Clinton Portis Retires (With No Regrets)

“My heart just wasn’t in it”, said number 26, Clinton Portis, today at Redskins Park where he announced that he is walking away from the game of professional football - at least as a player.  

Clinton Portis walks away from football.  Photo/CD Brown.
The man who ranks second in Redskin history in rushing yardage (6824), carries (1667), and rushing touchdowns (46) said today that his heart was no longer in the game.
With eyes welling up while trying not to cry in front of reporters, his parents and twin sons Chaz and Camdin, Clinton, who spoke in front of the media for almost 40 minutes said of his career “it was a great ride and a fabulous” one.
Portis was brought to Washington after leaving Denver where he originally saw fame with Mike Shanahan (Redskins’ current head coach) and the Broncos as a second-round NFL Draft pick in 2002 (51st overall).  Portis spent his first two seasons (2002-03) in Denver posting at least 1,500 rushing yards and at least 14 touchdowns in each of his first two years. His 5.5 yards-per-carry average across those two seasons was the league’s best among players with at least 200 carries.
Although not present at Portis’ retirement press conference, Shanahan commented at the completion of practice, on his famous running back retiring from football. 
“I had him in Denver and drafted him. I remember taking a look at him and I said, ‘This guy is probably the most physical back I’ve ever been around.’ The way he would pass protect, he was just so tough. It didn’t matter if it was a linebacker or a defensive lineman; he was going to stick his face in there. He never held back anything. He did such a great job running for us (Denver) and had so many good plays.”

Subbing for Shanahan?
Clinton Portis shares a laugh with Skins' owner Daniel Snyder. Photo/CD Brown.
Shanahan described Portis as “tough”, “a natural leader”, and someone he said “really enjoyed being around”.

Shanahan released Portis (and several other storied Redskin players) in 2010 shortly after his first season as head coach.  Reaction to the decision from fans, staff, and players was mixed.
And so it was on the news of his retirement.   Rhondell Portis, Clinton’s mother and favorite cheerleader, said she was “sad” upon learning of her son’s decision to retire, but is also happy he is retiring as a Redskin. 

“I shed some tears”, Mrs. Portis said, “But in the end I’m happy I have my family and our health.”
The next chapter in the Chronicles of Clinton Portis has yet to be completely determined or fully disclosed- (aside from chauffeuring two lively, four-year old twin boys to football practice).
“We’ll just go along with the issue.” said Mrs. Portis  who arrived at Redskins Park adorned in purple hair color, purple lipstick, matching purple eye shadow, metallic gray dress and matching pumps, and diamond necklace around her neck with the number 26, her son’s number in Denver, and as a Redskin. 

Rhondell Portis, Clinton's mother, sports a diamond necklace with her son's Redskin jersey number.  Photo/CD Brown.

“When we came here”, said Mrs. Portis, “somebody already had that number.  I was hoping he’d get another number.”
When we asked why, she told us:  “So I could get another necklace.  Come on now”, she disclosed.
A diamond necklace wasn’t the only fancy item Mrs. Portis received, courtesy of her talented son.
The son of a truck driver and mother who cleaned nursing homes for a living, Portis explained how his football career enabled his family, especially his mother, to get the things in life they always wanted. 

Portis with his twin sons Chaz (left) and Camdin (right), aged 4.  Photo/CD Brown.
“My mother always wanted a purple house, and a jaguar”, said Portis.  “Well, she got the purple house.” A house his mother referred to as ‘the Purple Palace’.
Portis revealed that the color purple, to his mother, meant royalty; calling his mother a “queen”.  “She’s always been my queen”, Portis said.
And the jag?  She has that too.
The career of one Clinton Portis (a.k.a #26, a.k.a. ‘C.P.’ - a name bestowed upon him by teammate Marcus Washington) reads like a fairy tale of NFL running backs.  He ranks 27th all-time in rushing yardage. He is one of only 22 players in NFL history to account for 75 rushing touchdowns in his career, a total that exceeds Pro Football Hall of Famers such as Earl Campbell (74), Steve Van Buren (69) and Thurman Thomas (65).
During his playing career from 2002-10, Portis’ 9,923 rushing yards in that time frame were the second-most in the NFL, trailing only LaDainian Tomlinson. Portis also ranked second in combined rushing and receiving yards with 11,941, and ranked third in rushing touchdowns behind Tomlinson (134) and Shaun Alexander (84).
“He was remarkable how he played the game”, said Redskin linebacker Lorenzo Alexander. “If I could compare myself to him I’d say I try to emulate his passion for the game.”
Portis’ passion and hard work for the game recently earned him the title of one of the 80 Greatest Redskins of All-Time, an honor revealed by Skins’ owner Daniel Snyder during Portis’ retirement announcement.
Are stats like those the makings of a candidate for the prestigious and elite NFL Hall of Fame?
“If you base it on heart”, said Portis, “I’d be in there.”  “I gave football my all.  I gave DC my all.” 
Portis, in his hey day, running through his opponents. 
Portis may have given his all on the field, but he also gave DC a few colorful characters during his DC tenure; among them a flamboyant, big sunglasses wearing, multi-colored wig wearing character named Southeast Jerome, and another Portis favorite - Sheriff Gonna Get Cha - characters Portis said helped him get through the rough times during his career.

Some took issue with his off-the-field antics, while others went along with his jovial side played out in various characters.  To them Portis had this to say: “Those who know me, love me.  People who judge me, don’t know me.”
What we do know of Portis is that when he wasn’t dressing up as SE Jerome, or the town’s sheriff, he would often say what was on his mind, and in his heart – even if it meant calling out his own teammates.

Portis dressed as one of his charactersas, 'Dr. Do Itch Big'. Notice the 'purple' glasses.
He often called out players who he thought weren’t performing up to par, or to the Clinton Portis standard. 
Former teammate Mike Sellers was one such target.
Portis told us that in hindsight, he probably should have addressed the issue directly with Sellers, instead of having the issue play out in the media.
Clinton was good at getting his name out in the media.
In 2007, shortly after the funeral of his fellow Redskin teammate Sean Taylor(murdered in his Miami home during a home invasion), Portis blasted former Redskin player LaVar Arrington for speaking about his Miami University teammate as though he knew Taylor as a close friend.
“You didn’t know him like that”, Portis said in a radio interview of Arrington’s relationship with Taylor, a relationship that Arrington still defends.
When we asked Portis why he made such a sentiment, Portis answered, “Because it was in my heart”.
Despite the accusation, Portis described Arrington as someone who often visited and slept at his home and as a “close teammate”.  Arrington revealed during his sports radio talk show that the bond between he and Portis was such that they often sat next to each other on the airplanes that carried them from game to game.
A bizarre, yet almost forgiving exchange between two former Redskins - about a third Redskin – all three who gave everything they had on the field for the game they loved to become one of the 80 Greatest Redskins of All-Time.
But today will be about Clinton Portis, the man Redskin owner Dan Snyder described as a man who provided excitement from the first time he touched the ball as a Redskin. 
“We were lucky to witness every ounce of energy, effort and passion he has given ever since.”
Whatever the next path for Portis will be, one can be guaranteed that Portis will first be true to himself, say what’s on his mind, and that his pockets “will be straight.”


The 80 Greatest Redskins

The Washington Redskins announced the 10 members of the organization selected to join the 70 Greatest Redskins named in 2002 and complete the 80 Greatest Redskins of All-Time.The 10 winners include LaVar Arrington, Bobby Beathard, Joe Bugel, Terry Hermeling, Jon Jansen, Roy Jefferson, Richie Petitbon, Clinton Portis, Chris Samuels and Sean Taylor.

The winning 10 members of the organization, selected by fans and a blue ribbon panel, were honored at the 51st Annual Welcome Home Luncheon at the JW Marriott Hotel in Washington, D.C., on Friday in celebration of the team’s 80th Anniversary.
Arrington spent 2000-05 with the Redskins after the team selected the linebacker with the No. 2 overall pick of the 2000 NFL Draft. The Penn State product earned three consecutive Pro Bowl selections from 2001-03, setting different single-season career highs in each year — interceptions in 2001 (three), sacks in 2002 (11.0) and forced fumbles in 2003 (six). He was named second-team Associated Press All-Pro in each of those three seasons.
Beathard served as the General Manager of the Redskins from 1978-89, helping to construct and refine a roster that was one of the most dominant in the National Football League for more than a decade. In Beathard’s 12 seasons as Redskins General Manager, the team won 126 combined regular season and postseason games, more than any other NFL franchise. Beathard’s teams appeared in three Super Bowls, including winning titles in Super Bowls XVII and XXII.

Bugel became one of the most beloved position coaches in the history of professional football during multiple tenures overseeing the Redskins’ offensive line from 1981-89 and 2004-09. Bugel, or “Buges” as he was affectionately known, was responsible for one of the most dominant offensive lines in NFL history as well as the creation of one of the most endearing nicknames in sports history: “The Hogs.”

Hermeling grew from an undrafted prospect out of Nevada-Reno into a dominant tackle during his tenure with the Redskins from 1970-80. Hermeling appeared in 120 regular season games in his 11 seasons with Washington, blocking for backs such as Larry Brown and John Riggins. He helped lead the burgundy and gold to the 1972 NFC Championship.

Jansen appeared in 126 regular season games for the Redskins from 1999-2008, earning 123 starts on the offensive line. The Michigan product started in 80 consecutive regular season games plus two playoff games from 1999-2003. He and Chris Samuels formed one of the league’s top tackle duos in the early 2000s, as both played a pivotal role in helping running back Clinton Portis set a team record for rushing yards in a single season in 2005 (1,516).

Jefferson was a dynamic threat at receiver for the Redskins from 1971-76, amassing 208 receptions for 3,119 receiving yards and 16 receiving touchdowns during his six seasons in burgundy and gold. During his time in Washington, he was second only to Pro Football Hall of Famer Charley Taylor for the team lead in receptions and receiving yards in that six-year span, as the duo helped propel the Redskins to their first Super Bowl appearance following the 1972 season.

Petitbon played safety for the Redskins for two seasons from 1971-72 but truly left his mark on the organization as a coach from 1978-93, including serving as the team’s defensive coordinator from 1981-92. Petitbon is one of three members of the organization to have appeared in all five of the team’s Super Bowl appearances as either a player or coach. In 2011, Petitbon was inducted as the 45th member in the team’s Ring of Fame.

Portis spent seven years of his nine-year NFL career in Washington from 2004-10, compiling 6,824 rushing yards with the Redskins, the second-most in team history. Portis, who announced his retirement at Redskins Park on Thursday, is responsible for the two-most prolific rushing seasons in team history, posting a franchise-record 1,516 rushing yards during the 2005 season and putting together a 1,487-yard season in 2008.

Samuels was one of the game’s most dominant left tackles during his career from 2000-09, all 10 seasons of which were spent in Washington. Drafted by the Redskins out of Alabama with the No. 3 selection in the 2000 NFL Draft, Samuels started every single one of the 141 regular games and three playoff games in which he appeared. Samuels is one of five players in Redskins history to be selected to at least six Pro Bowls, as he earned berths in 2002-03 and 2005-08.

Taylor played in parts of four seasons in Washington from 2004-07 before his tragic passing. The No. 5 overall pick by the Redskins in the 2004 NFL Draft, Taylor twice earned Pro Bowl honors, including becoming the league’s first posthumous selection in 2007. The Miami (Fla.) product spent his three-plus seasons as one of the league’s most-feared hitters and one of its most athletic safeties, notching 12 interceptions and eight forced fumbles in his 57 career combined regular season and postseason games.