Clinton Portis — who rushed for more yards than all but one ball-carrier in Redskins history and displayed more personalities, and perhaps more personality, than any other player — began his retirement ceremony remarks Thursday as we should have expected.
“Hello world,” he said.
Then Portis officially stepped away from pro football after a prolific nine-year career, providing more than 25 minutes of unscripted and unfiltered emotion, memories and commentary. Occasionally choking up, Portis expressed gratitude and pride toward the Redskins organization where he spent seven seasons.
And near the end, Washington owner Daniel Snyder emphasized how his organization feels about Portis by announcing the running back is one of the 10 new inductees to the list of 80 Greatest Redskins of All-Time.
“You’re talking about a Hall of Fame running back and someone that we’re very proud to retire as a Redskin,” Snyder said.
Portis, 30, a two-time Pro Bowl selection, ranks second in Redskins history in rushing yards (6,824), carries (1,667) and rushing touchdowns (46). He rushed for 1,516 yards in 2005, which stands as the top single season rushing total in franchise history.
When asked whether he thought he would be inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame, Portis said he was not sure.
“You know, it would be a great feat,” Portis said. “I think if the measurement for the Hall of Fame, if they can add my biggest attribute, which was heart, I would definitely be there. But for just the numbers, I’m not sure.”
He’d also be a lock if the Hall of Fame considered off-the-field entertainment. Known for dressing up as different characters during weekly news conferences while he was with the Redskins — including Kid Bro Sweets, Dolemite Jenkins, Choo Choo and Southeast Jerome, to name a few — Portis frequently had something interesting to say and an interesting way of saying it.
“Each character was unique in his own way, and all of them was fun,” Portis said. “I never took the time out to say, ‘This is my favorite,’ because the one that I gave you the week that I gave it to you was the character I needed to get myself through the week or the character that we needed as a team to get through.”
Portis got in trouble at his first rookie practice with the Denver Broncos in 2002 for wearing a bird feather in his helmet. He was traded after two seasons to the Redskins, where he became known as one of the toughest players on the team and set rushing records.
Portis said his initial plans for retirement include spending more time with his children and investing in Snyder’s youth league football team, for which he jokingly said he recently signed on as a part-owner. He said he plans to stay involved in the area.
“I never cheated myself, and I gave everything that I had to this organization and to this Redskins nation, to this D.C. nation,” Portis said. “I love this area, and I will always feel a part of this community.”