Zorn and Portis Exchange Words
As you might have seen, early in the second quarter of today's 25-17 Redskins win over the Lions, Jim Zorn and Clinton Portis had what appeared to be a heated exchange of words on the sidelines. Portis then appeared to be discouraged while still on the sideline, mulling over the incident. But he returned to the game and kept up his manic pace this season, gaining 126 yards to run his season total to 944.
He's one of only two players to put together two five-game streaks of 120 or more rushing yards in his career. The other? O.J. Simpson.
"It's great company," Portis told my colleague Sally Jenkins. "it's one of the few times you can say O.J. is great company."
As for the incident, Portis said he had gotten into it with people on the sidelines before, but never with his head coach. Here's how Zorn explained it. Portis was having an equipment problem (I believe with his helmet), forcing backup Shaun Alexander into the game at the end of the first quarter. That's how the second quarter began, and Zorn assumed Alexander would finish the drive, but Portis then checked himself back in.
(Watch the video here, and note that Brian Billick and sideline reporter Charissa Thompson got the incident sort of wrong; Portis wasn't upset at Shaun Alexander being in the game, as they guessed; Zorn was upset at Portis subbing Alexander out without clearance.)
Some locker room quotes on what happened next.
Zorn: "When the quarter's over, in my mind, you know, Shaun goes until he goes to [running backs coach] Stump [Mitchell], or Stump tells me Clinton's ready to play. I have no idea. And I'm calling the game based on who's in there, right? And when he went in there, he just misunderstood the situation, and we had a [slows down to exaggerate] sweet exchange of words, about when to go in."
Portis: "It was basically just a miscommunication, not letting him know that Shaun was in, which it was one play, so I think it was just blown out of proportion. He was excited and I was excited, so when two grown men get excited and two grown men [are] eager, you know, you'll have that miscommunication."
Ladell Betts: "I mean, there's so many emotional things that go on on the sidelines in the course of a game, so you'll see many different players get into different situations, yelling matches, whatever you want to call it. But it's part of the game, it just happens on game day. Most people as football players probably play better when they're angry, because football's not a nice sport, it's a violent sport. So the more angry you are, you can direct it to the other team."
Mike Sellers: "When I get frustrated sometimes he comes to talk to me, and he's my running back, I'm supposed to take care of him. So when I see that, I just had to have a little conversation with him, try to get his mind right, and he was cool. I know CP's a professional, and no matter what is said or done, he's going to come out and play regardless."
Shaun Alexander: "A lot of time when you're in a groove like this, you have so much stuff going in your mind. You've got a thousand yards and you're halfway through the season, there's only a handful of us that's ever been like that, you know what I mean? So for me, I'm always telling him mentally what he's going through, knowing that he's close to tasting something that...only a few people [ever taste]....He's a good player, and he's about to step into greatness, and we want to make sure that we can ride this horse as far as it can go."
Zorn: "It's really, it was the heat of the game for me. So I'm more stern about it than I am just talking to you right now. And he explained what happened to him. I explained what my deal was. And so we just came to an understanding."
Portis: "I mean, I sort of regret that it happened, because I never want somebody to question or feel like I wasn't there, I never want my teammates to feel like I wasn't there, I never want my coaches to feel like I wasn't there. Every Sunday I'm gonna show up. I mean, I'm gonna give all I've got. So if there's any miscommunication about why I'm not somewhere and you think I'm supposed to be there, or why something didn't happen, come ask me. You never point the finger and not know. It's just like you're innocent until proven guilty. So it was really a miscommunication."
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