Among the many entertaining sports-radio appearances Clinton Portis made during his years with the Redskins, perhaps none was as memorable as his angry on-air confrontation with Brian Mitchell in September of 2008. That exchange was about as friendly as a sleep-deprived fasting Philly fan, and it included repeated promises from Portis that he would not be silenced.
“Portis gonna keep talking,” he said at one point. “The fools saying Portis need to shut up, they can kiss Portis’s [behind]. I’m saying that. Ain’t nothing gonna change.”
The Clinton Portis I talked to a few days ago was considerably less angry, but his basic message was the same. The second-leading rusher in Redskins history is a few weeks into his new career as a talking head, and he has no interest in being any more demure than he was during his playing days.
“Any time I spoke, I spoke the truth,” he told me. “There was no hidden agenda about who I was talking to, or what I was talking about, compared to sources say or so-and-so-says. So I think for myself — being a stand-up person — for those few stand-up guys that are out there, I can help them get their point across or help them be understood.”
Portis has already been co-hosting a two-hour Monday night show with former linebacker Channing Crowder, on 560 WQAM in his hometown of Miami. For the next two Sundays, he will make his semi-official debut as a D.C. media personality, serving as a guest analyst on Comcast SportsNet’s pre- and postgame Redskins programs. Irony of ironies, he will do so on the same set as Mitchell, his longtime antagonist.
“That’s behind us,” Portis promised. “We squashed it. It’s over and done with. I think working with B-Mitch will be great. I now have an opportunity to learn a lot from B-Mitch, and kind of being in his role now is actually interesting. Now I have to communicate and work with and get tips from this man, learn the ways of the media. Having B-Mitch as a mentor or [receiving] guidance is just showing you a different lane.”
Portis isn’t exactly sure what his media dream job would be, but his Miami experience has made him increasingly interested in radio, because it’s “just so fun,” he said. “You just tell the truth, and help the listener relate to what you’re saying.”
And whether he admits it or not, the thing that makes Portis most compelling is the anticipation that his version of the truth might just make headlines. Like, ask him about Robert Griffin III’s health concerns, and you’ll hear an implicit critique of the offensive line in front of him.
“He’s really been a sitting duck,” Portis said. “You’ve got to be worried about the hits he’s taking. He don’t know any better right now. Any quarterback gets hit that many times, he’s not gonna play a full season, I don’t care who it is. Get the ball out of your hands and put the ball in the hands of someone who can absorb it. When your quarterback is taking more hits than your running back takes? You’ve got to say something.”
Still, Portis insists his will be a message of positivity in this media landscape, a respite from the weekly voices of panic and disgust.
“We’re close, it’s going to happen, we’re turning over a new leaf,” he said of the Redskins. “And I don’t think people are putting that out there in the media… I just really don’t think people give them the time to transition.”
Do you reckon this philosophy will keep Portis from criticizing a poorly performing player? Well, I don’t.
“I still don’t think I would be a finger pointer or calling people out, but I’m gonna tell the truth — I’ll tell the truth about what’s going on,” he promised. “You don’t have to say, This guy [stinks] — get the truth out about why this guy [stinks]. Maybe he do [stink], but give the truth about why he [stinks].”