Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Retire In Peace Clinton Portis

the highest stepper of a low period

The great and wonderful Clinton Portis announced his retirement from the NFLs yesterday, to little fanfare, and personally I am highly disappointed there was not a one-day contract signed with the Redskins so he could retire as one of us. But let’s make no mistake about it – in the Dan Snyder-era Washington Redskins (which is sort of like King Joffrey’s reign, just with less success), ol’ C.P. aka Southeast Jerome aka Sheriff Gonna Getcha aka Coach Janky Spanky aka Bud Foxx (always one of my favorites) aka Mr. Straight Pockets has been the rare highlight. Sad thing is, he’s probably not as well-loved by Skins fans as he ought to be, partially because of the aforementioned tomfoolery with little team success to support such nonsense’s usefulness, and partially because of the whole Dan Snyder thing and how it was well-known Portis had a backdoor into the owner’s office, which helped undermine a couple of coaches along the way. But I also think there’s a certain amount of racialism behind it as well, as Portis was always too negro-ish and scary and not a serious enough professional-style black man to be truly embraced by an NFL fanbase like the Redskins have, especially when it came to the fact Portis was challenging for the beloved (and white) John Riggins’ team rushing record, which Portis never did get, due to injury.
But let’s throw all the shenanigans aside, for the sake of assholes, and be clear about a few things. Few featured tailbacks in the dying era of NFL featured tailbacks were willing to block like Portis. The dude was tough, and unafraid, and also double tough. Part of the reason he suffered so many injuries was his bruising style, put on display by a smaller frame. He never got the credit as a smashmouth player because of all the wacky shit he did. He also was burdened by the comparisons to Champ Bailey, who he was traded for back in the day, and who is still playing as an elite CB in the NFL. There are Redskins fans, albeit not too many, who still complain about that as a sign of how this team stopped building and started splashing their way to prominent team status.
The thing is, as I attempt to teach my goats football in the spirit of my Football Metaphysics for Enlightened Degenerates manifesto, you can’t throw out the wackiness. Clinton Portis was a rare breed, and in Denver, under Mike Shanahan, he was never allowed to blossom fully as an individual. In Washington, under Joe Gibbs, he not only blossomed but excelled both on the field and in the quotable category. One of the greatest things about Joe Gibbs is how he respected these personalities, so long as they added and not subtracted from the team. I’m not sure all head coaches are able to pull off such tolerance, but Gibbs could.
So unfortunately, the retirement of Clinton Portis, which was not done as a day-long Redskin to end his career as it should have, becomes a brief compare-and-contrast on Joe Gibbs vs. Mike Shanahan, as I am 39-years-old and the only playoff games they’ve won in my entire life have been under Gibbs. Shanahan has won playoff games and Super Bowls, just not here, where he’s struggled and never cleared 6 wins in a year. Granted it’s only been two years, but for an alleged coaching genius, that’s not so great. Part of why Shanahan was willing to get rid of Portis in Denver was this Ray Kroc/Henry Ford belief that the system dictates success, and he could plug-and-play whoever he wanted into the position, so long as they were somewhat competent, and success would be had. This has meant in the two-year period under Shanahan, which started with Portis as the #1 RB, we’ve seen Ryan Torain, Keiland Williams, Tim Hightower, and Roy Helu Jr. as the #1, with Evan Royster and Alfred Morris promising to full that spot shortly as well. Now I understand the usefulness of having a two-man rotation to handle the abuses of NFL, but four- or five-headed monster. Monsters like that are good for battling with irregular dice and swords forged by wizard alchemists, not for winning Lombardi trophies. That is a sign of throwing a bunch of shit at a wall and hoping something sticks.
The Clinton Portis wacky character parade was part of a more free-form locker room, where personality was not a hindrance. Mike Shanahan is very much a vanilla corporate speaker type who would prefer all his players be quiet and not stand out. I mean let’s face it, Shanahan is a curmudgeon of a coach whose mouth is permanently transformed into the shape of an anus. If I’ve learned one thing in my 39-years on this planet, it’s that you should not trust anus mouthed men, because they will speak lies and self-important fallacies. And this will be the case with Shanahan eventually, as he is slowly being exposed as a fraud without an Elway.
I don’t know what we’ll do afterwards though. Like I said, Snyder-era Redskins are great as splashes, but not at building, so Dear Leader is going to try and find a huge splash that would create more ripples than Shanahan. Not sure where he’ll find that, perhaps some sort of cyborg built from scientology robots and Vince Lombardi DNA. But I would guess very little building will go on, as very little building has gone on for a while. The Redskins seem to be more about making people think things are different than actually making them different. This is why we’ve had our Haynesworth and Donovan McNabb and fuck man Deion Sanders and Bruce Smith and now Robert Griffin III, who seems like a wonderful young man, but is already all over Subway commercials and in magazine ads and yeah it’s great and all but goddammit man, fuck potential and promise at this point. I want delivery.
And granted, Mr. Clinton Portis had his shortcomings, but even with all that he’s one of the top three official Redskins of the Dan Snyder era. For the record, that list is Sean Taylor, Clinton Portis, and Chris Cooley. None of those guys have ever won a playoff game, much less competed for a Super Bowl title. One of those guys is dead, the second hobbled (and perhaps on the roster chopping block, to be honest), and the third is now retired. So the high watermark of a low-period in a franchise is now moving deeper into our collective memory banks. And what wonderfully great awesomeness is lined up to take its place? Not a whole lot, because of lack of building. But the great Mike Shanahan will continue throwing shit at us and hope something sticks, until our crazy owner gets worried about diminishing returns on his financial investment and makes some sort of ridiculous splash of Kool-Aid that retarded ass Redskins fans will happily sip up in long, thirsty gulps. It happens every year. But more on that next time.

And as an addendum: it does seem that Portis will retire officially as a Redskin tomorrow, but all my points still stand, because he ain’t get no fuckin’ parade.

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