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Clinton Portis: "Is it Really Hope?"

(By Marcio Jose Sanchez - AP)

Here are a few clues that let you know you've stumbled upon another choice Clinton Portis radio appearance:

1) Host John Thompson tells Portis, "Boy, you're crazy," not once, but twice.

2) Portis refers to himself in the third person at least three times.

3) Portis volunteers to be the team's punter.

So yeah, in addition to Chris Cooley endorsing Vinny Cerrato on the radio this week, we also had Portis's final John Thompson Show appearance of the year on ESPN 980. In a year where Portis's radio appearances were often more entertaining (with a LOT more offense) than many Redskins games, you had to figure he had one more headline-grabbing performance in him, and sure enough.

It's hard for me to divine exactly what Portis was trying to say, though. Was he complaining about the play-calling? The coaching organizational ladder? Was he joking? Being serious? Was he wishing he had gotten more chances to help his stats? Wishing he had been able to better help the team? Just blowing off steam? Or merely throwing one final offseason bone to bloggers? Unclear, but if he wanted to end talk of Portis and discontent, this was a strange tactic.

For sheer ridiculousness, I suppose the highlight came when Thompson asked Portis whether he has enough seniority to offer suggestions on the team's offensive philosophy.

"I don't think my seniority had nothing to do with it," Portis said. "You know, they gave seating charts when we flew to the West Coast. I was in coach. So I don't have enough seniority."

"Boy, you crazy," Thompson said.

"It was a whole bunch of guys sitting up in first class," Portis continued, "legs kicked back, and me and Santana sitting back there crunched up in coach, along with Jason. So you know, I don't know what's going on around there, man. There's not much I'm gonna say. I'm gonna go out and try to take care of Clinton and make sure Clinton's all right, and however they go or whatever they do with it, that's on them."

So that was fun. But for "spending three weeks puzzling and arguing on message boards over what the man meant," this was the money quote. It came after Thompson observed, rightly, that Portis still sounded depressed about the end of the season.

"I mean, bro, to be in Week 9 of a season and five yards away from a thousand yards at the end of the third quarter, and all of the sudden you can't get five yards in the game because y'all trying to win the game?" Portis offered by way of an answer. "And you're finished, and can't even get to 1,500 yards? You know, I mean, you want to have hope, but is it really hope? You're telling me in seven games I couldn't get 500 yards after I was 300 yards above all competition in Week 9? So who knows, man? I can't do nothing but go ahead and just do what they ask me to do. If they ask me to come in and start punting, I'm gonna get my leg ready and learn how to be a punter."

Other memorable moments to chew over during an offseason that will likely be devoid of Redskins radio firestorms:

On his relationship with Jim Zorn: "I mean, I think it's gonna have to be a give and take relationship. You know, it can't be a dictatorship. I know he's the head coach and he's gonna be set in his ways, but it really gonna have to be give and take. You know, you can't rule with an iron fist. I'm gonna come out and give you everything that' I've got and I'm sure he's gonna go out and give everything he's got.

"I think the point is just learning your personnel, learning what you've got. You know, you can't listen to the outside world or get involved in what the outside world thinks. Because, no matter how it ended up, I wasn't the only guy not practicing, I was the only guy it was talked about not practicing."

On the team's offensive philosophy: "I think we was healthy in the 6-2 span and playing smashmouth football. And through that span of whatever we went, 2-6, I think we just lost the identity of what we were trying to do. I think when the running game was our focal point, I think Jason was playing great, I think Santana was playing great and Cooley as well and everybody else was getting involved. And once we got away from that and just started slinging the ball, nobody did anything. Jason's play fell off, my play fell off, 'Tana's play fell off, Cooley's play fell off. So I think we've just got to stick with what's working."

[For the record, the Redskins averaged 33.4 runs in the first half of the season, and 26.4 in the second. They averaged 29 passing attempts in the first half, and 34.8 in the second.]

On the two-back system: "I think when Ladell was healthy and we had our own rotation going and we were 6-2, things was going good. All of the sudden you come back, and this happen and that happen, now all of the sudden you come out of the game, 'Hey, Ladell's going in. All right, come back, your turn.' You know, you really can't get in a groove.

"And I think whatever ain't broke, man, don't fix it. You know, you come in, tampering, changing things around, I think me and Ladell coexisted fine in the beginning of the season; it was in the later part of the season where we began to be told how we was going in and when we was playing, and I think [Ladell] was kind of banged up as well as me, so our play declined."

On the coaches changing their minds: "I think Coach [Stump] Mitchell always shot us straight, man, and let us go out to be men. I think he did his best of keeping us alerted. He really wasn't in control. I think every other position coach on our team gets to control their guys. I don't think Coach Stump had the same opportunity. You know, it was above him, and he did his best, he came in, he prepared us.

"At 6-2, when he was in control, I think we were doing fine. You know, all of the sudden, things change, everybody have input on the running game all of the sudden. What the runners need to do and where we need to go and how we need to slide and how we need to run into a pile. You know, I think me and Ladell been in the NFL seven years, so my track record speaks for itself. I think I know how to [run the] ball, but I guess people weren't satisfied."

On whether the problem was the O-Line or the philosophy: "Hey, I'm just saying, that was the same offensive line we had at 6-2. I don't think we didn't trade no linemen during the middle of the season. It worked to get to 6-2, so if you feel like our offensive line wasn't a good pass-blocking offensive line and all of the sudden we throw 50 passes, well....

"You know, I mean, that's on them. That's on the front office, you know, that's on them to decide if our offensive line was good enough, if I was good enough, if anybody else was good enough. Only thing we can do is go to work. You can't control the front office, I won't try to control the front office. And like I said, I'm gonna try to do my part, to take care of Clinton Portis, and however that end up, that's how it'll end up."

By Dan Steinberg  |  January 7, 2009; 2:29 PM ET
Categories:  Redskins  
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Summary: Portis pockets straight

Posted by: empsg59 | January 7, 2009 2:39 PM | Report abuse

I wish I could say Gibbs would not have let CP get away with that but we know he did and would.

Posted by: alex35332 | January 7, 2009 2:44 PM | Report abuse

Oh, yeah, there's Mister Unselfish Himself, Clinton Portis.

Cue the apologists in 3 . . . 2 . . 1.

Posted by: mdean3 | January 7, 2009 2:54 PM | Report abuse

Oh how I long for the days when players played, and didn't spout off all the time, and the coaches word was law, and players got benched for being loud mouth arrogant punks. I don't feel sorry for Clinton, he's an ego looking for a place to defecate.

Posted by: fedup18 | January 7, 2009 2:59 PM | Report abuse

Soooooooooooooo tired of his crap. Clinton Portis' crap.........

Posted by: MadDog20201 | January 7, 2009 3:03 PM | Report abuse

The offensive line is small and old. They CAN wear out over the course of a season especially when you start playing the top defenses in the league.

Posted by: charley42 | January 7, 2009 3:10 PM | Report abuse

Clinton, I think we're going to have to take a look at what's necessary to make this team perform with the same kind of unity that this city deserves. It's not the offense of the Washington Redskins, or the defense of the Washington Redskins, it's the Washington Redskins.

- B. Obama

Posted by: StetSportsBlog | January 7, 2009 3:11 PM | Report abuse

where is barno? what does he think now about the interview? what is not selfish about portis "gonna go out and try to take care of Clinton and make sure Clinton's all right"

anyone? anyone?

i think portis is a great back but he needs to relax about the stats and worry about his declining play over the course of the season. maybe he didnt get 1500 yds because his was too worn down from the first half of the season. anyone else notice how he seemed to run without any explosion?

i dunno just something i notice barno.

Posted by: MondoTE11 | January 7, 2009 3:45 PM | Report abuse

Clinton blocks, so he's wonderful. Never mind the whining. Didn't you get the memo?

Posted by: mdean3 | January 7, 2009 3:49 PM | Report abuse

I'm not the brightest bulb in the closet, but it sounds like CP is ready and willing to move on. What round pick do you think we could get if Clinton wants to go?

Posted by: coastallp74 | January 7, 2009 4:09 PM | Report abuse

I wish we had an unselfish back that praised his coach unconditionally. Really, if we had an unselfish back that praised his coach unconditionally, this offense would explode from 16.4 points per game to 24 points per game. That's the missing piece, an unselfish back.

We really need to replace Portis and his 1400+ yards behind this horrid offensive line. You put an unselfish guy back there, guaranteed he hits the whole like Portis, man's up and blocks blitzers that outweigh him by 50 pounds like Portis, and suits up game after game despite whatever injuries he has like Portis.

While we're at it, the Washington Wizards should never let Gilbert Arenas touch the floor again. He's too selfish. It's painfully obvious how much better that team is when they take the selfish off the court.

Posted by: psps23 | January 7, 2009 4:16 PM | Report abuse

I'm sick of this guy.

And if I hear one more prima donna athlete say, "I just gonna do what coach acks me ta do," I'm gonna punch Barno's cat in the pancreas. What a bunch of passive agressive crap.

Clinton Portis seriously needs to just come out and say what he thinks straight up. And I'm not being sarcastic. He claims he's a man, but he phrases everything in such a way that he can deny that he meant what he meant. If you're such a man Clin-un, why don't you come out and say, "Jim Zorn is a bad coach." I'm not saying I'd respect you more, but I couldn't possibly respect you any less.

Posted by: davekempson | January 7, 2009 4:17 PM | Report abuse

psps23, are you Portis' agent? Or maybe his mother? Or maybe you're hoping he just reads your posts one day and decides to make your pockets straight.

Posted by: davekempson | January 7, 2009 4:23 PM | Report abuse

Or maybe I realize the value of an athlete by what I see him perform on the field, not by judging his words through the media. Just my 2 cents.

Posted by: psps23 | January 7, 2009 5:05 PM | Report abuse

God help the skins if Portis leaves. Betts gonna take us to the playoffs, hell no. Look at our record with Portis gaining 100 yards since he got here, and look at our record when he doesnt gain 100 yards or doesnt play.

The thing is, he cracks me up. I love when he runs his mouth. He wants to win, plays 100% all the time and is tired of being on a mediocre team. I am tired of rooting for a mediocre team. For all the people wanting to get rid of Portis, who else would you take in his place? I cant think of anyone i would want in his place.

Posted by: wjeremy26 | January 7, 2009 5:10 PM | Report abuse


I'm sorry, "through the media"? Have you lost the power of hearing? Can you not read? These are HIS WORDS, not filtered, not interpreted, just there. YOU can judge those words.

It's pure chickenbleep to blame this on the media, or to use that as a cop-out.

Posted by: mdean3 | January 7, 2009 6:25 PM | Report abuse

This was the most revealing of his interviews. He's been empowered by Gibbs II and his relationship to Snyder. But, he's still horribly immature and insecure.

Could you imagine what would happen if he was in Pittsburgh and shot his mouth off about his bad O-line? His "Genius" coach? They'd off-load him. Quickly.

There's more to football than gaining some yards. There's the team. Clinton's a cancer and needs to be surgically removed.

Posted by: PS7900 | January 7, 2009 6:42 PM | Report abuse

mdean3 - Ok, you win. What a player says off the field is more important than what he does on the field. Can't argue with that. During this next drafting process, the #1 most important factor must be how they interview. As long as we have guys who say the right thing, this team is destined for a Super Bowl. Everyone knows this.

PS7900 - "Could you imagine what would happen if he was in Pittsburgh and shot his mouth off about his bad O-line? His "Genius" coach?"

He wouldn't have done that in Pittsburgh. Over there they actually have a real head coach. Funny how this didn't come out of Portis' mouth when Gibbs was coaching 5-11 and 6-10 teams. Funny indeed.

Posted by: psps23 | January 7, 2009 10:09 PM | Report abuse

This team could be in BIG trouble whether "Straight Pockets" is here or not. But since there isn't a chance in hell that he's going anywhere with his contract, broken down body to go along with the newly-revealed cancerous nature, it's all moot.

Until the front office is overhauled, and an actual NFL-quality GM is in place of the glorified accountant/grand vizier in place now, it's gonna be rough around these parts.

It's time the Redskins thought about a full-scale re-build, and make a non-winning season actually count for something besides disappointing the fans for a change.

Posted by: Goat_74 | January 7, 2009 11:45 PM | Report abuse

Portis would not be a hot topic if DAN had not stuck him with a condescending idiotic rookie Coach. Fans deserve better than experimental Coaches like Zorn and Spurrier.

Posted by: kcandlc | January 7, 2009 11:46 PM | Report abuse

psps23 He wouldn't have done that in Pittsburgh. Over there they actually have a real head coach. Funny how this didn't come out of Portis' mouth when Gibbs was coaching 5-11 and 6-10 teams. Funny indeed.

Gibbs let him do whatever he wanted when he wanted. What was there to complain about? He's got a coach who's trying to making him toe the line a bit and Portis is reacting like a spoiled child...which is basically what he is. And, he has the leverage to get away with it because of his contract.

From listening to Cooley, Zorn has more discipline, rules, and structure than Gibbs did. But, when the owner reacts to Clinton's national trashing of the coach with, "That's Clinton being Clinton" it undermines the coach horribly. That's my point about Pittsburgh, or a number of teams, the top management would defend the coach. They wouldn't tolerate it. Our guys just chuckle. It speaks volumes about the organization.

Posted by: PS7900 | January 8, 2009 5:13 AM | Report abuse

psps23: Nice straw man argument there -- nobody said CP's big mouth was all that matters. But your position appeared to be that it DIDN'T matter. I see you've dropped the "media" argument like a hot poker. I look forward to your reaction after the next time CP pulls a stunt like this -- because you know there'll be a next time.

Posted by: mdean3 | January 8, 2009 8:53 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: PS7900

From listening to Cooley, he has the same exact problems that Portis did. In fact, when Portis first blew up on the JT show, the person I said would be next was Chris Cooley. He didn't fail me. He knows this is an amateur offense. He said as much with his "we have talent...I don't want to want to say it was bad coaching -- he's a rookie head coach" comments. That is ALL that Portis' problem was. I guarantee you, if the offense performed well when he was limited to touches, Portis wouldn't have said a thing. He was frustrated the exact same way Cooley was, only Cooley is able to be a little more cordial about it.

Remember against the Giants in 2007, when the game was on the line, 3 yards out, and Gibbs called consecutive Ladell Betts runs on 3rd and 4th & goal? We lost that game. Did you hear Portis run his mouth then? Don't be so naive to think Portis does this whenever he feels undermined.

mdean3 - sorry, the only straw argument was coming from you. You seem to think that CP's "big mouth" makes him a "cancer" to the locker room, even though I've NEVER heard any player, coach, or other member of the Redskins organization complain about Portis. In any way. Your entire argument is based on subjective opinion of which you have ZERO credibility because you have no idea what goes on inside the Redskins locker room. When Portis demands to be traded, gets into a fight with a teammate, takes plays off on the field, commits unnecessary penalties, breaks the law, or anything of that sort, then come see me. Until then, you're acting like this spring rain is actually a hurricane.

Posted by: psps23 | January 8, 2009 10:04 AM | Report abuse

psps: Where did I call CP a locker-room cancer? Or anything like that?

I'll wait . . . that's two-for-two on the straw men arguments for you; not bad. Someday, perhaps you'll move on to things that have actually be SAID.;

Posted by: mdean3 | January 8, 2009 11:37 AM | Report abuse

mdean - you're on fire right now. Never said anything close to Clinton being a locker room cancer ("cancer" is a popular term that means "problem", in case you didn't know)?

"So there's no level of whining, back-biting, and under-the-bus-tossing from CP that will change your view? Interesting . . .
Posted by: mdean3| January 7, 2009 1:37 PM"

So either you think CP's "whining" only affects himself (which would be a moronic argument, considering he ended the season 3rd in the league in rushing), or you think CP's whining affects the overall team performance (which would imply that he is a locker room problem, i.e. cancer).

Keep dancing around the subject mdean. Doing a fine job of it.

Posted by: psps23 | January 8, 2009 11:54 AM | Report abuse

psps23: Clearly, reading is not your strong point. It's virtually impossible not to interpret CP's radio comments -- ALL of them -- in a way that doesn't clearly indicate that he's coming from a VERY self-centered place.

He's whining. No question.

He's back-biting (he clearly SAID that coaching interference in the running game contributed to their second-half problems).

And, yes, he tossed his coaches (at least of them) under the bus.

And, for the fact that his teammates haven't publicly complained about CP . . . maybe some of them don't feel the need to whine to the radio when they're not happy with something. I haven't heard anybody chiming in on his side, either. Have you? Where's the groundswell of CP support from his teammates?

In the meantime, please feel free to restrict yourself to things I actually type. It'll help you.

Posted by: mdean3 | January 8, 2009 12:28 PM | Report abuse

mdean3 - It's painfully obvious you have difficulty with comprehension. I just quoted you, then analyzed your quote, then responded. Futhermore, I have never said that Portis wasn't self-centered, just that (by your own analysis) I could care less about that fact. Unless you somehow didn't pick up on the obvious jabs about how all we need is "unselfish back" to get us to the Super Bowl.

And thank you for confirming my suspicion. Complete subjective opinion by you, someone who has zero credibility when it comes to the inner workings of the Redskins locker room. Your idea of evidence that there's a problem is "nobody came to Clinton Portis' side" (paraphrase). Strong argument, that one. Excuse me while I prepare for litigation with that evidence.

Posted by: psps23 | January 8, 2009 12:57 PM | Report abuse


You said above, "I've NEVER heard any player, coach, or other member of the Redskins organization complain about Portis."

No, Portis does all the complaining.

You keep on lovin' that man. What's YOUR credibility? Do you REALLY, in your heart, think that CP's comments are good for the Skins? Really?

Posted by: mdean3 | January 8, 2009 1:04 PM | Report abuse

Portis has got to go. I don't care what the salary cap hit is. Send him on his way. We will never win with Clinton Portis.

Posted by: mbmmst | January 8, 2009 8:31 PM | Report abuse

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