Aside from the final score, just about everything in sports is open to interpretation.
That’s why it’s no surprise, as Clinton Portis announces his retirement from football at Redskins Park, to see folks in the comments section of this blog recalling his career in divergent ways.
On one hand, Portis is remembered as a gamer, a running back who put his body on the line for the team, and not just in ways that show up on the stat sheet. People recall his willingness to pass protect, to stand in and take on 275-pound bullrushing linemen. The years he more or less carried the Redskins are spoken of fondly.
On the other hand, his public spats with former coach Jim Zorn, the way he was said to have a direct line to owner Daniel Snyder and the characters he played for willing media members in the locker room rubbed some of you the wrong way.
A lot of you said it well. I thought zcezcest1 said it best, Wednesday at 5:48:
“The thing that makes Portis’ legacy so complicated is that you can make two statements about him, both true:
He was an absolute beast who carried us to the playoffs.
He was a selfish and out of control player that tore the team apart.”
Perhaps a player’s retirement ceremony is the day to remember mostly good things. For me, what stands out is the five-season stretch from 2004, his first season in Washington, to 2008. He played four full seasons, carrying the ball 343, 352, 325 and 342 times in those years -- that’s in the 21- to 22-carries a game neighborhood. He had a season where he added 47 catches, and had as many as 383 combined runs and receptions in a season.
That makes him a true workhorse, which isn’t much of a compliment except in the world of NFL running backs. Portis ran for 9,923 career yards, and had six seasons with between 1,550 and 1,950 yards from scrimmage. The words Hall of Fame came up in a couple of comment threads, with the consensus probably that Portis was a couple more great seasons away from being a shoo-in.
In the end, there are a few questions to ask about his career.
I’ll be around The Insider this season, delving into the comments and helping highlight the best parts of the discussion. I’ll introduce myself on Monday.