Portis faces MVP
Published: Thursday, January 12, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 11, 2006 at 10:11 p.m.
ASHBURN, Va. - As someone who knows both Shaun Alexander and Clinton Portis, Washington Redskins cornerback Shawn Springs has insight into the personalities of both.
"Both are fun, they're just different," said Springs, a teammate of Alexander's for four years with the Seattle Seahawks. "It's like having an angel and a devil - I ain't saying which one is which."
Well, Portis, a standout at Gainesville High School, dressed as an angel two weeks ago, one of his costumed appearances that have become a weekly highlight at Redskins Park. When asked to choose Wednesday, however, he found it hard to vote against the league's MVP.
"He might think I'm the devil, but Shaun Alexander is a great back," Portis said. "For the longest time, people said he was soft and couldn't do this and couldn't do that. Right now, he's the league MVP. Maybe we need all to adopt that mentality of him staying fresh by running out of bounds and not taking the extra pounding. That got him the league MVP. I'm sure everybody will like to be in his shoes."
Saturday's playoff game between the Redskins and Seahawks features two of the league's most dynamic backs, both on and off the field. They are engaging and media savvy - and occasionally a bit too outspoken - although Alexander's winning smile is no match for Portis' theatrics.
"It's not me against Alexander, but nine times out of 10 the guy who has the best rushing performance, unless there is another close one like the first game we had, the team is probably going to win," Portis said. "Whoever can control the ball the longest, whoever can stay on the field, will probably come out with the victory."
Portis threw his admirers a curve Wednesday, appearing without a costume for his meeting with reporters for the first time in four weeks. He called himself "Hot Stuff" and read a letter that he said was from a female fan who claimed he was the "most beautiful guy" she had ever seen.
"Clinton, I would love to see you come out as yourself," Portis said, reading the letter. "That turns me on more than anything you'll ever know."
"Therefore, I couldn't dress up as anyone," he said. "I had to come out and show my beautiful face."
Alexander set an NFL record with 28 touchdowns, led the league in rushing with 1,880 yards and helped lead the Seahawks to an NFC-best 13-3 record. He had 11 100-yard games and missed a 12th by two yards when he gained 98 against the Redskins in Washington's 20-17 OT win in early October.
Portis set a Redskins record with 1,513 yards, including five straight 100-yard efforts in the season-ending five-game winning streak that got Washington into the playoffs. He had 90 yards in the first game against the Seahawks. He was held to 53 yards against Tampa Bay last week because of a pinched nerve in one shoulder and soreness in the other, which no doubt came to mind while he was discussing the "extra pounding" he said Alexander avoids.
Both have been known to get carried away with their opinions. Portis got in trouble with coach Joe Gibbs last season for suggesting that the team's offense had become too predictable, and Alexander had to apologize after saying that coach Mike Holmgren "stabbed me in the back" for not giving him an extra carry that could have won the league's rushing title.
Both have more or less toed the party line this year, and both have enjoyed better seasons. Although he might come across as a clown during his dress-up time, Portis can flip on the serious switch when discussing how he's changed as a runner.
"I actually have learned to become more patient, just knowing what the guys are doing around me," Portis said. "Understanding the scheme, understanding our blocking, basically just reading it. I think last year I just got to the point where I wanted to make a play, and I was trying to do it on my own instead of taking the 4 and 5 yards. This year I take the 4 and 5, line up and keep pounding, and when the big play comes, it comes."
Now two of the 1990s best players could be entering the Pro Football Hall of Fame together.
Aikman and the late White were among the 15 finalists for the Hall of Fame announced Wednesday, joining Thurman Thomas and Warren Moon as finalists in their first year of eligibility.
Three to six of the finalists will be selected for the class of 2006, which will be announced Feb. 4, the day before the Super Bowl in Detroit. Enshrinement of the class will be the weekend of Aug. 5-6.
"Teams can climb back from the bottom to the top in a year, two years," Bates said Wednesday in a telephone interview from Green Bay. "We can be back there in a hurry. I'm not saying one year or two years, but it won't take long."
He might get the chance to prove it.
Bates spent about four hours interviewing with Packers general manager Ted Thompson on Monday for the team's vacant coaching job. From the tone of the interview, he said he got the impression he is a serious candidate.
"You get a feel whenever you interview, and coming away from talking to Ted, I just felt real confident," he said.
Comments are currently unavailable on this article