institution on the PGA Tour? I am a golf fan and I get that it attracts good fields, but does anyone really care about it?
mike wilbon (2:38 PM)
Fair question. I'm a golf nut and I watch it, but there isn't much buzz...It's football time and I just think the Ryder Cup is the only golf event that will really divert our attention in mid to late September...BUT, if there's that much money out there for the top guys to chase, I think it'll stay on the calendar...
You wouldn't have Andre Johnson ahead of Dez?
mike wilbon (2:38 PM)
Not anymore...Two years ago, four years ago yes. But he's falling off. Andre Johnson has caught a lot of balls and taken lots of hits.
mike wilbon (2:39 PM)
okay, I gotta run...TK is screaming for me to join the Knuckleheads and prepare for PTI so I must...thanks for chatting everybody. This was fun...Next Monday it is! Have a great week...MW