It sometimes feels like every time Clinton Portis appears on the air, he says something that leaves me shaking my head — and, often, leaves one of his teammates with bus-tracks across his back. So my hopes for this — part one of his conversation with NBC-4′s Lindsay Czarniak, which aired last night — were not high.
But, as he so often does, Portis surprised me. The only guy Portis threw under the bus this time, as near as I could tell, was the 2009 Clinton Portis. Offseason Portis seemed genuinely remorseful for not attending more practices, and seemed very, very aware of how his actions through last season had been perceived.
“Now with the practice situation,” he tells Czarniak bluntly, “that’s something that should’ve been handled differently — on MY behalf. It should’ve been handled differently. But for everybody to know, even without the practice, I never stepped on the field on Sunday [when] I wasn’t prepared.”
Later, he adds, “Could I have participated in more? Yeah, I probably should have. Could I have fought through some? Yeah, I probably should have. But then it got to a point where when I was fighting through it, when I really wanted to fight through it and I was trying to fight through it, all of a sudden me fighting through it and being in pain comes out as the wrong thing to do.”
Portis knows new head coach Mike Shanahan from his days in Denver, and one thing he claims to like about the new Redskins head man is his candor. “The one thing I know about Mike Shanahan,” Portis says to Czarniak, “is [if] he got a problem with you, you’re gonna know about it from Mike Shanahan. He’s gonna call to his office, and he’s gonna tell you what you’re doing wrong and how he feels like you should correct it. And that’s the opportunity you gonna have to correct it. Now, the next time if he have to call you again or if you didn’t get it corrected, he not gonna keep harping on it, harping, harping, harping. He’s gonna go to the next guy.”
Well, here’s what Shanahan candidly had to say about Portis at his introductory news conference. “Like all players, as they get older, the key is how they work in the offseason program, and what they do to make themselves better as veterans. I’ve been around some veterans that have been very successful, and all of the sudden they quit working out, and as a running back you can fall off of a cliff. If you make a commitment that you’re going to be the best that you can possibly be, or you’ve got the passion and the work ethic to be as good as you can possibly be, then you’ve got a chance to be something special.”
So Portis knows that Shanahan is a straight shooter, knows that Shanahan mentioned his offseason work, and — it seems — expects to be back for 2010. As a result, he’s approaching this season with a much different kind of chip on his shoulder. “My dedication this year,” he says, “is to go and prove everybody who thought I was done, everybody who thought I wouldn’t be a Redskin, everybody who felt like I couldn’t do it anymore, is to go and prove all them people wrong. Now I have that same chip and desire to show you, you know, I really don’t see the next man.”
When offseason workouts roll around, it should be easy to see just how big that chip on Portis’s shoulder is.
Tags: Clinton Portis, lindsay czarniak, mike shanahan
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