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Portis: 'I Want To Be Remembered As Fearless'

Posted Aug 23, 2012

Before today's retirement ceremonies at Redskins Park, Redskins running back Clinton Portis had an exclusive interview with Redskins.com discussing his stories career.

During his playing days, Redskins running back Clinton Portis earned a reputation as one of the fiercest hitters in the NFL, on either side of the ball.

Even at a position notorious for taking a beating, Portis embraced the opportunity to punish would-be tacklers at the point of contact.

"I always wanted to make sure I got the better end of whatever the contact being made was," he told Redskins.com.  "I was fortunate in that I got up after every play."

The average career of an NFL running back is approximately two-and-a-half seasons thanks to the physical demands of the position.  Portis played in the NFL for nine seasons, seven of which he spent in Washington.

Despite rushing for nearly 10,000 yards and being selected to two Pro Bowls, Portis admitted Thursday that he was scared every time he stepped on an NFL playing field.

Portis learned how to channel that fear into a deep-seeded respect for the game, and learned how to play with reckless abandon.

"I really want to be remembered as being tough, fearless and leaving it all on the field," he explained.  "Stepping on to that field was so scary to me every time, because you never know when it could all be over.

"For me, I think I accomplished that.  I was never satisfied as a player, and I never got too comfortable in my surroundings."

That fear was given perspective in 2007, with the tragic passing of Portis's teammates and close friend Sean Taylor.  Portis, Taylor and Santana Moss had a bond dating back to their time at the University of Miami, and losing Taylor changed Portis forever as a person and a professional.

"My biggest competitor in football was never a player on the other team, it was always Sean Taylor," Portis said.  "We would always argue over who had the biggest hit in a game.

"I always said it was me, but in my heart, I knew he always beat me."

After Taylor passed, the team mourned his loss, and fell five days later to the Buffalo Bills, 16-17 at home.  It was then that the Redskins rallied around Taylor's memory, and Portis says he played the best football of his career.

"After Sean passed, getting in the end zone and lifting up my jersey was probably the most memorable moment of my career," Portis said.  "Against the Bears, I think I had probably six or seven consecutive carries to finish off the game.  Situations where we couldn't give them the ball back, or we would lose.

Portis took pride in his ability to pass protect, acknowledging those that say he may have been the best blocking running back of all time.

"Some of my best plays were some of the blitz pick-ups that nobody sees," he said.  "When you really took the air out of somebody, when you took the fight out of them, and your teammates are helping you up saying 'good job!'

"It was some of the less-glorified moments that should be remember as my best play," he concluded.  "History may remember the big runs, but I think my teammates will remember the plays like that."

After sitting out last season, Portis will be eligible for the Pro Football Hall of Fame following the 2015 season.

While Portis's numbers (2,477 touches, 11,941 all-purpose yards, 80 touchdowns) are worthy of enshrinement, Portis hopes that it is his immeasurables that fans remember.

"You could find someone else with the stats, touchdowns, highlights," he said.  "But if you can find somebody who brought to the game what I brought: the heart, pass blocking, the desire--that's special.

"I think I’ll leave [my vote] to everyone else to decide. If I make it, great, it was a blessing, but I never said I’d be a Hall of Famer. I just wanted to go out and play a game to the best of my ability, give everything I had, and leave it on the field.

"I wanted to be the toughest player on the field every Sunday and for the most part I think I was."

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