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AP: Portis Wants Two Terms in D.C.


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http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/news/archive/2004/09/09/sports1819EDT0427.DTL&type=printable

Like Clinton, Portis wants two terms in D.C.

- JOSEPH WHITE, AP Sports Writer

Thursday, September 9, 2004

(09-09) 15:19 PDT ASHBURN, Va. (AP) --

In this presidential election season, there's a new T-shirt with the words "Run Clinton Run!" and "Eight more years!"

Not Bill Clinton. Clinton Portis.

The new Washington Redskins running back designed the shirt, which also includes a photo of Portis giving a victory sign and a mural of downtown monuments in the shape of Portis' jersey No. 26.

The eight years refers to Portis' eight-year, $50.5 million contract, which he signed after the Redskins acquired him for cornerback Champ Bailey in an offseason trade with the Denver Broncos. The shirts were meant as a gift for the team's offensive linemen -- the Dirtbags -- who will play an essential role if Portis is to prove he's worth his newfound riches.

"Steak, shrimp, lobster, anything to keep them looking like Dirtbags," Portis said. "It's really just one of the things that's getting people riled up around here. The O-line's excited about this opportunity having me to block for."

Portis has the look of a player who has landed in running back heaven. He was brought here by Joe Gibbs, a Hall of Fame coach who believes in establishing the run first, foremost and always. After two unsuccessful years under pass-happy Steve Spurrier, even the wideouts are thrilled to get back to basic, traditional football with a back like Portis.

"We're excited to have him," receiver Laveranues Coles said. "It takes a lot of pressure off the passing game. For teams to have to put that eighth man in the box, that opens up the passing game a lot more for us."

Portis is one of only three players in NFL history to rush for 1,500 yards in each of his first two seasons, playing so well for the Broncos that he outgrew his modest second-round-pick contract. Bailey-for-Portis was a rare swap of Pro Bowl players in search of different scenery and better money. Everyone will keep a keen eye on which team gets the better of the deal.

"You're not going to please everybody," Portis said. "I think Redskins fans are going to be happy with me, and I think Broncos fans are going to be happy with Champ. At the end of the day that's all that matters."

Portis did not get a chance to show much of his renowned speed and agility during the preseason, rushing just 20 times for 77 yards and one touchdown over five games. The light work left him healthy and ready to bear the regular-season load.

"Of course, I want to be the focal point," Portis said. "But I'm not going to pout if I'm not the man every game. ... People think we're going to run the ball 70 times a game and throw it 10; that's unrealistic. I'm going to get my runs. LC's going to get his catches. Rod (Gardner) is going to get his catches. We're going to have a lot of things going on."

When the pass plays are called, Portis will have to do his share of blocking in a scheme that stresses protecting the quarterback. At 205 pounds, Portis knows the hits he lays on blitzing linebackers -- along with the usual wear-and-tear of running the ball -- will take its toll over a season.

"If God's going to take me out of this offense, he's going to take me out," Portis said. "A year's worth of punishment, you can't show me one back who's going to go through the season getting pounded week-in, week-out, who's not going to be dinged."

Portis said he has high goals for the season, but he refused to state them because he doesn't want his words to come back and haunt him.

"If I high-five you at the end of the season," he said, "that means I met my expectations."

With details, perhaps, available on the next set of T-shirts.

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