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Huddle Up with Gus
Huddle Up with Gus

Episode · 8 months ago

Michael Wilbon

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Joining me in the Huddle this week is the Co-Host of Pardon the Interruption on ESPN, Michael Wilbon. We talk about growing up in Chicago and perfecting his craft on the family couch, his time spent at Northwestern, and how he landed an internship at The Washington Post. 

Michael's love for Chicago sports still runs deep in his veins, but DC is a close second. He loves the Cubs, and when we started talking about some HOFers like, Ernie Banks his face lit up. He, of course, loves Da Bears too, but we push them aside and talk about the days of RFK Stadium and the Washington Football Team. Please, someone, help give them a new name!!!!!!

PTI has been running for 20 years thanks to Michael's dynamics pitted against the oft-maligned Tony Kornheiser. They make it a great show because of the push-pull of opinions they have regarding sports. Michael tells us the way PTI started and who made it all happen. 

Thank you for joining me on the show, Michael! 

...welcome to what surely will be a doozyof a matchup. Brian. Here, sports fans. Whether your game is on the gridiron,at the diamond or on the links, we can only say, Mm hmm, mhm. Welcome to thisweek's huddle up with gusts. 15 year NFL quarterback Gus parents' passionfor sports has taken him on the field and behind the bench is playing forseven NFL franchises with 114 TVs under his belt. Gus knows who the players areand how the games are. One. Uh, it's not every day you get to hang out withan NFL quarterback up. Okay, sports fans from the decked out and plush 1631 digital studios. It's kick off time, so snap your chin straps on and getready to huddle up with us with two left. Hey, everyone, welcome to anotherepisode of Head Up with Gus. I'm your host, Gus Frerotte, 15 year NFLquarterback, and I want to welcome you well. This is not my studio, but the 1631 digital news studio. They're my partners. I'm really happy to be withthem, and then also I want to thank sounder FM for hosting my podcast. Uh,today I have an amazing guest, somebody who who wrote a lot about me when Iplayed for the Washington Redskins. I always liked him better than the guy.He's kind of coasting with. Quebec Guy was a little harder on me, but comingin today as my guest is Michael Wilbon. He's been an ESPN commentator and aformer sports writer for The Washington Post. I mean, it's just for since 1980you've been there and now he's an analyst for ESPN. He's he's a co hoston Pardon the interruption. Uh, since 2000 and one. So, Michel, it's great totalk to talk to you and actually figure out your life, because that's whatwe're gonna do today. So thank you for joining me on. Huddle up with Gus. Gus,man, it is good to see what I first got the call. I was like, I knew that youwere doing a podcast. I don't know that I knew that it talked about the originof sports and people's lives, but I I was thrilled to hear it has been toolong. Uh and yeah, man. I mean, it's sort of like parallel growing upperiods in, in, in professional football. You did the real hard work,and I just looked I was a voyeur looking into people like you every week.And I listen, I was at some other games after you left Washington, Um, goodness,playoff games, even a couple of times as I still cover the NFL. So it's justgreat, uh, to catch up with you again like this. This is really cool. Well,thank you. You know, and we all take different paths, but we all kind ofhave similar beginnings, right? I talked to to Ricky Williams this weekas well, uh, or last week for the show. And, you know, we all just kind of havethese crazy beginnings, and sports is always ingrained in most of us. So tellme from the time when you were little, that you can remember back to where youfell in love with sports and when how that happened, it could have beenfamily. Or you could have had a great idol. I mean, there were a lot inChicago at that time. So tell me about growing up and how you fell in lovewith sports because it was. It was a combination, and you just hit it. Younailed it. Um, it was family. I mean, my dad, uh, raised my brother and me.It's just the two of us. My my brother, who's 2.5 years younger, and the threeof us were on a cell phone screaming and hollering about sports from thetime I can remember. And the funny thing is, now my wife will say when my12 year old son and I are screaming at each other Well, you guys pipe down.We're like, No, we're never gonna pipe down. This is how this is how I grew up.This is how you know this life was formed. And so for me, the earliestmemories are I think there they're kind of two different things. I was fiveyears old when the Chicago Bears won their championship. The last one beforethe Super Bowl, 1963 was not a championship. It was a championship,not a Super Bowl. And it was not with...

Gale Sayers and Dick Butkus. And I onlyhave vague memories of it. You know, memories of some of the place MikeDitka was on that team as a starting tight end. But it was that, and it wasthen embracing the Chicago Cubs of Ernie Banks and Billy Williams and RonSanto and Fergie Jenkins and those guys and that that took me because, you know,teams stay together, then players didn't unless they got traded. Therewas no free agency. Um, and I grew up watching those guys play together onthe same team from the time I was, I don't know, four when I can remember 45until I was a teenager. I mean, you know, Ernie Banks played until I was 13.Billy Williams played until I was 16 or 17. Ron Santo, Fergie Jenkins and I gotto know them as as adults, which has scored sort of scary, you know, to meetyour to meet your idols. But it was that, Gus it was. It was embracingthose teams when I was a kid. And, you know, I thought I was going to be thenext first basement of the Chicago Cubs, and when I figured out that wasn'thappening, I was a good baseball player. Was a good baseball player through highschool, probably could have played small college baseball certainly couldnot play Big 10 baseball. I was not that good was never gonna be that good,but I married my two interests, You know, sports and and and writingcommunicating. And that's, you know, very basic way of how I got to thispoint. But those those points that you asked me about, I remember them prettyvividly from the time I was 56 years old and certainly more vividly as I gotolder. So what was your neighborhood like? A lot of people tell storiesabout their neighborhoods, right? We don't see this today, to be honest, butgoing out, like in my neighborhood where I grew up in out outside ofPittsburgh, was you were on a bike. You were going to get a ball. You weredoing something out in the neighborhood all the day like your parents didn'twant you home, right? What was that like for you? So, like, I think I'velearned about traveling and covering sports over the country is that there'ssome communities that are very much alike. Pittsburgh and Chicago or two ofthem, right? I've learned that from friends who grew up in Pittsburgh andjust time spent. Um, I was on a bike. I played. We played baseball every day.Now we played. There was seasonal stuff. We played tackle football withoutequipment without helmets. We did that. We played baseball. It seemed like 150days a year, which is hard in Chicago. We played when he got cold. I'm sureyou play. We got cold in Pittsburgh. I know you did. We did all the same stuffwith total disregard of weather. Um, I played everything. There was no soccerin the 19 sixties when I was a little kid. Uh, there was very little, um Igrew up playing tennis. I skated, so we played hockey. We froze upon in thewinter. Um, I played golf was not on the menu, but everything else was. Andso we played more baseball than anything else. That was our first love.When you're my age, which is to say, 62 years old, baseball was your first love.And then everything else fell in line after that. Probably football for us.And then basketball, um, horseshoes, table tennis, tennis, everything.Everything. You had to play and play outside every day and I didn't want youhome. So when you said that, I started laughing because, you know, I mean, Iknow I'm at least a decade older than you, but I suspect we grew up very muchthe same way in terms of the parks the kids, like you knew by 12 or 13, whowas going to be really good. I can stay on the field and get chosen fairlyearly on for every game. But I knew who was really good. You know, I knew thekids who are gonna be playing Division one college basketball. Uh, play playedminor league baseball. I wasn't one of them. I could play with them, but thathad to be done. Man, I It sounds like we grew up pretty much the same way. Oh,yeah. I mean, we you give us a wolf, a bottle and one of those yellow bats,You go all day, no question, and you...

...can have a little area. It didn'tmatter of home run fence. That's all you needed. We played home run fenceover the tennis court fence, and I mean, I don't mean the tennis court net. Imean, the fence, which was 14 ft high. Maybe. And we play coed. It's so funny.Like people talk about now, you know you need a title. Nine. You need allthese official things to bring to force, you know, schools and institutions toallow young women to play girls and young women. We didn't have anybodyneeded to force that. We did that. Naturally, the boys had to bet on theopposite side. We played with the girls, and I'm talking about from eight yearsold to 18. And so I got to be a pretty proficient hit her from the left sidebecause we had to play. We played with the girls. I had to battle Lefty beinga natural writing, and we But we did. Everybody played, everybody had toparticipate. And if that wasn't your best sport, and I bet this was the wayyou guys did it because you still have to play any better. But I guess, sport,it wasn't your best support. You still have to participate, but yeah, you know,And the thing was, is that we all knew there were different levels ofeverybody out there. You you just you had what you had in your neighborhoodor your town and you all played together and we never made anybody feellike they were terrible. We just all wanted to play, right. I had anotherquestion for you, though you're talking about you had to switch from right toleft, e you know, and all that. And I know you're a cubs fan. Who is your Whois who Who did you try to emulate when you were right handed swinger and whois your left handed swing? Because I know you did. When you stood up therein that will football bat, you had your stance and your swing. Who was? I'msitting right here next to my jersey. If I could turn the screen, I would. Ihave Ernie Banks, 1969 jersey. Um, heavy wall. Um, you know what? It's avisiting jersey with the gray and the blue Chicago on the front number 14.And I imitated Ernie Banks and he always did the fingers like this, youknow? And it was high stated. The bat was held high in his his hands on theright handed stance and the left handed stance. It was Rod Karoo. I don't evenknow why It's Rod. Karen Nothing. Chicago I just like Barad Karoo stand.It was back. The bat was back. So the motion when he came through And, ofcourse, rock ruin like six batting titles. But yeah, so those wereprobably my favorite batting stances. But you knew them all right? Like Iknew Roberto Clementi stance. I knew Willie Stargell stance on the left side.I know. Oh, man, That was part of what westudied back there that I'm sure you did that as well. So those were the twoand they come to mind immediately. Well, you know, and it's crazy. We didn'thave, like, we couldn't sit there on the phone and and watch them over andover. But we would watch some games on TV because we didn't have any money togo to a pirate game. We lived an hour from Pittsburgh, and my dad was like,Yeah, we're not you know what I mean? We have more important things that gowatch. But we watched them on TV and we listened to them all the time, and youjust you only had to watch really started a couple times to get thatswing down. It was, you know, that's exactly right. Where they used to beatthe cubs like a drum most of my life, I have plenty of time to get it. You knowwhat, though? Because I had a paper route. As a kid, I have money to go togames. Oh, really? Yeah. And so we went to you guys have to trade. You can takeeverything going Train? That's exactly right. If you wanted to take a train inPittsburgh, you had to write on top of coal doing that. We We got very luckyin that. Comiskey, uh, to go see the White Sox was about a eight minutetrain ride. That's all it was going to make me feel was longer. But by thetime I had that route, we did both, and I would I would buy it, just sort offoreshadowing. I would buy box seats in the upper deck so I could look rightdown on the action. And those are my...

...favorite seats. And it turned out to belike the press box seats I had as a grown man. I wanted to be in the upperdeck looking down those seats cost eight bucks and my son says to me now,Dad, why do we always sit up here? I'm like, because these are the seats I hadwhen I was a kid and damn it, we're sitting in the same seats every time wecome to wriggle. Yeah, and you know, that's amazing, because I always feelthe same way. Like my dad talks about going to games when it used to beForbes Field here in Pittsburgh, and I never got to experience that. I alwayswanted to. Now it's like we're on. We're on our third stadium, you know?Pittsburgh Stadium is beautiful. You see the city downtown, everything. Butit would have just been amazing to go and watch a game at Forbes feel. I feellike Chicago is so lucky that they have kept Wrigley Field for so long. I feelthe same way. And so, you know, in the playoffs, even when they before 2000and 16, I would say that my son who went I would say, Hey, Babe Ruth playedon this field. Luke Garrett played on this field. You know, Willie Maysplayed on this field and we still go there now and you still have a sense ofthat. And you're right. Gus and I was old enough to see games at Forbes ontelevision. I never I never got to Forbes, which is sort of a bad thingbecause I got to Cleveland Municipal. I got to Detroit and all those stadiumswere kind of a set right, and I feel Forbes is the only one I did. I did. Iget to Crossley. I think I did get to Crossley. So Forbes was like the onlystadium is sort of the Rust Belt of the United States of the old originalstadiums. Maybe not original, but very old that I didn't get to. And so I hearyou on that. But I feel that connectedness when I go to Wrigleybecause it's the same field. It's the same walls with ivy. It's the samestuff. I saw Henry Aaron playing my first game as a kid going to Wrigley,and I'm very much, um, I feel that when I when I go to the place and I still gothere now, well, it's crazy when you talk to these names because so Icollect vintage baseball cards and I have all these guys write all these oldcards and through covid. My sons were home because gonna, uh, graduate fromWilliam and Mary, but they didn't have a graduation. They just basicallykicked everybody else school and gave us home from Delaware. So they got intothe cards with me, and it was It's been awesome ever since. But I can see thatpicture of Ernie Banks, like on the card. And I'm sure you collect. You hadsome of those when you did, right, Hank Aaron? All Roberto Clementi growsClementa. Yes, I had all the great players in the sixties. Yeah, andGunner gave love like all the new guys, right? Because they know all theplayers, the basketball players, the football players now and everything.Baseball is not as as much anymore, but they said, Dad, why do you like allthese old cards? I said, because they're not making anymore. And theseguys kind of started. It was just something about listen to a pyre game,my dad's transistor radio that when I see those players, it just brings backmemories. It's amazing. I am. I did that into the eighties. I listened tothe first time the club's gotten in the postseason 1984 of my life because theywent from 45 to 84 without being in the playoffs. With it being the postseason,I would go out and sit in the car in Washington, D. C. And Upper Northwest,DC Gus, I would go out and sit and listen to Harry Carey. Uh, got thepostseason 84. And I tell my son is he looked at me and she said, Dad, I don'tbelieve that I'm like we believe it, you little punk. I did. I went and gotand sat in the car. And so I know that, you know, it's I know our sons, youknow? It sounds like you were describing my kid, too, You know, heknows every NFL and every NBA player. He knows some some major leaguebaseball players because we go to a lot of Cubs games. He loves it and he goesto nationals games, too. But baseball...

...does not the fabric of their lives likeit was for us. Yeah, and actually, it's been great because my son's got to knowa lot of these players because the cards that we've been collectingbecause that businesses exploded, right? I mean, when you were talking about thestadiums, like these older stadiums, I feel like I got to be a part of that atRFK. Like tradition. Right, That tradition. I felt like God, I got toyou know, all these great players came before me in Washington. You got thereport on a lot of them and write stories about going to RFK was It'sstill my favorite place I've ever played. Well, you know, it's reallyweird. Um, so I got here in 1980 so I had 16 years of RFK. And then sincethen, since 97 I think, um, it's been, you know, it's I mean, it'sunbelievable. 25 years it's been this the stadium out in in P. G County and Ididn't grow up with RFK, but my wife did, and her father took her there to watch. Youknow, everybody from Bobby Mitchell. Funny, you know, through through JohnRiggins and and even through what Brian Mitchell Brian Brian must have playedfour or five years at three or four years anyway, um, at RFK before he hadto move Darrell green, and it's interesting. Um, I'll tell you a quickstory. So when the Dallas Cowboys came back to Washington in 97 and they hadto take a bus out to the stadium that Jack can cook built, they're stillusing, um, Evan Smith asked the bus driver if they could drive by RFK. Andso many guys on there were a few guys on the bus that they had, you know, itdidn't mean anything, but it meant something. Emmitt Smith to go to thisvisiting stadium and and And it was telling me the story after the gamethat day because he knew it meant something to me. He knew it meantsomething to anybody who had spent time in that stadium. And while it wasn't mystadium, there's no way I didn't appreciate the way of rock. And youremember how it bounced. Scared the hell out of you. Sometimes we havebounced, But yeah, man, there was so many, uh, great players are great gamesin that place. Um, and it's never been replaced, you know, it's never beenreplaced in the new stadium. There haven't been as many famous games, um,and crusades. If you will in that stadium as it were. And are they tookall the I think the spirit. Uh, I don't know what you want to call it out ofthat RFK. It's like you said the bleachers were bouncing. The band wasplaying. The hog gets were there, right? Like there was just so much, you know,I'd go on to feel like when I would pull in the stadium. They actually letme park on the stadium when I was playing there. I don't know why theydid it, but Sam hoppers, of course, Sam Huff used to meet me under the stadiumwhen Annie and I would pull in and Abby was a little baby and he would get herout of this car car seat and he'd carry her around and take anti door seats.And I was like, That's Sam Huff doing that, you know what I mean? And thenSonny would be out June a cigar and like, it was just I never had anexperience, even though I played a lot of places and had some great memories,never had another experience like that. So you've been a writer for the Postfor so long, right? You were for from like, Yeah, um, and you had to havesome amazing experiences. So tell me about when you first started at thePost and were you nervous? What was that? What you mean you're coming fromthe middle school? You're like, man, I'm fresh. I'm out of I'm ready to go.And so what was it like? Did you get humbled? Because, you know, we all havethose moments. Yeah, I was, um I was terrified. I thought, you know, uh, thenight before I started the night before...

...my first day as an intern, I went tosee the movie All the president's Men, which was, you know, four years old bythen. But I hadn't seen it somehow. And then you walk into the building thenext day and have the post look exactly like that to get up on the fifth floorelevator. And I were wearing a suit, you know, wool suit in the middle ofsummer, Little June 1 of the 92 degree days in D. C. With 113% humidity andscenery. And yeah, I was nervous as hell. Uh, and what made me more nervouswas that there's a, uh, the person who was in charge of the internship program,a man I came to know quite well named Tom Wilkinson. He was supposed to takeall 20 interns to lunch, and he got he was sick or something that day and hecouldn't take us to lunch. And they said, Okay, well, Tom Wilkinson, whoAll of us have gotten to know a little bit to the communication from school tomove in Washington. He can't take your lunch. So you're going to have lunchwith Bob Woodward. And it was like, Oh, my God, firstlunches with Bob, Um and he somehow made us at least me. I was notterrified by the end of lunch, but it was It was the greatest experience ofmy life and the most important one, because after that internship, you knowthat that's that's being a first round draft pick and, yeah, going. I wentback to school, finish my senior year model, but that made me confident. Probably tooconfident, just probably too damn cocky. You know, I thought I could conquer theworld because I was getting job offers from everywhere. While I was a seniorat Northwestern. I was getting, you know, I had the Miami Herald call, andI had to, you know, the Atlanta Constitution. I mean, I had job offers,and so I walked around as a senior in college, like I was, you know, a bigman on campus. But that summer was both terrifying at first. Um, luckily, Ididn't have a humiliating experience like I could have the next summer. I didhave one. I got locked in the RFK. I was covering a game. A big high schoolAll star game. The lights went out because I was the only person writingfor a big newspaper. I got trapped in RFK until, like, two in the morning. Sothere's my hungry. But I it meant everything has shaped my life, goingforward to be able to then come back to the post the start as a full timereporter. I worked there for 30 years, which set me up for everything I havedone since. Well, obviously, model got you ready for the big time. So tell mewho was your mentor? Who was that person and the deal that that reallykind of pave that way or was helped. You kind of get to where you are today.Well, actually, it's really before that. It was, uh uh, See, when I was in highschool, so I think Nations College prep a little Jesuit school in Chicago. Um,where you were tearing it up on the baseball field. I was. I was prettygood on that. Was pretty good at baseball. Then what position you play?I pitched and played first base. Nice, um, pitched and play first base in mymost memorable game. Sadly, was the morning after prom I had to get in thebed after prominent about 2 30 with a morning game against Quigley South, Um,and I pitched a one hitter, but walked the bases loaded, giving a sac fly andlost the game. So my my my my greatest pitch game in high school was an L. ButI, um James James Wall was my, uh He was my journalist. You talk English lit,and I'm one of those weird kids. I guess you knew which way my life wasgoing on the fork in the road because I loved English lit. That teacher wascrazy and theatric, and I still loved him. And then I had him for journalismwhen I was a junior or senior. And then...

...he wrote my recommendation letter toNorthwestern, and so I had a I mean, I had a crew of teachers, professionals,people who were working professionals at the time, like Bill Dallas, who wasa sportswriter of the tribute at the time. Um, and I had a lot of peoplethat we're tough enough and good enough and smart enough demanding enough thenI feel like they have more than taught me their coach to me. Yeah, I felt thatthat was what I took that seriously. I'm not sure I took everything else asseriously as I should have, because that took that seriously and they theygot me ready. So they get you ready and you talked about. It's like, you know,it's like being in the NFL. It's like the first round draft pick to go to thepost and have that internship. But you're from Chicago and you're atNorthwestern. Did you have an opportunity like that that that one ofthe papers there in Chicago offer you a job? Sadly, Gus, both the papers thereturned me down. Um, So you know how I felt when the Steelers never took? Yes.Okay. Oh, my God. It's so funny. You mention that because I grew up delivering. From the time Iwas 11 from 11 to 18, I had a paper route. I got up at five o'clock everysingle morning, meaning 365 days a year with my brother. We we delivered theChicago Tribune and the Chicago sometimes, and all I ever wanted was towork for one of them. That's all I ever wanted. And when I was at McGillinterviewing with both of them as a senior, they both said, You don't haveenough experience. You got to go somewhere and work five years, fiveyears, come back. So two years into my time at TheWashington Post, the editor who told me that, um, Ialmost thought of her name, and I just drew a blank. Who said you gotta gofive years? You know, you can't work here at the Tribune. Um, she called me.I remember sitting at my desk getting a call. Mike, can you hope the ChicagoTribune? I don't know. Yeah, and I'm like, What do they want? Do they wantme to get a subscription? Because, I mean, you know what they want. And shesaid, um, God, I can't think I just almost start her name again. She said,We want you to come home. We made a mistake. You should be here. It's been2.5 years. Usually come home and I go Wait. I wasn't a math major, but I know2.5 85 right? And so they won, You know, they offered me a job and I said no. Um,and I stayed at the post and I stayed at the Post. You know, my wholenewspaper career. I came very close to leaving, Um, in in 1997. I came veryclose to going home, but that's what I wanted, Gus. I wanted to work for thepapers I delivered and they were like, Yeah, whatever. Well, I was the sameway. I always wanted to play for the Steelers. I can imagine. Yeah, you know,there's probably a good thing that didn't happen because I have too manycrazy family members here that would probably, you know, even When I camehome, it was tickets, like out the wazoo, so I can't even imagine whatthat was. So okay, with the Washington football team, we have to call it nowto be correct. You Did you play a road game in Pittsburgh when you when yourecorded back here? Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. You couldn't turn off your phoneback then. You just had to take the call. So you know how crazy Steelerfans are. So I have family members are that crazy? And when I played here, Iget my family tickets. And after the game, when I go out to see them, youknow, at the parking lot before we go on the bus, my wife's all upset. I'mlike, What? You know what the heck is going on? And I turned around and lookand like my family members have like, Steelers jerseys on and not my jersey.And she was like, living like she was so upset. But that's just kind of howit is. I was kind of laughing, but...

...still a little angry, But what are yougonna do? You know what I mean? What are you gonna do? So so you have thisgreat experience at the Post. You know, you've done so many things. You were onwith Jordan. I remember you used to be on with George. Michael got arrested,Soul, uh, you know, used to do stuff with John Riggins and Sunny, but also,you've done so much basketball like, Well, how did you get into basketball?And I kind of understand your your football side, but tell me about yourbasketball story. Well, listen, I you know, I was one of those people. I wasvery lucky. And that the SportsCenter of the post. George Solomon. Whenever Igot comfortable, he thought I got comfortable covering one thing. It wasgonna movie over here, right? And so when I got older, he would say, I'mdoing this because I want your your comfort level to increase. I don't wantyou to be afraid to move around, especially I was. One of those guys isjust like we talked about playing everything. I mean, when you were greatenough athlete to be a professional quarterback. I know damn well you musthave been a pretty good point guard or shooting guard. One or the other. Whichone was it? Oh, no. I was the big guy underneath. I was 65 was the biggestkid in my class. That's right. That's right. That's right. Okay. So perfectexample, though. You can play everything. Everything. Did we not?Yeah, I played everything. I thought I understood everything. And the only wayI kind of did was that George would say, Okay, you're gonna You're gonna gocover the bullets now and back then you can cover one thing. You've coveredmultiple things, and I don't know that I ever I got in the business to cover baseball.And the irony is, I did cover baseball covered Cal Ripken and Eddie Murray andthose Orioles teams when there wasn't Washington. But I covered a lot ofbasketball. I mean, I would be around when Wes Unseld was coaching, he hadretired, maybe 82. So I got to see a little of West playing. Got to see moreof him coaching. Got to cover Big John Thompson and Georgetown got to coverLefty Frizzell in Maryland. I missed the Big East and, well, you know howgreat was the Big East when we were When? When you and I were following it.Well, I was all in pit. Right pit Giant ST John. Oh, my God. Believe me. CoachEvans, who coasted Navy. He coached David Robinson before he went to pit.So I got to know him. You know really well, I got to be in some of thosegames with Jerome Lane and, uh, you know Charles Smith? I mean, I wouldn'ttrust, because you can, um What was the pit? Yeah, Who decides your own lane?Yeah. There are so many just just great games. Terrific players that that Iloved it. So basketball was always a twin part. Oncefootball season was over, you went to basketball and I loved them. I'm gonnasay equally, and it just what? It's a great question. You asked what got meto embrace basketball even more? And yes, I you know, that became obviouslythe focus. And away from I was a Hall of Fame voter for 10 years for profootball. 1996 2 oh, six. But then football, which, of course, is the mostpopular form of sporting entertainment in America. It was harder. It was. It was easy totalk to guys like yourself But it was harder. Big stars became harder whenyou got to the late nineties and the early arts, and I don't mean the imageSmith in Detroit Aikman's you know, um, who dominated, obviously that period inthe nineties, and Darryl Greene, who became one of my better friends in lifeand and and be Mitch and and and And who was in my and Rick Doc. There's somany Redskins that I got to know personally. But around the league, Gus,it got to be heard. The frenzy of media right, the time demanded. Butbasketball remained a sport where even...

...the biggest of the big stars wereaccessible. So I have never had a one on one long conversation with Tom Brady.Never, never, By the way, it's funny, I was gonna say to tie it into aPittsburgh athlete, but I've had many with Ben, so I can't extend that to theSteelers, who have a spot for, because I got to know all those guys. But inbasketball, I mean I mean, I sat around and I still stoodaround and have a cigar with Charles Barkley. Oh, yeah, you wrote books withthem. I have. I've worked with those guys. It was magic. But even beforethat, the relationships were forged When I was working right and thatbecame different about basketball and I was like, Wow, I can sit and talk toPat Riley. Even if he's mad at me that day, we can have an hour conversation.Yeah, and it was like the access was so vast, so easy. Well, uh, not interruptyou, but football always their rules and regulations and stringent like they've always been the worst, right?I've had friends who've played hockey. I've had friends who played, You know,I've been to some basketball, some baseball, like they're a little morelenient, like about people coming in visiting time with, you know, football.Is this like bam, bam, bam! In and out. Like remember, I played a game andGunners favorite player was Brentford, right? Not me. Business bread fire. Hecomes in Minnesota in place, and and so I'm waiting after with him and theywouldn't even let me go in their locker room with Gunnar to see him. He had Ihad to wait outside and I'm like I just played against them And the matters howrules are. And I'm like a starting quarterback in this league for X amountof time. But see, that's just so so. My son. He's never been in an NFL lockerroom, even though Yeah, you know what? Larry Fitzgerald mad at me for notletting him take Matthew. And so there's a couple of instances, but ButI grew up with Larry's dad, but I know Larry's dad, too. In the in, the in,the in the equivalent situation inbasketball. John Wall during playoff games has taken my son in the lockerroom at halftime. It's insane, right? It's just the culture, the differentcultures, different sports. It doesn't mean one is better than the other. Butwhen the access is that and you do what I do and God knows I had access, I meanagain, the people like Darrell and mentioned Doc and, you know, Sunny andyou mentioned me working with Sonny and Rygel, which is a lifetime highlight.But basketball, Um wow. I mean, during off days in the middle of the NBAFinals, you could wind up having dinner, you know, as I've had with Kobe Bryant,you wind up sitting, having dinner, and it's a different access. And what itdoes is allows the storytelling that you can have people like Peter King andthe people who have worked hard to forge better access in football and andand it's evident by the storytelling they're able to pull off. I knowSchefty and there's an access they have, right? I found for me that happenedmore. Maybe because the guys I knew when I was coming up younger, likeMagic and Michael Charles Well, I think about that call. You got 2.5 years intoyour time at the Post, and then the bulls go on this crazy running in theeighties. And I wonder if you think back and say, Maybe I should have takenthat because I could have been in that bull locker room every day. Well, youknow what? You know what, guys? Um, I got to see it from a nationalperspective, not the local. Because, just as you point out, because I didn'tsay yes, I didn't go back. But I got to...

...see from a national perspective. Andthat way you're not as close. And I'm not having to ask Michael and Scottieand Phil and about the minutia. Right. And that stuff gets irritating. I knowI would be irritated. And I love the fact that nationally, you know, you're,like, flying over and from 30,000 ft, you can ask all the big picture stuff.It allows the relationship to be different, and so that's a great That'sa great question. Um, you asked, and I think I'm glad that the way I playedout, right? Right. So now you've done I mean, obviously you're a columnist. Nowyou're on the s. You've done a lot of ESPN. You do all that commentating, andthen you start to show in 2000 and one. What was the premise and why youstarted? Uh, pardon the interruption, because a guy named Mark Shapiro wascrazy enough to think that Tony and I could do what we do in print, which youalready knew about people. Only people in Washington knew because I mean, thatnobody else knew. I mean, and then we started to do He thought we could dowhat we do locally nationally, and he said, the first thing I'm gonna do whenI'm named producer of something is I'm gonna put you guys on TV. And I said,the second thing you're gonna do is get your ass fired. You of us put the twoof us on. What are you talking about? And he did it and he had faith in it,and we didn't necessarily, But it worked. So it we Gus, we were notlooking to do that. We were looking to do what we continue to do. What we doWhen you when you knew us and saw us every week, we were looking to do thattill, you know, until they threw us out. Right? Well, that's what I just toldsomebody who told somebody is going to interview you. And they said, Well,well, you know, And they were talking about the show. And I said, You know,hey, Tony wasn't a fan of mine. It wasn't a fan of his whatever, and And Isaid, Well, that's exactly why Michael and he get along because that's whatpeople want to see. They want to see that back and forth, right? Love, hate,whatever you want to call it, and you guys do an outstanding job of that andit makes the show. Interesting, because if there were two Michael Wilbon Nooffense to Michael Wilbon Boring as hell. Enough is interesting. Boring ashell. Let me cut to the chase. Yeah, no, that's That's the yin and the yang.That's what made it. Because people will say to me, You know, I agree withyou more than Tony. If people want to say that Tony, I agree with you morethan wilbon and and you know we all we all watched sports with somebody, right?I mean, we let's face it. My brother, Sister Toni, my brother is 2.5 yearsyounger than me. He's a banker and he just says Tony all the time, I was hisfirst co host and he was because on the couch, Yes, because, Gus, it's not likewe stopped doing it just because I do it on TV. When I get to Chicago and I'min his house for three days or he's coming out to Arizona, we're here in DC to hang out with me. That's what we do. We still do it and it's never gonnastop. Oh, yeah, yeah. So I have one. My son Gunnar wanted me to ask you this.It's and I knew the answer, and I know the answer. But he said, Dad, are yougoing to ask him? Uh, LeBron or Jordan? And I said, Come on, Gunnar, He said, Iknow he's gonna pick Jordan I said, Of course he's going to pick the bestplayer ever and that I have to have a Mount Rushmore, Russell, Magic, JordanLeBron So to me, like I don't like to get in like arguments about their thegreatest players ever with splitting hairs. But you know what? And I saythis to my son, who's a Bulls fan because of his father. But every nowand then, you know, LeBron has been great to him. LeBron has been great tomy son. Every now and then, he will start to argue, and I should say,Maddie, just remember this. Michael Jordan didn't have to leave andgo anywhere to win his championships. He want him right there. It's not Anindictment is not saying anything negative. It just is. LeBron went toMiami and he hooked up with Dwyane Wade,...

...who had already won a championship GoodChicago, South side ER, by the way, another reason I love Wade, but he wentto hook up with two other Hall of Famers, Wade and Chris Bosh. MichaelJordan didn't do that. He stayed right where he was. He took his lumps. He won.And to me that that will always elevate Michael. Not to mention the sixchampionships, one and zero loss. Having said that, LeBron James is awonder. I have never seen him make the wrong play. He has never made the wrongbasketball play in 18 years. It's amazing. It's amazing. He he is anamazing, amazing athlete decision maker, Um, Captain, Leader. And so I you know,just because I think Jordan is the greatest, and by the way, I think magiccould be the greatest on my list. I mean, those are my talk to guys and God.LeBron. There's nothing negative to say about LeBron. No, definitely not. Andwhat he's doing at his age, you know what I mean and making it, because Iremember when I was 38 I'm running sprints with guys that were 22. It's like it's like crazy to see thehow time flies and and young guys just take over things right and LeBron hasstayed right with him. You watch him play. He's a step ahead of him. Still,it's that part is amazing. So the other night we're watching LeBron and Matthewsays Dad, would you agree that LeBron is better at this age or this? Deepinto it, I'm like, Yes, no one has been like LeBron is deep into his career.He's better. This deep than Kareem was. Kareem had a great 38th year. I thinkso. Maybe. Maybe not yet. But LeBron doesn't have any. It doesn't look likethere any signs of him. Uh, you know him And I mean, we've seen someincredible incredible athletes. I mean, him and Brady right now, Yeah, it'sjust amazing to watch, you know. And so you've been on the show now for a longtime. What's What's the plans for Michael Wilbon in the future? It is anyslowing down or we're going to keep moving forward. I LeBron should beinspiration embracing rolling. Um, yeah, I think I I'm just as engaged andpassionate about it. Gus, I still wake up fired up and ready to talk aboutsomething I saw the previous night. or at night. I'm still texting, you know?Well, let's face it. I know you're in them. We all get in these text chainsnow, you know, and my text chains when it when it's bear season may have acouple of Hall of Famers. So on it from Chicago. And May I? I talked about itwith Waddle. It has Tom. Tom Waddell is one of the guys. He's like a footballmentoring me. And so when I'm watching games, I am in it with those guys likeI was 26 years old. Yeah, so I know I'm not going anywhere. I got as Imentioned a couple of times. I got about to turn 13 year old. I got a lotof tuition left, so that means there's no retiring and I love doing this. Ilove doing it. I love going to games. I love watching them. I love theinteraction of locker rooms, um, and being having access to people who canexplain what the hell just happened. And that's a great part of it cominginto the locker room, saying, Gus, what happens here on third and five and whydid you do this? as opposed to taking a screen pass out here to be Mitch. What,Like being on the front row of that is a thrill for me? Still, Yeah. No, it'samazing. You do an unbelievable job. And it that's why there's just so manyawards. There's too many to name that you've won and what everything thatyou've done for the profession for the job. I mean, people love you everywhere.Um, I appreciate you. I appreciate all the times it that you were so nice tome. You might be one of the only people in these, either. Nice. It was easy tobe nice to you. I remember meeting and all those years ago. I mean, you guyswere You're still a youngster, as far as I'm concerned. Oh, my God. She justWell, I'm not gonna hurt, but I'm turning 50 in July, so time flies,right? It does. Yeah. So, Michael, one...

...last thing before I know you got to go.But tell our fans you know where they can catch you if they can follow youanywhere. If you're on social media. Yeah, I'm on Instagram and Twitter atReal Mike, Wilbon and Twitter. I've got nearly five million, uh, Twitterfollowers. They may get sick of me every now and then because I don't dothe trendy stuff, but both instagram and Twitter, Uh, real real Michaelwilbon, um and you know, every day on P t I 5 30 Eastern, Um, you know, I'mdoing it. I gotta I gotta I gotta say this about you doing this. This is important. Whatyou're doing, I'm imagining you're doing it for the love of. But this isimportant what you're doing, you're you're you're examining why people dosomething and something that we all consider important supporting industry,no matter which angry come from it. But doing this, man, this is this is great.I mean, the library you're going to have and just to engage people in yourlevel of curiosity. One of the reasons why I like just being around yourlocker and listening to you was because you were curious about a lot of thingsand that stuff came out. I think you know, those Redskin teams had a lot ofguys like that. I'm still in touch with, you know, man, you know, and Charlesbefore you, obviously, but oh, No, no, Charles Charles for a while andobviously be Mitch and Doc and I mentioned all these guys because theyhad that kind of curiosity. And again, you guys could You guys could have gonea lot of different directions with sports, the way with this, greatathletes, as you were. But this is This is really cool the way you are doingthis, and especially being from a community like Pittsburgh, my favoritesports communities are the ones that remind me of my own. Pittsburgh isalways Detroit always has that sort of important playing in Detroit. Those arereal cities where winning wasn't the thing that drew you. It wasparticipation and competition, and I recognize that about the man. And to behonest with me, for me, it was always relationships, you know what I mean?It's always relationships, and and when you can meet people like I, I neverwanted to not have a relationship with the writer reporter, right? Right,Because there are people there, humans, and you got to have those relationships.If you wanted them to treat you nice, you gotta treat them nice and it'skinda right. We're all doing our job and the older we get, we see the morecommon ground that we have. Well, yeah, that's why that's why I love doing theshow because we all start very similar, right? Well, I've got a brother, afriend, somebody who's beating our ear. And every time now when I watch Petey,I can say that's not Tony Kornheiser. That's Michael's brother on the couch.You and you knew us when? And you know it's at the beginning of this. And soit's it's cool for me, man. It just be, you know, to be doing this and sharethis time with you. I can't tell you how much I appreciate. No, I appreciateyou coming on and I hope that you like and share the show when we put it out.I really appreciate it. You know, this has been a passion. I've done over 100shows, so it's been a lot of fun. And, you know, I appreciate you spendingsome time with me, and and I got to find out a little more about Mr Wilbon.I think it was what a story you have. Please, please tell gutter that we willhave to. We have to sit in person to argue MJ LeBron one day, a goodnaturedly. And uh, please tell. And I remember meeting her all those yearsago and and and it's it's really cool that you're doing this and I'm notgoing. Am I going to share this one? I'm gonna go and look up some otherones as well. All right, I appreciate you, man. Thank you, Michael. So muchfor joining me on. Huddle up with Gus. That's our show. Everyone, Thanks forjoining us. Another great episode with an incredible guest. And I love hearingthese stories. We all grew up the same...

...way, playing some with football. Sothanks for joining me on. Huddle up with us and we'll see you next week.Thanks, guys. And that's a wrap sports fan. Thanksfor joining in the fun at the 16 31 Digital Studios, for another actuallyhuddle up with gusts featuring 15 year NFL quarterback Gus Theron Huddle upwith Gus, is proudly produced by 16 31 digital media and is available on Applemusic.

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