The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Clinton Portis says D.C. media ‘doesn’t give a damn’ if RGIII leaves

(By John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

RICHMOND — Clinton Portis knows a thing or two about being a team’s most popular player, and then seeing a fan base turn. Portis was beloved in the early years of his Redskins career; by the end, he was an occasional lightning rod whom many fans criticized.

So when writing about the differences between J.J. Watt and RGIII this week, I snagged Portis to ask him about how differently those two players have been perceived.

“It’s because of the attention the Redskins get,” Portis said. “It’s just a different media. In Texas they praise J.J. Watt and they pump him up and they don’t tear him down. The Houston media don’t tear down J.J. Watt; they know they don’t want J.J. Watt to leave, they know what J.J. Watt is capable of doing. Whereas in D.C. they really don’t give a damn if RGIII leaves or not, you know? Instead of praising him and pumping him up, it’s like let’s tear him down, let’s get him out of here, we want change.

“So it’s a two-year run in D.C.; everything changes every two years,” Portis said. “It’s already split, Republican or Democrat. Every two years that’s going to change. So it seems like you’re gaining much more haters than you really have, but that’s natural.”

Portis said that Watt is a tremendous talent who “deserves all the attention he gets,” but he said Griffin has always faced a different challenge.

“There’s so much scrutiny placed on the Washington Redskins,” Portis said, arguing that local athletes are best served tuning that out.

“You know what aggravates you the most in being the face of a franchise is when you’re giving your blood sweat and tears, you’re giving your heart and leaving it on the field, and people still don’t appreciate it,” Portis said. “You go from being the savior to becoming a problem, and I think that’s what’s going on with RGIII. When you’re not winning, it’s easy for people to switch and change. Not everyone is going to love you, and I think you have to understand that.

“And the sooner RGIII understands that and stops trying to get everyone to love him and stop caring what people think, [the better],” Portis said. “I think he has enough talent, and being such a young guy, to change [the perception], whether it’s here or anywhere else. Becasue this is the NFL, and it’s kind of what have you done for me lately. I think RGIII’s got an opportunity; he controls his own destiny.”