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KRT: Snubs fuel Redskins' Portis


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Snubs fuel Redskins' Portis

Running back shows critics are wrong

September 3, 2004




MIAMI -- He comes from a small Southern town.

He went to a big-time college for his chosen profession.

Yet he still was underrated when he put himself on the national scene at a young age, and most people dismissed him.

When your name is Clinton and you're on the way to Washington, the road can be an interesting path.

In the case of Redskins running back Clinton Portis, his arrival in the nation's capital is almost a coronation of his spirit -- the part of him that ignored then-Florida coach Steve Spurrier when Spurrier wanted to make him a defensive back.

The part of him that ignored the naysayers who called him a glorified third-down back for the NFL.

The part of him that took a draft-day slight by Cleveland coach Butch Davis, the man who recruited him to the University of Miami, and turned it into fuel for a fabulous two-year career.

"I played with John Elway, Terrell Davis, Ray Lewis and Jamal Lewis," said former Denver and Baltimore tight end Shannon Sharpe, who won three Super Bowls with those teams. "Clinton is the best football player I've ever seen."


Portis is no longer defined by earning respect. Rather, he now invokes fear.

When Dolphins defensive tackle Larry Chester saw a video clip of Portis recently, he saw what he thought was impossible. As Portis was about to take a handoff, the pulling guard was smacked backward, about to fall into Portis' path. Portis started cutting before he had the ball in his hands. He still managed to gather the handoff and get through a hole for a gain.

"Everything was going on and he had the concentration to hold onto the rock and still make a cut like that and hit the hole right behind the guard," Chester said, shaking his head slightly. "I was real impressed with that."

Washington fans will be especially impressed if Portis can finally put the Redskins back among the elite, where they believe they're supposed to be. Portis is part of a renaissance in Washington, led by the return of coach Joe Gibbs after 12 years away from the sidelines.

Aside from Super Bowl thoughts, Gibbs has brought back five coaches from his days of winning three titles. There's offensive coordinator Don Breaux and linebackers coach Dale Lindsey. There's offensive line coach Joe Bugel, the father of the famed Hogs line who has named this current group the "Dirt Bags."

But all the coaching in the world doesn't mean much unless there is talent. In Portis, Gibbs might have the most electrifying running back in the league today. A little guy with the guts to run through the line and the speed to make the defense worry about the outside.

A guy with plenty of attitude, as well.


At heart, Portis still is a Hurricane.

There's still plenty of bitterness within Portis from the 2002 draft, when he was a second-round pick, No. 51 overall. He went behind five other UM players, including cornerback Mike Rumph, safety Ed Reed and tight end Jeremy Shockey.

Portis can accept some of that. The hard part is accepting how he was only the fourth running back taken, well behind William Green, T.J. Duckett and DeShaun Foster, and how Davis passed on him to take Green at No. 16 overall. Portis has made the NFL pay since.

"There's still people doubting me, even after all the yards. They're saying I'm just a product of the system," Portis said when the trade from Denver to Washington was completed. "Everytime I do something, people want to find some reason why it happened that isn't about me. That's cool. Just keeps me going."

This off-season, Washington paid to get Portis, dealing Pro Bowl cornerback Champ Bailey and a second-round pick to Denver for the rights to Portis. Washington also gave Portis an eight-year, $50.5-million contract, including $17 million in bonus money. All for a back who has played two years and wasn't eligible for a new contract until after the 2005 season.

The Redskins also traded for quarterback Mark Brunell, and bolstered the defense by drafting safety Sean Taylor out of UM.

It's all part of Redskins owner Dan Snyder's plan to finally have the contender he has tried to build on the strength of his deep pockets. During the years, Snyder has signed Deion Sanders, Bruce Smith and Dan Wilkinson -- expensive players who flopped because they were either past their prime or malcontents.

In Portis, Snyder has acquired a player who is at the top of his game. Quick, fast and exceptionally motivated. Still driven to prove the critics are fools.

Some critics dismiss Portis as merely the latest creation of Denver's rusher-friendly offense. Others among the Broncos have quietly said Portis wasn't tough, that if he got hit hard on a play he had a tendency to come out of games.

To Chester, that's a bunch of hooey. To him, Portis is this era's incarnation of Barry Sanders, the diminutive runner who juked and cut his way to the Hall of Fame.

"I have seen Sanders work. I have seen defensive linemen have so much fear for him that they would rather be at home than be in the stadium with him," Chester said. "Portis is on the road to being what Barry was and that's a huge compliment to be even mentioned in the same breath with Barry Sanders."

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This was a good read until i came across this:

During the years, Snyder has signed Deion Sanders, Bruce Smith and Dan Wilkinson

Dan Wilkinson was NOT signed by Snyder... sheesh, lets blame global warming on the guy too. Why cant these reporters take 5 minutes to look this stuff up on NFL.com? You KNOW damn well that he is using a COMPUTER to write his articles... USE THE INTERNET Jason Cole!

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Deinon Sanders and Bruce Smith weren't flops. They were on the decline, but they helped our defense dramatically. Dan Wilkinson was a mild flop, but wasn't Snyder's signing.

Why didn't this guy bring up Jeff George? That's the biggest boo boo that comes to mind.

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I've got my #26 jersey on right now. I really needed that article, too. We just haven't gotten to see enough of CP this preseason and I needed a little confidence-boost. That quote from Shannon Sharpe was quite an eye-opener. Headed to the game tonight.

I'm pumped!!


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