During Friday's episode the idea of American football being played in the Olympics came up as NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is starting to advocate for the sports inclusion in the games. When co-host Tony Kornheiser read a quote from Goodell that said 64 countries play American football, one of the requirements a sport must reach before being considered for the Olympics, Wilbon began by laughing at it. He followed that up with a quote so ignorant and idiotic that I have to print it in full (they can be heard at the 5:14 mark of the podcast of the episode):
This is junk!. There's two countries playing real American football, America and Canada, and we're not sure about Canada.Wilbon, for all his sports-writing expertise, lets his ignorant side shine through on this one. While I've come to expect that Americans know very little about our brand of football, but hearing the arrogance in Wilbon's voice as he says "and we're not sure about Canada" made me want to reach through my TV and punch him right in the mouth.
Maybe someone should show Wilbon the footage of Team Canada's 23-17 gold medal victory over Team USA in last month's finals of the IFAF Under-19 World Championships.
I will give him credit for one thing, though: he is right and Canada does not play "real American football." We play Canadian football.But he was right about that on a technicality, so I'm not giving him too much credit.
Wilbon's comments were ignorant and typical of ESPN blowhards who speak before they think. I like PTI and like Wilbon, but he's no different than the Jim Rome's, Skip Bayless' and Michael Landsberg's of the world; he's a guy who gets paid to shoot his mouth off.
Guess Wilbon's not as enlightened as fellow ESPNer, and big-time CFL fan, Chris Berman.
UPDATE: ESPN's Michael Wilbon has responded via Twitter. He posted the following in response to this post:
@JoshSmithBWW Stop whining...you play minor league pro football and u want to argue...take it elsewhere. The CFL is fine; it's not the NFL.
I'm going to guess that Wilbon didn't actually read the post because if he did he would realize that this was never about the CFL vs. the NFL or even Canada vs. the US. This was about his comment that he wasn't sure if Canada played football. It was an ignorant comment, and I stand by that statement, but I especially stand by it after this new comment where he calls the CFL "minor league pro football."
I think what bothers me the most about that statement is that it is disrespectful to the hundreds of players that play in the CFL. Guys are up here for reasons other than talent and by calling the CFL a minor league, Wilbon implies that players are in the CFL because they lack the talent to play in the NFL. I know it probably means little to a guy who, according to others, sold his credibility a long time ago, but perhaps there are guys who play in the CFL because they'd rather earn their paycheque than be a third stringer for the Cleveland Browns.
While Canada will likely never be the football power the US is, Wilbon decided to make that point – which is a point I do not disagree with and was the never the reason for my initial post – in the most ignorant and disrespectful way possible. Hopefully, this is the final time we will hear from him on this subject.