Here’s a special contribution from Mr. Irrelevant Writer at Large JP Finlay.
For the past few years people called for Clinton Portis’ head, questioning his work ethic, his practice habits, his personal life and often his fashion choices. But I loved Portis. (Ed. note: So did we!)
Somehow, through a combination of dumb luck and credit card debt, a buddy and I made the trip to Tampa in 2006 for the Skins first playoff game in the Gibbs 2.0 era. Our seats were right behind CP’s mom, in the nosebleeds. She was passionate and flamboyant, wearing a 26 jersey complete with personalized gold rhinestones, just what you would expect from the woman who gave birth to this guy. I was also wearing a Portis jersey, sans rhinestones, and she hugged us and told us to cheer for her boy. She also gave the surrounding Tampa fans A LOT of shit when the Skins pulled out the win.
I bought the Portis jersey in 2004 when the Skins traded for him. I’ve worn it to 90 percent of the games I’ve been to since, including at the Linc, the Meadowlands, Tampa and whatever the stadium in Seattle is called.
Another session of dumb luck and credit card debt got me to that playoff game in 2008, a loss, and it was emotional. Seattle fans were loud and aggressive, and on the heels of Sean Taylor’s death earlier that season, some pretty vulgar stuff was said.
What was never said, at any of the away games where I wore #26, were questions of Portis’ effort on the field. CP is the best blocking RB I’ve ever seen, and I would make the claim he is in the conversation of best backfield blocker ever. This is a guy who injured himself in the PRESEASON making a hard hit on a Brunell duck/interception. Between the lines, the guy always went hard, and his hard was better than almost anyone else’s.
Anyone reading this far remembers his first run in his first game as a Redskin. The 65-yard TD. There was so much promise that day. So much excitement. Don’t forget that CP was a game-changing, dynamic RB in his Denver days. The swagger was deserved.
In the end, maybe his career with the Skins never lived up to the promise of that first run. And there were some ugly moments in between. But CP gave it his all every time he stepped on the field, playing through injury, inept coaching, inept ownership and many awful offensive linemen.
I’m glad to have experienced the CP era. I know he sacrificed explosiveness to fit the system. I never got mad at him; he was just a young man livin’.
And don’t worry about CP, his pockets straight.