Just before Donovan McNabb‘s Kids Football Clinic yesterday, I asked Clinton Portis when we might see the Clinton Portis Football Camp. The question was half-joking, but he answered completely seriously, noting that his friends Santana Moss and Edgerrin James had camps, and then musing, “So many people got ’em, it’s like, I could go to their camp. You go out to support theirs, it’s just like yours. When you’re here, everybody who’s [helping] here, it’s their camp, not just Donovan’s.”
Portis wasn’t kidding about this. He was manning the rushing drills station, along with Brian Westbrook and Eagles fullback Leonard Weaver, and the three backs were making enough noise to drown out the music, the air horn, and all 300 kids. They were making enough noise that the event organizer even took notice.
“That’s an entertaining group over there,” McNabb said.
McNabb continued, “You’ve got three different types of personalities with those three guys. Leonard is a hands-on, get-fiery guy. Clinton is a fiery guy, and Westbrook’s laid-back. But they’ve got competition going on over there. They’re doing more jumping around than the kids are.”
And Portis was the loudest of them all. He was exhorting kids, encouraging kids, shouting at kids, jawing at kids, and generally enjoying himself while coaching ’em up. Which came as something of a surprise, given that Portis has never been known as the biggest fan of practice.
When I mentioned that, though, McNabb rolled his eyes. “Maybe he doesn’t like practicing,” McNabb said. “None of us really LIKE practicing. But he has fun with it.”
In fact, McNabb said, the situation with Portis wasn’t entirely different from McNabb’s experiences in Philly. “Everybody looked at me and was [like], Aw, he doesn’t take anything serious, he’s always laughing. I enjoy what I do. He enjoys what he does. I was enjoying seeing him on TV with a new identity, you know? That whole deal. I think you need that on a team. You need people to loosen everybody up. Everything doesn’t have to be so serious all the time. You play the game; have fun doin’ it. And he’s doing it.”
That’s how Portis explained his enthusiasm as well. “You out here,” he told me, “you might as well have fun. These kids get one opportunity out of the year to hang with people they look up to, so you don’t wanna disappoint ’em or let ’em down.”
But it wasn’t all about having fun. As you can see in the picture at the top of this post, Portis was actually fairly stringent in his role as coach, requiring push-ups for all manner of infractions and shortcomings. “We’re around coaches all the time,” Brian Westrbrook said, “so we know what it takes to get the best out of kids, and that’s what he’s doin’ over there. We don’t mess around. We came over here to get things done, and we’re gettin’ ’em done.”
I asked Westbrook if he could imagine Portis as a coach, and he paused for a few seconds as we watched Portis correct the route one of the kids was running. “I think he’d be good position coach,” Westbrook said. “He has the experience and he knows what he’s talking about. He might be a great position coach. “
I asked Portis about the push-ups and he took my question as a criticism of his disciplinarian streak (it wasn’t), a criticism that he seemed to find appalling. “It’s just competition, having fun doin’ it,” he said. “I haven’t had one person complain, Oh, I gotta do push-ups. They understand the competition side of it. You win, you win. You lose? There’s consequences to losing.”
So? Could coaching be in Clinton Portis’s future. “Naw,” he said, looking at me as if were completely insane. “Not a thought.”
Tags: brian westbrook, Clinton Portis, donovan mcnabb
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