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!
Bryan (Springdale, AR) [via mobile]
This is not a guns issue, this is a mental health neglect issue, and an issue of pushing players to be aggressive and to not stop u til things are over. I love foot all and the NFL, but don't go Whitlock or Costas on me and espouse some liberal nonsense about guns. Keep the conversation where it should be, which about the neglect of getting players mental health help when needed and teaching to players to be men, not just aggressive beasts.
mike wilbon (1:39 PM)
I'm gonna jump right in your face to start this chat, right after saying hello. So hello. Who the hell do you think you are to publicly tell anybody what to talk about or what position to take or to be as conversative as you want to be. Not only am I with Whitlock--and glad to be liberal in many ways becuase it helps separate me from you--but I'm loud with him, in total agreement. And if you can't stand a difference of opinion or thought that disagrees with your position perhaps you should find a country to live in where free discussion isn't a cornerstone of the democracy. I'm with Bob Costas and with jason Whitlock. Got it. I can hear the opposing position anytime, but can't stand when some loudmouth behaves like a jerk and wants to tell people how to think when they're searching to discuss a tragedy. Good afternoon to you. I pay taxes and was, yes, born and raised here and damn well will take the conversation to wherever I want...And the problem now, though not as much as a murder-suicide, is people like you who think shouting down people who disagree with you will work. It won't.
mike wilbon (1:40 PM)
Now that I got that off my chest, we'll talk about a lot of NFL-related stuff, perhaps even more about the tragedy in Kansas City, and that discussion will welcome civil voices of various opinions...
Hi Mike, Jovan Belcher's tragic end marred a terrific weekend of good football. I thought too much was made of canceling the game mostly because the bottom line is that he is a murderer who took the life of his child' s mother and then happened to commit suicide. It is so sad. Your thoughts?
mike wilbon (1:44 PM)
I've got lots of thoughts, as if you couldn't tell that already...and one of them is NOT that a murder-suicide marred a week of football. My sensibilities apparently are a little different than yours. A young woman lost her life. A 3-month old baby lost both parents and will have to hear about this for years and years. I don't know whether the game should have been cancelled or not; I tend to cede my position to people who live in the community where the tragedy happened...My first instinct is to say I'm okay with the game being played, but I don't live in greater K.C. where the emotions surrounding this run much deeper. My thought is also that my sympathies are with the victim, the young woman murdered, and even great sympathy for her and her family wouldn't necessarily lead me to cancel a football game...But I could hear other opinions that sway me...
Can we finally start including Russell Wilson in the RoY discussion along with Griffin and Luck (and maybe Martin)?
mike wilbon (1:49 PM)
I just said this to Kornheiser this morning on his radio show...Even if he's not side-by-side with Luck and RG3, I think Russell Wilson is RIGHT THERE. I mean, on their heels. Tony said to me, "He's third," and my response was that Wilson has a chance to not be third. Suppose Wilson leads Seattle further in the playoffs than Luck takes Indy...Obviously, the Redskins have an uphill climb to just reach the playoffs. Anyway, the kid shredded the Bears defense yesterday, 97 yards to tie and then, I believe, 80 yards to win. He made every play he needed to even when everybody in the yard knew what was coming. Wilson was a 10 yesterday, on the road, in a game his team needed...now, the Bears have been exposed in that the defense can't deal with athletic QBs (Kaepernick, Rodgers)...but still, Wilson had to make those plays and did.
Can you roughly estimate how many plays the Bears left on the field yesterday? If Bennett makes that TD catch there's no way they lose that game. I've never seen so many missed opportunities in one game.
mike wilbon (1:50 PM)
I'll just mention two: Lovie Smith's decision to not take a 10-0 lead, which I was screaming about in live time...And the dropped bomb for TD...When you make NEITHER of those two plays at home when you're offense is challenged and injured and your defense can't stop the QB, a loss is sure to follow.
Claudia (Western NY)
Is Mark Sanchez done in NY? What about Alex Smith in SF? Could the Cardinals be in play for one or both?
mike wilbon (1:51 PM)
If the Cardinals are serious about competing and not wasting the rest of Larry Fitzgerald's time there they'll get Alex Smith. I'd take Smith over Michael Vick at this point, but Vick would be my second choice. Sanchez? Not so much.
Chris (St Louis)
Even if the Lakers were fully healthy with their roster, I can't see a team with such little depth going anywhere in the playoffs, do you feel that a trade/ free-agent signing is necessary for the Lakers to be truly considered contenders to the title?
mike wilbon (1:52 PM)
I'm with you...Hard to see the Lakers, with the lineup they have, challenging OKC or even Memphis/San Antonio right now. Of course, Steve Nash is still out, but the Lakers don't have shooters, don't have depth...I think they'll improve by leaps and bounds between now and mid-February...but enough to win the championship? hard to see...really hard.
Mike, I hope you were as disgusted with Kirk Herbstriet as I was. He rips NIU who makes it to a BCS game by playing by the rules that were agreed upon and certaintly don't favor non BCS schools. The bottom line is NIU made it because they are a good team, the Big East is horrible and Ohio St is dirty. Is that NIUs fault?
mike wilbon (1:54 PM)
Fair comment Adam...very fair comment...I'm taking a step back because I KILL the BCS whenever possible. I know NIU lost to Iowa, which is not a great entry to have on your football resume. BUT I frown when I hear guys from big conference schools that are AFRAID to go on the road and play anybody ripping NIU. If the BCS erred on the side of the little guy in this case, great. It's about time.
Garry (Dallas, PA)
Was it just me or was it hilarious that when the Jets FINALLY benched Sanchez and Tebow still couldn't play(injuryed)? That just sums up the mess the Jets are in, right? What a massive screw up. It is becoming a small trend, yes? Numerous teams are misrun badly these days.
mike wilbon (1:56 PM)
Ummm, yes. What you said. I get the feeling Rex Ryan didn't even want Tebow in the first place, much like John Fox didn't want him in Denver last season even though Tebow led Denver to a playoff win. I just think the GM and coach were never in synch with that deal and Rex had/has ZERO intention of playing him, which is really a disaster since looking over his shoulder hurt Sanchez, which hurt the entire team. It was a stupid acquisition the day the Jets made the move and its even dumber now.
Another example that stats tell only so much, Tony Romo all time TD leader for the Cowboys...
mike wilbon (1:57 PM)
Thank you for that. What, because Romo has more TD passes he's better than Staubach? Better than Aikman? When you throw the ball as much as teams do now, which is up to 70 percent of the time, all those records will fall...and yet it means nothing, zilch.
The Lakers have to be the worst team to put money on. When they play like they did against Denver, they are frightening. Unstoppable. But woah, can they put up a stinker, like last night against Orlando. At this point, I think the heart of their issues is their effort and consistency, not the gameplan and adjusting to D'Antoni's system. Your thoughts?
mike wilbon (2:00 PM)
I think its personnel, which begins with not having the kind of players who can play that D'Antoni uptempo style every night with efficiency...I think it has to do with not having depth...I think it has to do with changing coaches 5 games into the season. I think it has to do with Steve Nash not playing. I think it has to do with Dwight Howard being about 70 percent after his back surgery. I think it has to do with the whole team being "scattered" if you will...
Is Lovie on the hotseat if the Bears fail to make the playoffs?
mike wilbon (2:00 PM)
He should be. If you go 7-1 and don't make the playoffs for a third time in four years, yes, you should probably lose your job...
Is it safe to say that the hockey season is a wrap?
mike wilbon (2:03 PM)
I think we're about, what, a week or so from that being the case...I'm still hoping, but hope ain't gonna get it done. I was told by a club executive at the beginning of October that once the players missed four paychecks there was a good chance we'd see some movement. We've got to be at (or right there) at 4 paychecks missed...But I don't know how we get past Dec. 10 and have a season. You think Gary Bettman can do for the NHL what his old boss, David Stern, did twice for the NBA, which is to say, save the season? Or is another missed season what the NHL owners/management wants?
Mike, I'm from the KC area and the opinion of those I know is that if the players and coaches wanted to play the game, then let them play the game. I couldn't fathom what Romeo and Pioli went through, and if being around people they care about, playing a game they love is something that could provide at least a few hours to think of something else, I'm behind them 100%. Having said that, why are certain people in the media blasting the Chiefs decision to hang up Belcher's gear in his locker before the game? I just don't get it, he was basically a part of their family. Let them remember him how they want to, right?
mike wilbon (2:05 PM)
I'd have to think long and hard about the locker thing...My first instinct is I don't like the sound of that...I'm not ready to blast it, but I'm not embracing that either. We're talking about a murder, here...Again, I'm going to defer, largely, to people a lot closer than I am to the situation in Kansas City...But I appreciate you bringing up those topics. Thank you...
MVCA? Most Valuable Chicago Athlete: Derrick Rose or Jay Cutler? Strong argument that Cutler means more to his team than Rose to the Bulls. Never thought I could talk myself into this.....
mike wilbon (2:06 PM)
The way things are playing out is making a lot of us examine that...Good question. Bears can't do anything without Cutler back there. Too bad they lost yesterday because Cutler was great in that game. But one thing we know is that while a single player can carry a basketball team a long way (though not all the way) that cannot happen in pro football...not even close.
Doc (Jersey Shore)
No honoring the victim I guess. While its terrible that an obviously disturbed young man was having extreme difficulties in dealing with his issues, the bottom line is he was a murderer now being remembered (relatively) fondly as if he only took his own life IMO. If you are gonna commit the most selfish of acts and off yourself, have at it, put your family and friends through that, but why KILL someone else? It really pisses me off and as an outside observer, I have a hard time feeling empathy for him. His mother and child are another story.
mike wilbon (2:08 PM)
I'm TOTALLY with you on this...That's why the whole thing about keeping his stuff in the locker doesn't sit well with me...I'm angered at anything that SOUNDS like it's honoring him or recalling him fondly...two days after taking this young woman's life? I can't go there, just can't.
Paul ( NJ)
If I am Rory Mc and I am number 1 in the world, and have all the money I could ever spend, why would I would I switch my equipment for a few more dollars? You with me?
mike wilbon (2:10 PM)
Well, I am in spirit. I had the same thoughts when Tiger did this, when he switched to Nike...BUT, won't Tiger wind up making like a half-billion bucks from his Nike association? I can't say I wouldn't switch for a half-billion. In fact, I can't think of, well, anything I wouldn't do for a half-billion...Doesn't Rory stand to make in that neighborhood?
Chris (Atlanta, GA)
Mike, a lot of the football focus has been on the Chiefs players and how they would handle the game, but I have to wonder how the Panthers players would have gone into it as well. It didn't directly affect their teammate as it wasn't their teammate, but that has to be a difficult situation to go into as the opposition, no?
mike wilbon (2:11 PM)
I would think so. Did wonder about this yesterday...Good question...
No stat head would tell you that compiling TDs = a great player. Understanding the right stats can tell you how someone performed, especially in baseball where the sample size is enormous.
mike wilbon (2:12 PM)
Yes, yes, yes...You're right...in conjunction with other things, yes.
Wilbon, I completely agree with you that this country is all about democracy and free voice, but when your opinion is going to sway millions of people, and it is based in fallacy then people rightly can have an issue with it. This tragedy would have happened regardless of guns, there are many ways to kill someone, and you never ever hear the stories that happen all the time of guns playing a good role. The news thrives off bad news, not good news. Also, I highly doubt whitlock would have been so vocal had the player been white, latino or any other race other than african american.
mike wilbon (2:18 PM)
I don't agree with you for ONE second that the tragedy would have happened anyway. I reject that out of hand, and your saying it doesn't make it so. I don't believe what you believe and neither, apparently, does Whitlock or Costas. And I'm tired of happy talk around sports. That's HIS opinion. Or theirs. And they should give voice to it. And we can argue it or duke it out, but if Coastas influences people, good. GOOD! Like Coastas' opinion doesn't count and yours does? Both opinions count and you just gave voice to yours (with my help)...But when I go to countries where there are no handguns and the murder total is like 13 a year (I think that was the case in Japan in 1988, something unbelievably low like that), I'm swayed. If you're not, that's on you. I AM. And I want to hear it from someone I respect like Bob Costas...
Mike, the SEC Championship game was fantastic. Do you think it was one of the best SEC Championship games of all time? And do you agree with UGA running a play instead of spiking the ball?
mike wilbon (2:20 PM)
I don't catalog the SEC title games but I know this: it was about the best college football game of the entire season. It was a fabulous game on every level and while I thought Alabama was a MUCH better team, truth is if Georgia had spiked the ball and stopped the clock, the Dawgs would have had two shots at the end zone and could have won that game...Great, great, great game.
Patriots vs. Texans next Monday night - winner best team in NFL as of right now?
mike wilbon (2:20 PM)
Better than the Falcons? No. Better than the Broncos? No. But right there with them...
Mike - Do you think the NFLPA will try to substantiate it's case further, in regard to getting more money for player benefit, ultimately trying to tie the KC incident to possible head injuries?
mike wilbon (2:21 PM)
Only if there's some real hard evidence coming that the KC player was suffering from such...But it had better not be done as a reach.
Rob (San Antonio)
Just wanted to mention Charlie Batch. The guy gets ripped for a week and comes out with a game like that. Way to go Charlie!
mike wilbon (2:21 PM)
Worthy shout out to Charlie Batch.
To Bill in (KC)...everyone is grieving with your city and team. But what would your view of Belcher be had the police accosted him in the parking lot before he selfishly took his own life? Hanging his jersey up? I doubt that and the thoughts should be with the actual victims.
mike wilbon (2:22 PM)
Thoughts on the NBA (David Stern) decision to fine the Spurs $250,000 for sitting players? I thought Mark Cuban's comments were spot on, in that you have to protect the golden goose that is TV revenue in Professional sports. That said, the entire process here really irks me (and this comment is relevant to commissioners in all sports, particularly Roger Goodell and David Stern) not necessarily because of the result, but the way it was handled and communicated. Maybe I'm being too sensitive here, but it seems like there has been an increase in issues that fans in particular have had a lot of disagreement with (NFL Replacement Refs, NFL Fines for hitting, NBA fining Spurs) where both respective commissioners are viewed to be at fault for the issues to some degree - yet act like everything they do is 100% without error and perfectly ideal.Feel free to shoot me down... but do sports commissioners owe more to the public in this regard?
mike wilbon (2:27 PM)
I'm not going to shoot you down at all. You raise a perfectly legitimate point that needs to be considered. And there ARE a lot of layers to this issue of Popovich sitting those guys, three of whom are future Hall of Famers. You make a great point about Commissioners protecting TV ratings, and therefore revenues. And if you stop right there at that single point, there is ZERO chance for anybody to disagree with you. I would point out this, though: all these people screaming about the Spurs sabotaging TV are the same folks (many of them) who wouldn't watch the Spurs all those years when they were winning championships while boring folks to death because they didn't have any loons or egomaniacs...Who has brought more honor (and less controversy) to the league than the San Antonio Spurs since 1999?
Hey Wilbon big PTI fan listen to podcast everyday. I was curious if you ever look at comments posted on ESPN articles. I normally dont but i saw them flying in rapidly on the Jovan Belcher story and wonder if you agree that articles like that need to be closed for comments. As apperently people that are ESPN members seem to have a disgusting sense of humor and provide very racially driven comments/jokes, thanks
mike wilbon (2:32 PM)
I don't EVER look at the comments. I did a time or two and realized how ignorant and moronic some of the people are who post them, and decided years ago I don't want to be that cynical about readers/viewers in general...And it's not just ESPN but most publications...and believe me, as somebody who takes expression seriously, it's troubling that as evolved as we are as a people, there are still folks out there who act like they're wearing white hoods and burning a cross. For those who think bigots and misogynists and homophobs have gone away, trust me, they haven't. They're alive and sick as ever, just fewer of them I truly believe...
mike wilbon (2:38 PM)
Okay, sorry to end on somewhat of a downer but I've got to run and prepare for PTI...First, thanks to all the people who wrote in with civil questions, particularly about Kansas City and the tragedy that community is going through. Thanks to everybody for chatting, in general...See you next week...MW