Portis Recants Words About Dogfighting

By Jason La Canfora
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Washington Redskins running back Clinton Portis said yesterday that his controversial remarks about dogfighting were insensitive and that he now realizes he "shouldn't have made the comments."

The remarks overshadowed news that the running back's tendinitis is progressing well, according to Bubba Tyer, the team's director of sports medicine. Portis will miss the team's minicamp (June 15-17) but the Redskins "fully expect" Portis will be ready for training camp in late July.

Portis, 25, created a storm of criticism a few weeks ago when asked about Atlanta quarterback Michael Vick, who is under investigation for dogfighting at a property he owned in Virginia. At the time, Portis told a Norfolk television station: "It's his dogs. If that's what he wants to do, do it." Those remarks drew a rebuke from Commissioner Roger Goodell, who said, "I'm extremely disappointed and embarrassed for Clinton Portis."

Portis then reiterated his belief that dogfighting -- a felony in Virginia -- was not that serious a crime during an interview on the NFL Network in late May, but was remorseful when speaking to local reporters for the first time this offseason yesterday at Redskins Park.

"A couple of weeks ago, when I made those comments I didn't understand the seriousness behind it," Portis said. "I didn't know it would affect that many people, and didn't think what I said was that offensive. But after doing some research and seeing how serious people take this, I shouldn't have made the comments. I'm going to just leave it alone and hopefully it will die down and people will understand that. At that time I had no idea the love people have for animals, and I didn't consider it when I made those comments."

Portis said he received an outpouring of mail and informational pamphlets from critics, and paid more attention to the way humans and animals interact. He recently noticed a woman caring for her dog at an airport and thought about television coverage of people weeping over a whale that was stuck in a canal, and reconsidered his remarks.

Portis also said he believes part of the comments from his television interview were taken out of context -- the rest of the interview had been lighthearted and funny, he said -- but nonetheless wishes he had kept his mouth shut when asked about Vick.

"From now on I don't comment on nobody," Portis said. "My life is the only thing I control. What other people do, I'm going to let them continue doing it."

Portis, who said he has never had pets, excluding fish, said he has not spoken to Vick since the incident, but hopes the star is able to "get out" of the situation.

Portis has spent much of this offseason rehabbing on his own from shoulder surgery that curtailed his 2006 season, but reported to Redskins Park last week to begin working out here.

Portis, who carried nearly 700 times in his first two seasons in Washington (2004-2005), rushed just 127 times in eight games last season. He injured his shoulder in the opening preseason game and never returned to top form, then broke his hand in mid-November and did not return.

Tailback Ladell Betts starred in his absence, and with Portis working back into shape after a long layoff and multiple surgeries, it remains to be seen how the players rotate in the backfield this season.

But the latest issue with his knee is not a major concern, Portis said. "I'll definitely be ready for training camp," he said.

Redskins Notes: After a long offseason filled with multiple surgeries, including a major hip procedure, star linebacker Marcus Washington was cleared to return to full practice. "It was great to see him back out there," end Andre Carter said. "I know how hard he's worked to get back." . . .

Backup quarterback Mark Brunell, who underwent labrum surgery this offseason, said he will be able to practice fully beginning today. Brunell had been limited to mostly shorter throws in drills . . .

Cornerback Shawn Springs, attending offseason practice for the first time, was excused early yesterday to attend to a family matter. He planned to be back fully today. "I wish the timing was better, and I feel bad about having to leave early," Springs said before departing in the early afternoon.

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