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In Wilbon's World

Chat House: The Addition

Each week I'll post a few questions I didn't get to during The Chat House and respond to them in depth. Today's topics: Tom Cable, Wizards basketball and of course, the Skins.

New Orleans: What do you think of the whole Tom Cable thing in Oakland?

MW: If it is determined that Tom Cable, the Raiders head coach, indeed broke an assistant's jaw in an attack then he should at the very least be suspended. I don't care if the Raiders take care of the discipline or the NFL steps in; he'd better be suspended. No league with credibility can suspend players for such actions but let a coach, the man in charge and an officer of the team, go unpunished. What's been described sounds like assault. This isn't the same as two players getting into it, in a physically competitive environment where aggressive confrontation is expected. There's no such expectation in the workplace, in corporate offices. Cable, if this is true, needs to be punished and it needs to be more of a crack across the face than a slap on the wrist.

Washington, D.C.: Rock Cartwright said today that the Redskins are the best team in the NFL "on paper." Do you think this sort of delusion and feeling of entitlement is part of what's holding them back? I see a slightly below average quarterback, an aging running back, some underperforming receivers, and a wheezing defense. What paper is he looking at?

MW: Of course, it's delusional. But that's been part of the problem at Redskins Park for years now. And here's what a lot of players miss all the time, regardless of the sport they play: talent, perceived or real, doesn't guarantee jack. First of all, some players don't even appreciate subtle talents that help a team. And second, many of them can't properly assess what the talent level is. Most things about the Redskins are average, a little better or a little worse. The QB hasn't proven to be any more than average at best. The offensive line is below average. The receivers are below average. The backs are above average. Some elements of the defense are above average...Certain parts of the team, like the OL, are too old. Let's just say, despite what Rock Cartwright thinks, that I haven't run across any players who are walking around talking about how talented the Washington Redskins are...But to be fair to Mr. Cartwright, it's okay that he looks around his locker room and sees guys he thinks can play. It's just that overstating it doesn't help anybody.

Alexandria, Va.: Seems to me the Wizards will be much, much improved this year with Gilbert back, the new coach in place and some other off-season acquisitions they made. How would you assess their chances to (a) make it to the playoffs this year, and (b) advance beyond the first round? And do you think there's any chance we could see them in the NBA Finals in the next three years?

MW: It's getting to be that time, isn't it? The NBA season begins two weeks from Friday. The Washington Wizards ought to be better with Gilbert Arenas and Brendan Haywood in the lineup than they were without them. Yes, they should be a playoff team, but I don't know that I have them higher than, oh, sixth. Who's better in the East? Cleveland, Boston, Orlando, Philly, Chicago, Detroit...Maybe Miami. I think Toronto, with Hedo Turkoglu, could make a quantum leap into the top half of the conference...Goodness, that would leave the Wizards out of the playoffs. They're no lock to make it. I think Cleveland, Boston, Orlando, Philly are locks to be ahead of the Wizards, which puts them no higher than fifth. The Bulls could slip quite a bit without Ben Gordon, but we'll see. The Finals in the next three years? No. Nope. Sorry, can't see it. They'd have to get Gilbert Arenas all the way back to his form of three, four years ago, and have the McGee kid blossom, which is possible...Either a free agent signing or a trade or getting lucky in the draft would have to benefit the Wizards to get them past all those teams to the Finals...even the conference finals. If LeBron leaves via free agency and the Celtics get old and Orlando is diminished without Turkoglu (which I suspect could happen), then it would open up some room at the very top...But the Wizards have so much to work through. I think making the playoffs this year would be a nice accomplishment and a good place to re-start.

Annapolis, Md.: OK Mike, let's get past all the screaming and fretting and name-calling and blaming that you'll be responding to here ... let's say Danny puts you in charge, no interference and plenty of money: What are the first three moves you make?

MW: I'd go to Indy and offer Bill Polian, the architect of incredibly successful teams in Buffalo, Carolina and Indy (I might have forgotten someplace) whatever he wanted to come to Washington. I'd have him sign a contract that says the owner is to have no contact other than on game days or at official team charity events with any players. Polian would make all decisions related to football, since he built the Bills teams that went to four Super Bowls, the Panthers team that went to the NFC title game in its second or third season, and the Colts teams that went from 3-13 to the Super Bowl. You want me to throw money after somebody? I'd throw it at Polian, five times the NFL executive of the year and currently the president of the Colts, not some defensive tackle...I'd pay Polian $10 million, $20 million...whatever it took to get him because he's proven in a way nobody else is.

Chapel Hill, N.C.: Hey Mike, Random sports journalism question: Which do you enjoy more and why: Writing your column for the Post or co- hosting PTI??

MW: As you might imagine writing a column and hosting a television show are very, very different endeavors. Preparation for the two overlaps quite a bit, which enables me to do both. If you ask me which I'm better at, I still think it's writing a column, since I've done that since 1988 (full-time since 1990) while I've co-hosted PTI with Tony Kornheiser since the fall of 2001...It'll sound like a cop-out, saying I love them both, but I do. Some days, after writing a column about some important news story or development I think to myself, "There's nothing I love doing more than that..." And then two days later, I'll have the same thought after a big Sunday of pro football with lots of controversy, or during the NBA playoffs when I'm on the road and attended some compelling game the night before (like that Celtics-Bulls series last May)...I admit it; I do compare the two myself all the time, in fact. And I cannot bring myself to pick one over the other. Five years ago, I'd have told you it was writing the column. But co-hosting PTI has become very much a part of who I am and not just something I do...It takes time to feel that way about something but 200 shows a year for 8 years has apparently done that.


Michael Wilbon

 |  October 13, 2009; 10:18 AM ET  |  Category:  NBA , NFL , Redskins , The Chat House , Wizards Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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