Chat with Michael Wilbon
Welcome to SportsNation! On Tuesday, 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 Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. ET!
Mike Wilbon (1:37 PM)
Happy Tuesday. Hold tight, Wilbon is running a few minutes behind. He'll be joining you all in a few minutes at 1:45 est. -Khaleelah
Mike Wilbon (1:49 PM)
Hi Everybody! This is the day I truly consider New Year's Day for sports fans...Football is truly back (don't I know, having had my opening day hopes for Northwestern crushed...in person, no less)...The U.S. Open is in the serious stages. Baseball becomes compelling (at least to me) on Sept. 1. Hell, NHL camps open in like a minute-and-a-half...Even the NBA camps open in LESS THAN A MONTH...It's all out there. And haven't all the world's great soccer leagues have resumed play for at least a couple of games, right? So, it's a good time...Here we go.
Wilbon, why do you ALWAYS call MJ Michael?
Mike Wilbon (1:50 PM)
I don't always...I don't use "Michael" to his face, unless its an on-camer interview or something. Now you've got me thinking. Anyway, why would this matter? Why does this come up now??? It's funny...I just wonder why? Or how you would even notice that...
Mike Wilbon (1:56 PM)
Either LeSean McCoy or Matt Forte...Look, I don't play Fantasy Football...Played Fantasy Basketball for a few years but I don't do that anymore either. I'm old fashioned AND plain old and I don't want to particularly root for players I have no natural affinity for...And I can't just have any kind of team just picking Bears and other personal favorites...So I don't do it...Silly? Yes. But we are who we are. If I had the overall first pick this year I would probably have taken Forte for the obvious reason. I'm already emotionally invested in what he does every week AND he's one of the top five fantasy players anyway...
Tevita (Salt Lake City)
Mike, how disgusting is it that Michael Sam is not on an NFL roster or practice squad at this point? He played well in preseason and it seems like its all to politics at this point. "The Good Ole Boys" club in the NFL is in full effect, what can we expect to happen with Michael?
Mike Wilbon (2:07 PM)
My instant knee-jerk reaction was kinda like yours...Not QUITE as extreme, but in the ballpark. My first thoughts were "Really? I see one dimensional players in the NFL every week (which is what Sam is accused of being)...and plenty of them aren't any damn good. Hell, I ROOT for some of them on my own team...You're trying to tell me Michael Sam isn't good enough, after an impressive preseason, to be on a PRACTICE SQUAD!!! Really! There are guys who made PRACTICE SQUADS who didn't do didly in the preseason...guys who barely looked alive in the preseason games...THEY earned a spot before Michael Sam? ON THE PRACTICE SQUAD. Not the team, THE PRACTICE SQUAD. My first reaction is this is about what I expect out of the NFL, which I thought would be a much tougher make for the "first openly gay" athlete than professional basketball...That was my first reaction...BUT, I read Bill Polian's assessment and I am persuaded to pump the breaks, to shut up and listen to people I trust are not afraid, not given over to whatever prejudices...And Polian is at the top of my list for sober, fair judgement. I think Polian is the smartest football man I ever met, the smartest football man in and around the NFL in the last three decades. I trust what he does and trust what he says with almost no reservation...And Polian, whose scouting report did not flatter Sam BEFORE he was drafted, has essentially been agreed with by every team in football...Polian says not going after Sam is a football decision only for a guy of his skills and situation...So, if that sounds like I'm being talked off my initial knee-jerk position by somebody, that's what it is. I trust Bill Polian is right and my reaction is wrong...or over-the-top or overly emotional...And I hope to God Bill Polian is right...
First pick in an NFL Fantasy Draft who you got Wilbon?
Mike Wilbon (2:10 PM)
I hope everybody saw the question earlier, that led to my response about Shady McCoy and Matt Forte...In case I goofed up, this was the question...And I think my actual answer is if I had the first pick I'd have taken Forte. If I'd wound up with McCoy, who is probably the best all-purpose RB in football, I'd have been damn happy.
Hi, Mike.Well, summer is over. Boo or Yeah depending on one's viewpoint.What summer news story or stories do you think will stick with you the longest? Sterling? LeBron back home, Ray Rice or something else?
Mike Wilbon (2:16 PM)
Wow, great question...All 3 obviously. They're so different. Only one, LeBron's return to Cleveland, had any kind of uplifting element to it. The others, Sterling and Ray Rice, were such downers. Yet, they were enormous stories. Huge. Sterling was more a springtime story. It did play out into the summer, obviously, but it played out mostly in May. But that's a technicality...I really don't know how to separate them in terms of judging the size or impact. Usually, the scandalous stories resonate more...but LeBron's homecoming story shouldn't be minimized...And all 3 of those covered so much ground in different directions...Bigotry, domestic abuse and homecoming...They didn't intersect, didn't have much if any overlap...And they did kind of hijack the summer...
The Bears defense scares the bajeezuz out of me. Can they score 31 every game to get to 10 wins if the defense is going to give up 30 every game?
Mike Wilbon (2:28 PM)
Defense AND special teams...I think the specials are worse than the defense. I think the D COULD get better. I like what the Bears did in the off-season with the defensive line, especially. But the special teams are terrible in every aspect...kick return and kick coverage, punt return and punt coverage. It's stunning how bad the specials look. Specials can cost a team 2 games easy in the regular season...It so undermines everything else that the team can do offensively. Do I think the Bears can score 35 a game? Yes. Absolutely, yes. And I think the defense will be good enough (ranked, oh, 20th in the league maybe but improving into November and December) but overcome both the defense and specials? that's a tough ask.
Dan (Lancaster, PA)
Kinda telling that your intro paragraph didn't mention golf/FedEx Playoffs/Ryder Cup, huh? Just goes to show that even a stellar talent like Rory doesn't move the needle in the golf world the way that Tiger does. If Tiger were still in the Playoffs and playing in the Ryder Cup, we'd be buzzing about it....
Mike Wilbon (2:30 PM)
It's called "forgetting." I'm sure you're familiar with it. yes, Ryder Cup. How dare I forget that. I attended the last Ryder Cup competition, at Medinah in Chicago two years ago...And I'll be watching every stroke of that competition. Be careful about tying Tiger Woods to Ryder Cup interest...since Tiger was pretty much of zero impact in Ryder competition. He was never great, never...not at that. But the European team appears, on paper, to be so much better...But there's nothing we like as much as a national underdog story, right?
Don (Berkeley, CA)
What do you think of the Raiders starting the rookie Carr over Schaub? And is Derek doomed to suffer the fate of his older brother?
Mike Wilbon (2:37 PM)
The Raiders are so bad...so unspeakably bad...I don't know what this means, except that it can't be good to throw this kid out there. I don't know that the team has any real option if Matt Schaub's arm is shot, which could be the case. Still, starting the season under center may suggest Carr has abundant talent and down the road he may play himself into being a damn good quarterback...But right now? Is he going to be as good as Andrew Luck or RG3 or Russell Wilson as a rookie? Wow, I gotta see that.
Mike, To put the Sam question into context, I believe only 22 of 46 2014 7th round picks made the final 53 roster, with 5 more making a practice squad. So it's not like he's the exception to the rule.
Mike Wilbon (2:38 PM)
Thanks for the statistical context you provide. But here's what numbers can't tell you...whether or not Sam PLAYED better than those who didn't make it. yes, that's subjective, but so is most of the discussion on this topic...
Mike Wilbon (2:40 PM)
Keegan Bradley, Hunter Mahan, Chris Kirk maybe...I like Webb Simpson...I would think Bill Haas would get serious consideration from Capt. Tom. I can't see Watson naming himself...If he AND Monty were both gonna be on the team I could perhaps see it...But no, I don't see that happening. It would become the No. 1 Ryder Cup story if he does, though...
Hi Mr. Wilbon, are Belichek and to a lesser degree Brady tainted by Spygate in your mind? It seems to come up every year, this year by an Eagles cornerback, and I'm curious what your take is, having no rooting interest in the Patriots. Does a another title erase any doubts? Thanks
Mike Wilbon (2:45 PM)
Fair question...mostly about Belichick. Personally, I don't have much of a problem with trying to gather intelligence, unless there's a rule against doing it electroically...Like sign stealing in baseball. Why WOULDN'T you try to do that? Of course you should. Spygate was obviously more elaborate than sign stealing and the league came down on the franchise, so it was significant. But everything seems to have a short shelf life these days, and when I think about the performances of Brady and Belichick, I will freely admit, I don't think about Spygate at all, not even for a second. I don't think they're tainted by this in the way, say, Barry Bonds and others are tainted by using steroids. But I'm sure others feel differently, and have every right to be more critical over that episode than I am...
Is Soler better than Jose Abreu?
Mike Wilbon (2:50 PM)
Wow...Nobody knew much about Abreu until he started bashing home runs, right? He's gonna be AL Rookie of the Year...We already KNOW he can play. Now, Soler looks like a better athlete and looks like he has a better upside, BUT...Abrey is tied for 2nd in HRs and 5th in BA...I mean, .320 w 33 HRs is spectacular and its not like the White Sox batting order can provide him any protection, still he is the AL leader in RBI. He's having one of the great unknown seasons in recent years...I wonder if both were on the playground, knowing exactly what we know now, how many GMs would take Abreu over Soler...Kind of a cool thing, given how awful Chicago baseball has been the last few seasons, to have both these guys in town...and Baez and Rizzo and all the other young'uns...
What is your respect/hate ratio for both the Cardinals and Packers?
Mike Wilbon (2:52 PM)
Great pairing. I've lived my entire life hating and admiring each. Notice, I didn't say "respect" I said admire...
Irsay - 6 games and $500K fine - good enough in the mind of the players?
Mike Wilbon (2:54 PM)
I would think so. It took long enough, but it seems like a punishment that's tough enough without being over the top of wimpy. I certainly didn't think Goodell was going to give irsay anything longer than six to eight games...So, there we are.
"Be as good as RG3"? Actually he isn't very good by NFL standards, at least not yet. He's certainly not a top 15 QB right now.
Mike Wilbon (2:55 PM)
As RG3 was as a rookie, which is the context of the question. You think RG3 wasn't any good as a rookie? Really?
I am certainly not an NFL scout and make no claims as such. From a football standpoint, there seems to be a legitimate argument as to whether or not Sam should be on a roster. What makes no sense to me is the reports of GMs fearing signing him because of the media circus. The only two "distractions" regarding Sam I can recall this summer were CREATED by the media (Dungy and Josina Anderson). Michael Sam seems to have been a model teammate. If these reports are true, then these fearful GMs are either total cowards or looking for any excuse to cover up their homophobia.
Mike Wilbon (2:56 PM)
Well said...Very well said. There's no reason for me to add anything. I'm nodding with you in agreement on this particular point.
It doesn't matter if Sam played better than the NY Giant 7th rounder that made the team. He was a Ram and they cut him. And btw the Rams are stacked on the DL. No one else drafted him in the first 6+ rounds so they didn't like him either. To say he's being discriminated only furthers an agenda. It's not based on any proof.
Mike Wilbon (2:57 PM)
And you have proof there's an agenda? You have proof this is only about football? No, you don't have anything either. That's why I said earlier this entire discussion is subjective. But I'm publishing this question because it reflects about half the questions on Sam I'm getting, while the previous comment reflects the other 50 percent.
With Chi and Cle being the favorites in the east how much is Chi going to miss Deng considering he played James pretty well.
Mike Wilbon (3:02 PM)
Very much. The Bulls don't have a veteran "3" who can play both ways anywhere close to what Deng could do. Mike Dunleavy can effectively spread the floor but he's not a 2-way player and can't bother LeBron at the defensive end at all. I think McDermott will, if he's as good as projected, play his way into being the starting 2 for the Bulls but to be Deng-like he'd have to average 18 points (or thereabout), lead the team in minutes played, be a terrific defender and a great guy teammates adore...Look, McDermott may be a beast...He's a load, he is physical and knows how to play...But still, the Bulls will miss Deng, yes.
Mike Wilbon (3:04 PM)
Okay, gotta run to prepare for PTI. Thanks for jumping back in post-Labor Day...Looking forward to our weekly interactions after the summer break. See you next Monday after Week 1 of the NFL and Week 2 of college football...very fired up for this weekend in sports...Have a great week everybody! See you Monday...MW