*After more than 31 years as a sports writer and columnist for the Washington Post, Michael Wilbon is moving on to become a full-time commentator for ESPN. Here is some of what he wrote today as his goodbye piece.
This is the first column I ever dreaded writing, the only time I can recall experiencing that thing known as writer’s block. It’s my last column for The Washington Post, 20-some years after my first one and 31 and 1/2 years after I walked in the door as a summer intern. It’s not Shirley Povich’s 75 years but I hung around long enough to think it might last forever.
Sadly and of my own doing, I’ve come to that part in the program where it’s time to say goodbye, where I need to tell readers, editors, colleagues, even some of the people I’ve covered over the years just how enormously grateful I am for their helping me have the greatest adventure imaginable.
I remember thinking in the summer of 1980, after graduating from college and coming back to Washington for a second summer, that it would be a successful career if I got to have a byline from each of the major sporting events once in my life. It never dawned on me I’d wind up covering nine Olympic Games for The Post, or more than 20 Super Bowls, more than 20 Final Fours, more than 20 NBA Finals, or more importantly evolve to the point where the editors of this newspaper would trust me to lead the daily discussion about the news of the day and the changing cultural landscape as it all related to sports.
I never woke up a single day in those 30 years hesitant to go to work, whether I was reporting on something as surprising as Virginia’s top-ranked basketball team losing to Chaminade in Honolulu; as terrifying as Mike Tyson biting off a piece of Evander Holyfield’s ear 30 feet in front of me; as historically significant as John Thompson navigating a Georgetown basketball program through the hostility of a sports world not yet comfortable with a black coach; as locally galvanizing as the Redskins winning a Super Bowl; as personally rewarding as being front and center to see David Robinson and Grant Hill and Byron Leftwich grow from boys to men; as selfless as Gary Williams leaving a perfectly good basketball program at Ohio State to come and save his alma mater; or as tragic as the death of young Len Bias.
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