Keeping Tabs on Washington's Team

"I've Never Been a 'Me' Guy": Portis

By Jim Iovino and Dan Hellie
|  Thursday, Jun 17, 2010  |  Updated 5:30 PM EDT
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Portis Defends Practice-Game Day Decisions

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Portis Sets the Record Straight

Clinton Portis talks about his role and future with the Washington Redskins.

Portis Defends Practice-Game Day Decisions

Clinton Portis defends his decisions about not practicing and playing on game days.
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Let's set the record straight -- there are two things Clinton Portis wants you to know.

No. 1: There's no way he's a selfish NFL player who puts himself before the team.

No. 2: He's perfectly content with all of the competition the Redskins have created at the running back position headed into camp this summer.

So despite all of the radio chatter and all the words written online and in the newspapers, Portis isn't upset about his current role with the Redskins -- whatever that may be.

While some have questioned Portis's effort at mid-week practices during the regular season, he said he has given everything to the team on game days. And perhaps unlike some other players on the current roster, he doesn't think of himself first.

"I've never been a 'me' guy," Portis said. "You all have been around me long enough to know what I'm about. ... Of course, I'm going to stand for what I believe in. I'll take up for myself. If that makes me a 'me' guy, then I guess I was a 'me' guy."

But, he said, "I always put team first and gave everything that I had."

Portis said he actually practiced more with coach Jim Zorn than he did during the Joe Gibbs era.  But when the losses started mounting, focus turned to his lack of practice during the week.  Portis said that wasn't the problem, however.

"All of a sudden in the Coach Zorn era, that's what it was," Portis said. "All the problems that we had, the main problem was Clinton not practicing. It was whatever Clinton was doing, that was the cause of what was going on at Redskins Park. Therefore I stopped coming around Redskins Park. Then the cause was I wasn't a team guy, I didn't care. But when I was there, it was always, 'Well he's just standing around.' No matter what I did, it was a no-win situation."

So all of those rumors last season and during the off-season took a toll on his reputation. And when rumors started flying about who was going to be the team's next head coach after Zorn, there was definitely some uncertainty about his own future with the team.

But in the end, Mike Shanahan got the job. Portis said that if someone else was head coach besides Shanahan, he might have been looking for work elsewhere.

"Anybody else would have bought into the criticism of me," Portis said. "You're talking a year ago from the day they claimed I 'lost it,' I was leading the NFL in rushing. Then a year later it is, 'He's was washed up.' I can't do it."

Even still, the Redskins brought in plenty of competition for Portis over the off-season, adding Larry Johnson and Willie Parker, making the Skins' backfield one of the most-crowded in the league.

Once again, rumors started flying that Portis wasn't happy and that he thought the team was trying to push him out.

Not so, Portis said.

"Once I talked to Coach Shanahan and Bruce Allen, I realized I was a part of the plan, that their goal was to go out and make sure the Redskins were in position to compete," Portis said. "They brought in competition. They brought in guys who got the same hunger and desire. If anything happens, knock on wood, or goes wrong, we -- as in the Redskins organization -- will be fine. Whoever is in the backfield will be able to carry the load. I think that was a great idea."

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