Clinton Portis’s defense of Dan Snyder


(Jonathan Newton / The Washington Post)

There were a few mentions in Rick Maese’s recent Dan Snyder opus about the owner’s continued relationship with Clinton Portis. To wit:

The owner’s influence has stretched at times into the locker room, perhaps most notably with former running back Clinton Portis. The two still chat often, and Portis said Snyder even sent him a text message last Wednesday at 12:01 a.m. wishing his former star player a happy new year.

“I think so many people are intimidated by Mr. Snyder and think he’s a jerk. In reality, he’s actually a fun guy,” Portis said. “Half the world hates you, half the world loves you. Your players love you. You don’t find that ironic that players never speak bad about Mr. Snyder and everyone else can’t stand him?”

These quotes came from a conversation between Portis and The Post’s Kent Babb, when college football bowl season placed the two men in the same location. And through devious means (I asked), I was able to listen to the entire conversation, which contained several other noteworthy nuggets. Also, transcribing fellow reporters’ interviews for blog content is really trailblazing stuff. Very proud of myself.

One of Portis’s strongest statements, as it turned out, came right at the beginning, when he was asked about Snyder’s maturation.

“I think he’s done everything that’s been asked,” the former running back said. “You know, I think he was [initially] hands-on. People wanted him to kind of [relinquish] that role and step behind the scenes, and he stepped behind the scenes. He gave up control and stopped dipping in as everyone asked. So as usual, I think Mr. Snyder has done everything asked of him, whether it’s bringing in players, whether it’s getting things done at the facility, whether it’s changing things around, whether it’s having the best staff available. So what more can you ask of him?”

Portis went on to talk about things that make him like and appreciate Snyder.

“I mean, you look at Mr. Snyder, he’s one of the easier people to talk to,” Portis said. “That’s basically it. You just need to go out and talk to him. I think so many people are intimidated by Mr. Snyder, and think Mr. Snyder is a jerk, but in reality he’s actually a fun guy. He’s in an opportunity where how can you trust? You’re Daniel Snyder, the owner of the Washington Redskins. Who can you trust? You know, half the world hates you, half the people love you. Your players love you — you don’t find that ironic that players never speak bad about Mr. Snyder and everyone else can’t stand him?…

“I just think he [goes] above and beyond. I think when you look at Mr. Snyder, to say why do I like him, really giving me the opportunity to be a Washington Redskins player, bringing me in, financially having me set, it even goes beyond that. On New Year’s I got a text from Mr. Snyder at 12:01 saying Happy New Year. So for that consideration alone, after you just fired Mike Shanahan and you’re going through this whole thing, just to have that moment to say Happy New Year’s, I think that says a lot. It’s always the little things that Mr. Snyder has done….

“I think the best thing he ever done was be able to listen and understand. You know, I think so many people had us confused, saying I went to Mr. Snyder to have my way. I never went to Mr. Snyder to have my way. I went to Mr. Snyder to talk life and learn to become a man, to try to learn business. I think for him to have shared those moments with me and sharing his story… [from] not having anything, becoming the person and the man that he is today, I think means a lot. I don’t think people understand. You can get to a situation in sports, most people, [when] to the world you’re at your highest, [and] with yourself you’re empty inside. I think I reached that point a couple times with the Washington Redskins, and always being able to go in and talk to him about it meant a lot….

“I think he might exaggerate his [childhood] conditions and try to make himself seem like he’s so tough and bad, but in reality, just knowing that was his path to where he is now. I mean, you look at becoming the youngest owner, the transition as a businessman, what he’s done with this organization from just that one person who believed when everybody else gave up on him. I think that story can relate to so many people. That’s all you need is one person to believe in you, and all of a sudden he blossomed.”

Obviously I’m omitting the questions here in favor of the response, but toward the end, there were a couple of queries that returned to this idea of maturation.

“He’s starting to get gray hairs,” Portis joked. “He’s learning. You know, if you were to buy the team today, I don’t think you’re gonna get it right from Day One. I think you’re gonna have to grow, you’re gonna have to learn the business, you’re gonna have to learn how to run it, the people you need to run it. All this was a learning experience. Most owners have their teams 20, 30 years. It’s passed down, it’s still in the family. You look at Mr. Snyder, that wasn’t the case …

“I think in D.C., man, they choose their own villain,” Portis continued later. “And once you become the villain, it’s hard to get out. I think when you look at Mr. Snyder, he’s gonna figure this out, that’s the good thing about it. The team isn’t gonna change. He’s gonna figure it out and he’s gonna get them headed in the right direction. And he’s not gonna be satisfied until he brings a championship back to that city. That’s the wonderful thing about it. Because as many people that’s gonna give up on the organization or the team, he’s not gonna give up, he’s not gonna bend, he’s not gonna change. That’s the positive. You know he’s in it for the long run.”

Dan Steinberg writes about all things DC sports at the DC Sports Bog.
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