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Portis compares the Redskins to The U

I rushed up a transcript of Clinton Portis's comments on Tiger Woods Tuesday afternoon, because that was the most colorful part of his weekly appearance on ESPN 980's John Thompson Show. But that probably wasn't the most germane segment to Redskins fans.

Barry Svrluga spoke at length with Portis on Tuesday about his own future; read about that here. But on his radio show, Portis also talked about the future of the Redskins franchise. For example, at one point, he was asked for his thoughts about continuity versus change in the coaches' office.

"I mean, I think that's a decision they've got to make," Portis said, referring to team ownership. "Really, I think the players on our team used to the change, and used to bringing in new people. And I think at the same time, the players on our team would love to just know whoever's coming in or whoever's there's gonna be there. You could do away with all this thought process of Do we got to learn a new system, will we have a new coach, will we have this? But whatever the situation is, we've got to go out and respond. We've got to go out and play for whoever is the head coach, and give it all we've got."

John Thompson asked Portis what he thinks when he hears people saying how much better the team has been playing without its stars; Portis said he has no complaints with that line of discussion.

"I mean, I agree to it," he said. "I think they are playing better. I think they're playing together. I mean, you give guys an opportunity to go out and stand up, and I think these guys are doing that. I think everybody fighting together, nobody gave up, and everybody's playing for an opportunity. I think everybody in the NFL's waiting for an opportunity, and when they finally get it, they go out and give everything they've got."

And finally, Doc Walker brought up the recent ESPN documentary about The U. Doc talked about how Portis's school put together such a long tradition of winning, and then turned it into an NFL question, asking basically how the Redskins could replicate or encourage such continued success.

"Well, if you look at what The U had through those times, it was all guys who enjoyed what they were doing," Portis said. "You know, you had the same character guys, you found guys to plug in when other guys left. When Michael Irvin left, you found Randal Hill and Lamar Thomas and guys who could keep that going. When there was a mass change, you found a guy who could come in who had the same attitude, who had the same goal, who had the same mindset and could adapt to what was going on. And all those guys were from the same background coming in to the University of Miami, and was looking forward to a winning tradition. I think you found the type of guys back then that you knew you could go out and win with, and that was gonna give it everything they had.

"And I think if you look at our roster, we have an assortment of everything, but guys got to come together. I think there's some guys on our team want to have fun, and some guys on our team treat it like business, and some guys on our team who treat it like, Well, hmm, I don't know if I can do that, who worried about being around instead of letting their play do the talking for them. So you've just got to find some group of guys with a common goal.

"You look back to the Ravens when the Ravens was having so much fun, or you look back to Pittsburgh and the talent that they had, running around and what they had. You even look at the Saints now, it looks like the Saints have fun in doing what they're doing....Teams that winning, you've got a bunch of guys jumping around and having fun and enjoying what they're doing. I think you need that."

By Dan Steinberg  |  December 16, 2009; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  Redskins  
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Steinz, a comment: I thought it's a journalistic standard that a nickname or acronym should always be spelled out or explained upon first use. Like writing "The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) announced today...".

I'm asking that because I had no idea what "the U" was and I had to read down to the last part of the seventh paragraph of your post to learn it's a nickname for the University of Miami. And I learned that from someone else's quote, not from your copy.

Do you have lower standards on your blog posts than on your copy?

Posted by: greggwiggins | December 16, 2009 10:30 AM | Report abuse

"I think there are some players who just want to have fun"

This is Portis and Cooley. Get rid of both of them. We dont need a guy who wears costumes and we dont need a guy who shows his dong on the internet.


Posted by: tallertapas311 | December 16, 2009 10:56 AM | Report abuse

@greggwiggins - Come on man its a blog about sports and you didn't know what the U was? Really? Have you not watched ESPN in the last 2 weeks? Have you never read anything about the Redskins and Sean Taylor, Moss, Portis, McIntosh etc? Ripping Steins for the is pretty ridiculous in my opinion.

Posted by: bigcountry22 | December 16, 2009 11:01 AM | Report abuse

Boy, is he dumb on every level. Can't wait until he's cut. I'm sure Big John and crew look forward to a weekly guest Redskin who can speak the English language and simply make sense.

Posted by: matthewrayman | December 16, 2009 11:21 AM | Report abuse

I have to laugh. Portis talking about character guys at "the U" and then mentions Michael Irvin, Randall Hill and Lamar Thomas. I watched that documentary and it really almost made me sick - those Miami teams were good players but that was the beginning of the deterioration of sportsmanship in football and maybe sports in general. The taunting, posing, stupid dancing, gyrations, thuggery was just downright embarassing - they won games but they embarassed themselves and their school while doing so. Then you listen to them talk about it twenty-some years later and you realize they still think it was acceptable.

And - no one calls the University of Miami "the U" other than these football guys. Actual students who go/went there don't call it "the U". They find it demeaning because it associates them with these derogatory memories most people have of these guys.

Posted by: AsstGM | December 16, 2009 11:37 AM | Report abuse

bigcountry22; that's kind of narcissistic, assuming that everyone follows the same sports that you do. No, I'm not a football fan and I don't (in my opinion) waste my time reading anything about the Redskins.

I find football really boring and too slow. Did you ever read that study George Allen did for the National Football League which determined that in the typical 3+ hour pro football game there's only about 12 minutes of actual game action?

My lack of interest in football is why in the last two weeks I've spent much more time watching Comcast Sports Net and the NHL Network than ESPN because my preferred sport at this time of year is hockey. The University of Miami doesn't have much of a hockey program so it's very unlikely I would have run across that nickname of "the U" on either of those cable outlets in the timeframe you suggested.

It's also a pretty basic convention in the journalism biz that you do not use acronyms or nicknames without explaining them on first reference. Look at the example I cited; I think a large majority of readers would know what NASA stands for and what the agency does. Even so, it's considered standard practice to identify NASA with its full name the first time it's written about.

Because even if it's a small fraction of your readers who don't know an acronym or nickname it's the reporter's job to inform ALL of their readers -- which means not assuming everyone knows an acronym or a nickname but taking the extra ten seconds and ten words (or fewer) to explain it.

And if Steinz has too thin a skin for a little constructive criticism such as mine, he's not going to last very long in any newsroom in the industry. I doubt both of those -- I think he's more than able to handle a little bit of fair commentary pointing out what I consider in error in his copy, and I think he's going to be around writing about sports for quite a long time.

Posted by: greggwiggins | December 16, 2009 11:45 AM | Report abuse

Nah, @greggwiggins, no offense whatsoever. I do think many (most?) sports fans know what the U is, but I'm not surprised that some wouldn't.

As for the style question, I believe technically the rule is that blogs/web stories/paper stories all follow the same style conventions. In practice, though, there's no chance. I write things in first person, use slang-y words, use [bleep] for profanities, use "gonna," etc all the time, and none of those fly in most news stories. I don't think it would be a great blog if it read exactly like a newspaper story.

So I will probably break occasional rules until someone tells me to stop. Though I'm not trying to confuse readers, so if people don't know what the U is, maybe I should have explained.

Posted by: DanSteinberg1 | December 16, 2009 11:58 AM | Report abuse


Don't make us revoke your internets privileges.

How can you read a post about Clinton Portis, write a comment criticizing the "journalistic standard" of the author and then defend the comment with "I'm not a football fan and I don't (in my opinion) waste my time reading anything about the Redskins"? Didn't you have to read the post about the redskins to offer the constructive criticism?

-5 internets for you.

Posted by: Mustachio | December 16, 2009 12:19 PM | Report abuse

@Mustachio; I read it (really, I skimmed it) because I was curious what "the U" was. I didn't expect it to take seven-plus paragraphs to get a question from the headline answered.

Posted by: greggwiggins | December 16, 2009 12:38 PM | Report abuse

@Mustachio, before this morning if you'd asked me who Clinton Portis is, I wouldn't have known. I now know he's a member of the Redskins but that's all, since I didn't pay any attention to other details while trying to answer my question about what Steinz meant by "the U".

Posted by: greggwiggins | December 16, 2009 12:40 PM | Report abuse

To the first comment:

Who the heck doesn't know what "The U", "Da U" is? Especially when talking to Clinton Portis. Comon.

Also, this is a blog, not exactly something that is held to the higher journalistic standards that an actual news article is.

Posted by: fmc5 | December 16, 2009 12:42 PM | Report abuse

Hey Stein,


Posted by: hessone | December 16, 2009 12:48 PM | Report abuse

@fmc5, someone who doesn't pay any attention to football is who doesn't know what "the U" is.

As I wrote earlier, if the University of Miami had a hockey program (or if this was about the excellent hockey team at Miami of Ohio) or if "the U" was used in references to the many Hurricanes' baseball players who've gone on to professional success I probably would have been familiar with the nickname.

But neither of those are the case, so I wasn't.

The same with Clinton Portis -- since I don't pay any attention to football I had no idea who he is before I read about him in this entry.

"Also," what's wrong with having high standards? Dan Steinberg wrote in this thread at 11:58am today, "the rule is that blogs/web stories/paper stories all follow the same style conventions." Are you saying the author of the Sports Bog shouldn't hold himself to the standards that he does hold himself to?

Posted by: greggwiggins | December 16, 2009 12:54 PM | Report abuse


We get your point.

Posted by: hessone | December 16, 2009 1:25 PM | Report abuse


Don't tell me you didn't know post is about the Redskins when the title clearly reads: "Portis compares the Redskins to The U"

-10 internets

Posted by: Mustachio | December 16, 2009 1:37 PM | Report abuse

@Mustachio, I never wrote that I didn't know the post was about the Redskins -- I wrote that I don't care about the Redskins or football, so I don't pay any attention to a large majority of material about the team or the league or that sport in general.

I also said why I read it -- not because it was about the Redskins and not because it was about Clinton Portis but because I was curious about the nickname and I wanted to learn what "the U" meant.

Posted by: greggwiggins | December 16, 2009 1:50 PM | Report abuse

@gregwiggins: "I thought it's a journalistic standard that a nickname or acronym should always be spelled out or explained upon first use. Like writing "The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) announced today..."

Greg, I'm just wondering. Are you a tenured professor or a graduate assistant?

Posted by: ExPatYankee | December 17, 2009 5:22 AM | Report abuse


Blogs are generally, in practice, written more informally than actual newspaper articles.

As such, the writer has the literary license to pretty much do what (s)he pleases. If you don't like it, you don't have to read it. While that argument applies to newspaper articles as well, the intent is different. Newspaper stories, sans editorial, are supposed to give you straight up news minus the slant/opinion/curiosities, etc. that a blog throws up.

Also, here's a quicker way to get what you wanted:

Posted by: hailbg | December 17, 2009 5:23 AM | Report abuse

@ExPatYankee, no, I'm not an academic. I've spent 42 years writing news copy on deadline for pay. And the rule I pointed out to Steinz is a rule I've always followed whether the final output is going to be on a printed page or a computer screen.

Posted by: greggwiggins | December 17, 2009 8:31 AM | Report abuse

Before we start talking about player changes etc in the off-season, we best get a Gen. Mgr that is football knowledgable. Give him the command that he needs and THEN WE CAN TALK ABOUT CHANGES. The present VP of Football Operations has proven to be a 10 year DUD.

Posted by: aspook | December 17, 2009 10:21 AM | Report abuse

greggwiggins...I am confused. What does biz stand for again? And this thing called the NHL? Never heard of it. Maybe you should explain it on its first use so the rest of us know what you are referring to.

Posted by: pyledrive1 | December 17, 2009 10:38 AM | Report abuse

OK @pyledrive1, that tweak I feel is my own petard. But even if I didn't follow the usual standards for publication in an article in my comments (although several have told me here that the standards for a blog post, much less comments on a blog post, are more relaxed) are you taking the position that two wrongs make a right?

Posted by: greggwiggins | December 17, 2009 11:01 AM | Report abuse

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