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In Wilbon's World

Coaches should stick to coaching

Newspapers, including this one, should stop calling the NFL's organized offseason sessions "voluntary workouts." That's a lie. They're anything but voluntary. And if you think otherwise, just listen to the coaches whining and begging and threatening players who don't attend these "voluntary workouts."

I talked to several players last week on various teams who described in detail what they do over the offseason in the communities they call home. But of course, that's not good enough for most NFL coaches, just as they don't like their owners voting in favor of overtime changes in the postseason. The majority of football coaches are somewhere between control freaks and dictators and they believe that anybody who doesn't do exactly as they desire (Urban Meyer in Florida, threatening a reporter for getting a quote right) should be removed from the communities where they live.

So, new Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan is no different in that regard. He fits the mold. My bigger curiosity with Shanahan is how a coach as good as he is would look at his personnel, most notably Albert Haynesworth, London Fletcher and Brian Orakpo, and decide he has to have a 3-4 defense, or a defense that makes great use of a 3-4 front seven on defense. Why? Should philosophy trump personnel, especially when it doesn't fit the player in which the organization has made the biggest investment of all (Haynesworth)? This isn't to suggest Hanyesworth shouldn't do whatever he's asked, and come back in better shape than he was last year, when he alternated between dominant and out of breath. It's just fair to wonder how successful Shanahan is going to be if he's going to attempt a remodeling job with leftover personnel.

If the aforementioned Urban Meyer got in my face and threatened me after I quoted someone accurately the only thing he'd be guaranteed is the second swing. The only thing bullies understand is somebody coming right back at them. The bet here is the University of Florida will do nothing because school presidents and administrators are the very first people college coaches bully.

Speaking of football coaches acting badly -- and there rarely is a shortage of that -- how about Sean Payton's whining over the owners voting 28-4 to adopt new overtime rules for NFL playoff games? Payton has won a Super Bowl and next plans to change his name to Lombardi. It's been quite an offseason for Payton, who gangstered a bottle of Jerry Jones's wine during a restaurant visit, and now basically wants to tell the owners they should listen to him before they vote. Payton, like several other coaches, doesn't want to have to make any more decisions during a game. So his owner, who's paying him north of $4 million a year, should just shut up and listen to Payton. Isn't making decisions during a game what he's paid to do?

If he objects to that he should shut up and find another profession, one where he can tell his bosses he's tired of making decisions that day and wants to go home. Payton's a wonderful coach, who now, after winning a championship, seems ready to rub his ring on everybody's nose.


Michael Wilbon

 |  March 26, 2010; 6:44 AM ET  |  Category:  College Football , NFL , Redskins Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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All of you fools criticizing Wilbon, Tony K, and any other writers can't do what they do. You BAMAS think that all they do is write. Bet if you went into debate with Mike of Tony on ANY sport they PUNISH you. Half of you fools don't have proper grammar in these comment boards; who are you to judge? Get UR ANGLISH RIGHT BAMAS!

Posted by: stevo301PG | April 7, 2010 10:47 AM
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Punk A$$ sports writers and reporters didn't or couldn't play ball and now they take their GEEKINESS out on REAL PLAYERS!

Posted by: whatyoutalkinboutman | March 26, 2010 9:58 PM
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Mike, calm down little fella. Urban would bitch slap you back to that sissy acting school that you went to. You know why sports writers write, don't you.... 'cause they can't do anything else... Otherwise, they would be doing it. Are you the only one who can rant and pontificate??? You and your buddy, the equally sissy boy Tony the K can pick on women and old folks who don't have a platform like yours to defend themselves, but Urban can't face-to-face and man-to-man call out some punk reporter who ambushed a college kid??? Please, you don't have the moral high ground on this, you and Tony have bullied people for years. What Urban did was up front and a long time coming; he was the one calling out a bully. The Orlando Sentinel has been sending grown men to ambush youngsters for a while now. The only beef I have with Urban is that he has given that rag and second-rate reporter notoriety that they don't deserve. Their subscription rate is going down faster than the Washington Post; I would suggest that without Florida college sports, the paper would already be out of business. That said, its time is coming.

Posted by: Phillip258 | March 26, 2010 8:16 PM
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You are the pot calling the kettle black.

Why don't you stick to writing.

You are so predictable with your constant negative crap!

It really gets old seeing you posts. I start reading and after one sentence, I just realize more of your whining.............................

Posted by: jb3812121 | March 26, 2010 6:18 PM
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Heaven forbid the 'skins ever again fit the scheme to the personnel.

Posted by: dcfanoutwest | March 26, 2010 6:08 PM
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Earth to Wilbon:

a) the Skins are losers, and strongly urging slack and overpaid divas to participate in the OTAs is long overdue in Ashburn (and until they start winning again, if and when that ever comes to pass), Redskin players should continue to be coaxed, cajoled or pressured - whatever the hell it takes - to come in and work out; as someone who attends Skins games, buys their 'schwag,' etc., it's not asking too much to expect these young men to make the commitment necessary to come together as a team in the offseason by training and studying together; the fact these are 'voluntary' is an unfortunate outcome of a labor negotiation that the players - in this instance - won, so let's not go on about the whole 'voluntary' versus 'mandatory' thing because fans of the team expect these guys to be team guys, and to do whatever it takes to end the culture of losing. They may be voluntary, but bravo to Shanahan for elevating their importance and communicating his expectations. Besides, Mike isn't that clown from Gainesville who is every bit the diva Favre or Portis is.

2) To qoute John McEnroe, "you can't be serious" regarding your 3-4 comments. We're going to stink this year anyway. Following Shanahan's sabbatical of 2009, and visits to New England and other places, he concluded that the modern NFL game demands defensive pressure and that can best be generated (over time) as we transition to a 3-4. It won't happen entirely in 2010, but eventually we'll have the personnel - and they will have or gain the skills necessary - to compete and perhaps one day dominate in a 3-4.

You columnists crack me up with your hyperbole and out-of-your arse opinions. I guess that is what sells these days, polarizing pieces that do little to add to the intelligent discourse learned fans wish to be a part of.

Posted by: knk4jack | March 26, 2010 5:24 PM
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Wilbon and the rest of the reporters...get a grip on reality..The reporter for the Orlando paper trumped up a innocent quote. He knew he was trying to get a headline. If I were Urban I would have decked the reporter!

Posted by: speckins2004 | March 26, 2010 5:21 PM
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4-12, 4-12, 4-12, 4-12... A 4 and 12 team does not have the luxury of telling or even suggesting how things ought to be done. As for Wilbon, lost all respect for the PUNK when without finding out the facts behind Sean Taylors death attributed it to ST being a hoodlum. Yes, Wilbon like many folks on this site pass judgement without researching the story. Unlike us, Wilbon should know better....

Posted by: samiismoni14 | March 26, 2010 4:30 PM
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Oh, yes, and like Shanks1 said, if Wilbon had been reading the Washington Post lately, he'd know that Shanahan said that it's premature to say what defense they'll use until they actually get to camp and see their personnel and how to be utilize them. So much for his comments about making personnel conform to the scheme.

Posted by: OintheSierras | March 26, 2010 4:23 PM
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Wilbon's a good writer. And this shoot-from-the-hip style is his shtick. I understand that. At least his blasts are intelligent ones for the most part. But he does make mistakes. Right off the top in this one, he suggests that the "voluntary" workouts are not really voluntary. Then he talks about coaches whining and begging players to attend the workouts. Question: if they're not voluntary workouts, would the coaches have to resort to whining and begging? Answer: Obviously not. He seems to take the players' side here, too, and I can't see that either. They're getting paid how much? And they can't show up for off-season training? Please. They have a part-time job to do. I wish they'd just do it. Very few people get to live away from the areas in which they work. They should move to the area where they've signed up for a job, and be there to do it. As for this criticism of Payton, he's entitled to his opinion. It won't change anything. Coaches are in powerful positions and they have a lot of responsibility. If they didn't have a bit of control-freak in them, they wouldn't be any good at what they do. Can it be overdone? Yes. But a comment about overtime rule changes isn't overdoing it.

Posted by: OintheSierras | March 26, 2010 4:18 PM
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Where else can coward littledicks smartoff without fear of getting popped in the mouth...the internet

Posted by: kahlua87 | March 26, 2010 3:13 PM
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First, there are no racial overtones, undertones, or sidetones in this entry by MW.

Second, I think Wilbon's point is that if they workouts are in fact voluntary (meaning there should be no penalty not to attend) under the CBA then coaches shouldn't berate players for not attending voluntary workouts. If the teams/coaches don't want them to be voluntary then change that in the next CBA. Simple.

Posted by: gkronenberg | March 26, 2010 1:53 PM
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Wilbon hasn't come to Big Ben's rescue because Big Ben - wait - are you kidding me? I have read over and over how Wilbon's favorite quarterback is Big Ben, and that all he does is win. Wilbon's praise for Big Ben is to the point of an obsession. I don't get it. Big Ben is good, but not THAT good.

Posted by: spaceman2 | March 26, 2010 1:28 PM
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People - please!

Race is a very significant part of American culture - of course everything's about race! You cannot take race out of anything. I don't agree with everything Wilbon writes, but he writes intelligently about race - and who else writes about race when it comes to sports? That's right - nobody. Maybe Stephen A. Smith, but that's it.

People, just enjoy it. It is a fascinating subject, and it needs to be discussed.

Posted by: spaceman2 | March 26, 2010 1:26 PM
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By the way, Wilbon references Payton Manning way to much. Guess that's racist also.

Posted by: hessone | March 26, 2010 1:10 PM
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More excuses for the black athlete here. Hey Wilbon, why don't you become an attorney for these spoiled rotten, out of touch with reality athlete's?

Explain to me what is racist about these comments?

Posted by: hessone | March 26, 2010 1:05 PM
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Since when is a person racist because that person has an opinion. Wilbon has a record of defending black athlete's. What is so racist about those comments? Get tuff or stay off the board. Jeez

Posted by: hessone | March 26, 2010 1:03 PM
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u folks turn anything into race.

For $40M, they should not expect you to work out to be effective on your job. you should be required to do it.

Posted by: oknow1 | March 26, 2010 12:25 PM
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The NFL contract needs to be modified to a 9-10 month contract.

Just like a teacher they can get paid over 12 months, or get paid simply during the season. This off season workout stuff just causes more BS than necessary. ESPN and the newspapers luv this stuff, but it much ado about nothing.

Posted by: oknow1 | March 26, 2010 12:19 PM
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In the same piece Wilbon chastises coaches for their behavior towards subordinates (players) and superiors (owners). I find it interesting that he believes coaches should follow the same supervisor/employee relationship most people enjoy (following the orders of your superior without question) but somehow believes professional athletes should not have to follow such a standard. A coach who demands that his players follow his rules and do things as he says is a "dictator."

Posted by: jjhare | March 26, 2010 11:57 AM
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Does system trump personnel? Depends. On a 4-12 team, "yes". Not attending "voluntary" workouts and being reprimanded is a luxury most don't have. The average employee knows that voluntary means mandatory if you want to keep your job. With attorneys, advisers, agents, and a multitude of other folks helping these men with their lives, why don't they know this? Making a good first impression is important, why don't they know this? When you are on a 4-12 team you suck, regardless of how you feel about yourself, why don't they know this?
This kind of idiocy is why the owners are going to break the union. They should make football a 12-month job like the rest of us have. For $30 million, the least you can do is show up to practice, do what you are asked, and get out into the community to serve those less fortunate. They should be given leave that's not to be taken during the football season like the rest of the workers in the U.S. Spoiled men playing a boys game for millions and this is what you get. Coaches coach this way because it works. When they don't, like Zorn who expected professionals to act like it, you are considered weak. Coming from a racist bully, this is the pot calling the kettle black (no racial overtones intended - get off the box).

Posted by: KDSmallJr | March 26, 2010 11:10 AM
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3-4 defense vs. 4-3 defense. Who cares? There aint much difference.

Haynesworth is 6'6 350+. If he is a real baller he can play anywhere on the line in a 3-4 (advantage 34). Orakpo will be downright scary in a 3-4. Standing, 3 point stance, he has more options in a 3-4. I see a bigger stronger Demarcus Ware. And Fletcher is a pro's pro. He can play anywhere and get 100 tackles in his sleep. (Fletcher is the last of my worries on this D. I am worried about our piss poor overrated secondary. Landry sucks. Rodgers sucks, and I dont have to mention Hall).

Our front 7 is as strong and versitile as any. Please stop complaining about the 3-4 Wilbon. You dont know what ur talking about. Just stick to your little show that u and ur butt buddy Kornboy shoot over at TechWorld. You don't knoe jack about football.

Posted by: digger76 | March 26, 2010 11:07 AM
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You know recently I have become TIRED of the wishy wash column style of Mr. Wilbon. A couple of days ago, he chides one sports organization in this town for not handing enough discipline to its players....Now today he writes how another organizations coach or manager is a control freak yet this team has not won anything in ten years and is lucky to have a coach of his stature knowing many of these players are coach killers.....MICHAEL WILBON, PLEASE QUIT RIDING BOTH SIDES OF THE FENCE IN YOUR ARTICLES. THIS IS NOT PARDON THE INTERRUPTION ON ESPN. THIS IS THE WASHINGTON POST NEWSPAPER. YOU DO NOT WRITE COLUMNS TO IMPRESS TELEVISION PEOPLE. PICK A SIDE TO AN ISSUE AND STAY WITH IT!!!!!! ARTICLES OF THIS KIND KEEPS CONFUSION GOING AMONGST PLAYERS AND FANS. STOP IT!!!!

Posted by: ejharrisjr40 | March 26, 2010 11:04 AM
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Remember when Wilbon said Sean Taylor deserved to be murdered?

Posted by: bogardp | March 26, 2010 11:01 AM
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"If the aforementioned Urban Meyer got in my face and threatened me after I quoted someone accurately the only thing he'd be guaranteed is the second swing." Whoa. Wilbon sprouts a set of cajones. Sounds like a threat to me. Gee, wonder what Urban's lawyers think of that statement. Urban Meyer (and all of the others that he "reports" on) keep him working. Without them, he's a bagger at Giant. And, BTW, Wilbon works for himself and his inflated ego, not WaPo. He's the Rush Limburger of the sports world. Shirley Povich must be puking in his grave over what passes for "sports" journalism these days... Wilbon is a no-nothing "protect the black man / trash the white man" jerk and always will be...

Posted by: RiSKybizness | March 26, 2010 10:39 AM
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As for the whole binary race game

get. over. it.

we as a human race have a lot of getting over ourselves to do -- just because it's a sports blog on the interweb doesn't mean that manure don't stink.

Posted by: live1 | March 26, 2010 10:38 AM
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Honestly, this is just a mess of disjointed babble -- Wilbon used to write good or at least cogent columns before he got "big". I'll take Shanahan's strategic planning over Wilbon's tweets any day of the week.

As for Haynesworth, there's no I in team. If he wants to be a pro bowler or whatever, he might consider getting with the program or he'll be the next Sean Gilbert.

Posted by: live1 | March 26, 2010 10:35 AM
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I am so happy blogs like this exist. I come here not so much to talk sports but to see how America really thinks. At first I found it shocking how many people make posts that at best could be considered racially insensitive (not limited to blacks or whites BTW). Then it dawned on me that here in cyberland many of you can have the freedom to say the little filthy things that have been rolling around in your mind. I just find it sad that you can't be more brave and say these things in public. Imagine a world where posters left the anonymity of the web and got up from there desks and leaned one cubicle over and said some of this trash to the black or white guy sitting right next to them. Sadly I think many of you are too cowardly to ever do such a thing....

Posted by: davefromdc1 | March 26, 2010 10:35 AM
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Comprehension is not your forte.

Posted by: hessone | March 26, 2010 10:14 AM
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Heaven forbid these athletes might have to come to their workplace during their almost half-year off-season! Its not like the ones that are skipping the workouts are making millions of dollars for what they do anyways...

I mean if most Americans went to their boss and said that they shouldn't have to come in to their office to work for a half year, what do you think would be the reply? I wish these athletes would have some sense of accountability towards being a model citizen and show up for work like the rest of society. I know they work hard at their home or their private gym during the off-season, but these guys shouldn't be above anyone else on their team in terms of being accountable towards their boss and the money they make. I wish Wilbon would stop coddling these guys, he seems to think he is above the rest of us along with his "role-model" friends.

I seem to remember a wildly respected and popular athlete a decade back in the area that transcended sports. He wasn't a star, but he showed up every day for work, and he set an example for the rest of society on giving your best effort no matter what your profession. He was popular because he seemed to be like the millions of other Americans who show up to work five days a week. I guess that is just not expected out of anyone these days, and we can thank columns like the one above for this sad truth.

Posted by: rademaar | March 26, 2010 10:05 AM
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Wrong again, Wilbon. If you were paying attention, you'd know that Shanny said he hasn't decided yet whether he's going 3-4 or 4-3 or a hybrid. Get your info straight before shooting off your mouth.

Posted by: shanks1 | March 26, 2010 10:03 AM
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@drfunknsoul = White Guy?


Posted by: hessone | March 26, 2010 10:02 AM
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Boring narcissistic rage.

Posted by: AndJuan | March 26, 2010 10:02 AM
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Hate to bust your bubble my man, but I'm not racist. Hope you can come to grips with your thin skin and being so defensive about being a black man. I haven't heard Wilbon come to Big Ben's rescue yet. What gives? He's white, that's why.

Posted by: hessone | March 26, 2010 10:00 AM
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I usually only agree with about 75% or so of Wilbon's opinions/articles, but this article was just great. I also agree that Urban Meyer was out of line, and I am also tired of hearing Payton's mouth. Good points made all around. Also, Wilbon's article about Andray B. was great, too. Great work. Now, stop talking so much about Tiger Woods. I really don't know one person who likes golf. And, stop getting so angry at people who ask you about the Redskins; you do work for the Washington Post.

Posted by: cnoll | March 26, 2010 9:48 AM
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Awesome column! Exactly on point. Coaching on almost every level from HS to Pro is filled with over the top control freaks. There is no control over degrading profanity-filled rantings sometimes on 13-14 year old kids. I look at an NBA team and see 7 coaches or NFL staff with 20 coaches. The money is so HUGE that these guys are scared of losing their empire.

Posted by: paulfischetti | March 26, 2010 9:48 AM
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More excuses for the black athlete here. Hey Wilbon, why don't you become an attorney for these spoiled rotten, out of touch with reality athlete's?
Posted by: hessone | March 26, 2010

What are you talking about? I don't see where someone's race has anything to do with this article. I'm sure you'll have something smart to say to me but you should check yourself.

Posted by: tcparrish1 | March 26, 2010 9:44 AM
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Hessone, You just proved yourself a racist. I guess no matter what Wilbon writes about he's making an excuse for a black athlete. As a white guy I just have to say you're an embarassment!

Posted by: drfunknsoul | March 26, 2010 9:42 AM
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More excuses for the black athlete here. Hey Wilbon, why don't you become an attorney for these spoiled rotten, out of touch with reality athlete's?

Posted by: hessone | March 26, 2010 9:25 AM
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