City Desk

Michael Wilbon Heard the One About the Gold Medalist and the Bong — But Didn’t Laugh

Michael Wilbon answered yesterday's Sally Jenkins' column that made light of the Michael Phelps scandal.

Wilbon's piece attempts to slam the bong-sucking swimmer.

Wilbon's been the hardest-working superstar in sports newspapering for a while now. But if his latest column were a Goofus and Gallant panel, Wilbon would own the Goofus role the way Olivier did Hamlet.

Wilbon compares pot smokers to dog killers and stop-sign running drunks.

Even with the occasional caveats Wilbon throws into his paragraphs, his argument is beyond laughable. Given Wilbon's profile and credibility, his argument's downright dangerous, since it's based on the same insincerity and/or stupidity that allows SWAT teams to go unpunished for terrorizing innocent families.

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  • Mike

    "Wilbon compares pot smokers to dog killers and stop-sign running drunks."

    What article did you read? Way to show your prejudice stoner mcstonerton.

    That line should read "Wilbon compares michael phelps, (high paid successful athlete who screwed up), to michael vick and charles barkley (other high paid successful athletes who screwed up)."

    Debate pot all you want, Wilbon's point is that Phelps gets paid lots of money not to do illegal things, and should not get a pass when he does.

  • Ron The Don

    I read Wilborn column, and he's right about one thing. He's a grown adult, and he needs to behave like a grown adult. If we're gonna criticize Michael Phelps and other pro athletes for their acts of stupidity, you should also criticize those who try to make a quick buck of celebrities. Someone needs to pull Phelps over and say, I love you man but WTF were thinking taking the bong. I thought he would learn anything from his DUI arrest 5 years ago!

  • Dave McKenna


    you write:

    "That line should read 'Wilbon compares michael phelps, (high paid successful athlete who screwed up), to michael vick and charles barkley (other high paid successful athletes who screwed up).'”

    ok. we'll go with your words. which means you think wilbon makes a valid comparison -- bong hits to killing dogs to wreckless driving while drunk?

    If so, Mike, i gotta put you in the Goofus camp, too.

    and wilbon only partially says phelps shouldn't do illegal things. he also says he shouldn't have done them in public, meaning phelps' only sin was getting caught.

    that's a real noble stand, mike, given all the righteousness in the rest of the column.

    but i do like "Stoney McStonerton," i'd adopt it as my byline, but i just googled and some 'head with that name's already got a myspace page.

  • Erik Wemple

    I read Wilbon's column with great interest. It's always fun to watch well-paid columnists bash one another. I think McKenna's deductions are fair and his angle of attack trenchant. There are two things about Wilbon (and Korneheiser's) argument that I find dumb. First is the whole "do it in private, away from the cellphone camera" thing. As McKenna states, that's the same as saying it's OK to break the law so long as you don't get caught. The second part that I don't get is where Wilbon--especially on the video with Cindy Boren and TK--harps on this notion that if you're taking $100 million in endorsement money, you can't act like this. You have to abide by your endorsement contracts. You have to hew to a higher standard. To which I say, who says? I mean, if Phelps wants to screw over Visa and other endorsers by smoking dope in public, well, that's an issue for him and Visa and other endorsers to sort out. Perhaps they'll stop endorsing him, and he'll just be a multimillionaire with fewer multis. But why does Wilbon feel compelled to, like, act like some kind of Endorser's Pinkerton by, like, enforcing whatever code of conduct is in Phelps' endorsement agreements? Truth is, neither I nor the American people care much about whether Michael Phelps meets the public-image requirements of Madison Avenue. Like Sally Jenkins, I don't hold it against him if he smokes pot. Why Wilbon is doing his endorsers' dirty work for them is something I don't get.

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