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Clinton Portis On Having Fun, Death, And Hang Gliding

Posted by Matt Terl on February 24, 2010 – 2:01 pm

Well, part two of Lindsay Czarniak’s interview with Clinton Portis aired last night (here’s my take on part one), and … well, it was a bit thinner on the ground than the earlier segment. It was more personal and less Redskins-oriented, which was clearly a deliberate editorial decision, but left me a bit less interested as a result.


Still, let’s look at a few things we can learn from this interview.

  • Given Portis’s enthusiasm for Burger King, it’s probably a good thing for him that those rumors of Bill Romanowski as special teams coach proved false, as Romo has railed against fast food breakfasts in the past.
  • Portis has an unheralded talent for using other people’s hypothetical quotes when he talks — things that he suspects other people are saying or would say. Here’s an example from this video; the rhetorical device I’m referring to is italicized: “I think people feel like I’ve got a nonchalant attitude, or I don’t care, or I’m the way I am.” When you hear him do it, you can always tell when he’s introducing a new hypothetical speaker. It’s a gift.
  • It’s endearing to see him with his kids. “I think they give you something to look forward to,” he says at one point. “It’s like, you’re not judged in kids’ eyes. You know, you don’t have to worry about — your child, when they wake up in the morning, the first thing they’re gonna do it this –” he extends his arms for a hug (or, possibly, to be picked up — I can’t tell). “You know, it’s gonna be open arms, they’re gonna say something funny, or look at you and lift your eyelid up.”

  • Portis is convinced he’s going to be the starting running back for the Redskins next year. “I know I will,” he tells Czarniak. “I’m not worried about that, because I know what I’m capable of. And, you know, even if I wasn’t and they brought another guy in, I would help that guy as much as I can because I wanna win. This is my ninth year in the NFL. I mean, I can’t sit back like, Oooo, I got forever. Now, I know my clock is ticking to be on my way out, but being on my way out is gonna be by my choice, knock on wood that God keeps me healthy.”
  • The view from Portis’s apartment is excellent for seeing the sites of Miami, and for determining how bad traffic on 95 is. Practical AND appealing.
  • Clinton Portis has a very different idea of what makes a good vacation than I do. I like relaxation, good food, maybe a few beverages. He apparently goes in for deep ruminations on life. Which then lead, as such things do, to some extreme sports. “I think it was so beautiful in Brazil, it was just like the idea, like, if I was to die today, this would be the perfect place to die. I think that’s a crazy way of thinking, but it’s really accepting death. And I think I accepted death, and then I got into the truck and rode to the top of the mountain and went hang gliding.”
  • He is also adept at turning those extreme sports experiences into metaphors that seem somehow significant and portentous for his career — as “running” turns to “flying” here — although less significant the more you think about them. “I went and stood on the little runway,” he says, as he continues to describe his hang gliding experience to Czarniak, “and I was like, Nah, I can’t do it. Probably about 25 people went before me and I figured, Well, they all landed safely so this’s gotta be safe. And once you make up your mind there’s really no changing. You get on this little runway, and it’s just, like, 1-2-3 run, and you’re just supposed to run until your feet dangle in the air like on a cartoon, and when you open your eyes, you’re flying.”

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