American Football Wiki
Clinton Portis
Personal Information
Running back
Jersey #(s)
Born September 1 1981 (1981-09-01) (age 42)
Height: 5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)Weight: 217 lb (98 kg)
Career information
Year(s) 20022010
NFL Draft 2002 / Round: 2 / Pick: 51
High School Gainesville (FL) High School
College Miami (FL)
Professional teams
Career stats
Rushing yards 9,923
Rushing average 4.4
Rushing TDs 75
Stats at
Career highlights and awards

  • 80 Greatest Redskins
  • AP NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year (2002)
  • PFWA Offensive Rookie of the Year (2002)
  • 2× Pro Bowl selection (2003, 2008)
  • All-Pro (2008)
  • 2007 Fedex Ground Player Of The Week (Week 17)
  • 3× 2008 Ground Player Of The Week (Week 5), (Week 7), (Week 8)

Clinton Earl Portis (born September 1, 1981 in Laurel, Mississippi) is a former American football running back who played for the Denver Broncos and the Washington Redskins of the National Football League.

College career[]

Portis starred at the University of Miami. He considered going to the University of South Carolina but a fight that he had at Gainesville High School had his scholarship taken away. He became just the second true freshman to start at running back since the 1975 season. Portis set a school freshman record with five 100-yard performances, and led the team with 838 yards and eight touchdowns on 143 carries (5.9 avg.) in 10 games. He also caught four passes for 44 yards (11.0 avg.) and 2 touchdowns. When Portis was still a relative unknown, Lee Corso singled out Portis's performance during a defeat by Florida State for hustling and never giving up, saying "that kid can play for me any time".

Portis' sophomore season was not as successful as he lost his job to James Jackson and rushed for 485 yards and two touchdowns on 77 carries (6.3 avg.) in eight games. He also added 103 yards on five receptions (20.6 avg.).

However, Portis bounced back in 2001 as the Hurricanes won the National Championship and Portis had his best season rushing for 1,200 yards and 10 touchdowns on 220 carries (5.5 avg.). He also added 125 receiving yards. In the Rose Bowl against Nebraska, Portis ran for 104 yards and a touchdown. He also had a long touchdown reception called back on a holding call.

Professional career[]

2002 NFL Draft[]

Portis was drafted by the Denver Broncos with the 51st overall pick in the second round of the 2002 NFL Draft.

Pre-draft measureables
Wt 40y 20ss 3-cone Vert BP Wonderlic
204 lb[1] 4.35[2] X X X X 20*[3]

(* represents NFL Combine)

Denver Broncos[]

Portis rushed for over 1,500 yards in each of his first two seasons with the Broncos, averaging 5.5 yards per carry in that span. The latter is an NFL record for a running back's first two seasons. On December 12, 2002, Portis became the youngest player (21 years, 105 days) to score 4 touchdowns in a game in a 31-24 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs. The very next season on December 7, 2003, Portis became the youngest player (22 years, 97 days) to score 5 touchdowns in a game.


Before the 2004 season, the Broncos traded Portis to the Redskins for cornerback Champ Bailey and a second-round draft pick in the 2004 NFL Draft which the Broncos used to select Tatum Bell (and Bell wore Portis's number 26 in Denver). The Redskins signed Portis to an eight-year contract worth $50.5 million. At that time, there were criticisms regarding the trade, namely that shut-down corners like Bailey were hard to come by and that adding a second-round pick for Portis was too much and one-sided. Critics also felt that Portis was simply a product of the Broncos' O-line scheme, and would not have much success in Washington, which was usually suited to more physical, power runners (such as Stephen Davis or John Riggins). Such trades involving star players are relatively rare in the NFL.

Washington Redskins[]

In the 2004 season, he had to adjust to coach Joe Gibbs' style of running, which consists of mostly power running. Despite taking his first Redskins carry 64 yards for a TD in the season opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, it was a somewhat rough adjustment for Portis because Denver's running style consisted of stretch runs and runs to the outside. The adjustment was made rougher by an offensive line that was depleted mainly to injuries. He finished 2004 with 1,315 yards for a 3.8 yard rushing average. He had an especially tough time finding the end zone, finishing with eight total touchdowns (5 rushing, 2 receiving, and one passing). However, Portis bounced back in the 2005 season. Although Gibbs still ran a power style of football, he implemented more outside running plays into the Redskins rushing attack to better suit Portis' style of running. Portis had a much better season, proving that he can run inside as well as to the outside and was a better pass-blocker. Although he didn't get into the end zone until the fifth game of the season, he finished strong and had 12 total touchdowns (11 rushing and one passing). On a 14-yard run against the Philadelphia Eagles on January 1, 2006, he broke the Redskins' franchise record for the most rushing yards in a season with 1,516 yards and tied the most 100+ yard games in a season (5). He ended the game with 112 rushing yards. By rushing for 1,516 yards, he became only the third runner in league history to reach 1,500 yards in three of his first four seasons.

Portis demonstrated his speed during the 2006 Redskins training camp, running a 4.26 second 40-yard dash. Shortly following that, on August 13, 2006, Portis suffered a partially dislocated shoulder in the first quarter of a Week 1 pre-season game after tackling Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Keiwan Ratliff following a Bengals interception. After the injury, Portis said: "I don't know why myself or any other player of my caliber should be playing in the preseason." He added, "I think for the last four years I've done enough to show the world I'm going to be ready for the season."

There was no immediate indication from the Redskins as to when Portis might return to active playing status [4]. However, he returned early into the Redskins' Monday Night Football game against the Minnesota Vikings, where he gained 39 yards on 10 carries with one touchdown. The Redskins lost 19-16, the clock expiring as Redskins kicker John Hall missed wide left on a field goal. Portis rebounded the last two weeks with 16 carries for 86 yards and 2 touchdowns against the Houston Texans, and 27 carries for 112 yards and a touchdown against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Nagged by injuries all season, Portis suffered another setback in the first quarter of the Redskins' November 12 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. Portis left the game with a hand injury and was replaced by backup Ladell Betts. X-rays revealed that Portis broke his right hand during the game. He was operated on and placed on the Redskins' Injured Reserve list three days later, on November 15 [5].

Redskins agreed to guarantee Portis' 2008-2009 and a large portion of his 2010 base salaries in March. This will equal up to $15 million dollars in guarantees. Portis, also got a $9.32 million "signing bonus" upon restructuring.[6]


In 2008, Portis fell just short of what would have been his fourth 1500 yard rushing season in seven years, finishing with 1487 yards and an average of 4.3 yards per carry. His season was highlighted by a five week stretch in which Portis gained nearly 700 yards, ending in an October 26 victory over the Detroit Lions. During this span Clinton Portis joined O.J. Simpson as the only players in NFL history to rush for at least 120 yards in five consecutive games twice in a career (Portis first did it over two seasons with four games with Denver in 2003 and one game with Washington in 2004). Portis led the NFL in rushing as late as November 23 before nagging injuries and limited playing time slowed him down; he gained only 281 yards in his final five games as the Redskins lost four of five to miss the playoffs. Despite this, he was selected to the Pro Bowl over DeAngelo Williams, despite Williams having better stats at the end of the season.

Some controversy was caused on December 9, 2008 when Clinton Portis made negative statements about Redskins coach Jim Zorn in his weekly appearance on WTEM-AM radio, criticizing Zorn for giving inconsistent messages and sarcastically calling him a "genius." Portis was still smarting from his lack of playing time in Sunday's 24-10 loss to the Baltimore Ravens, when he was removed from the game after the first series of the second half. [7] In the offseason, Portis stated that he tried to forge a better relationship with Zorn, but admitted that he did not have the rapport that he shared with former head coach Joe Gibbs, which he classified as a "great relationship,"[8] and stated that Gibbs was "one of the best men as far as guidance, or the way he lives his life, an example of a true champion."[9]


During a Week 9 game versus the Atlanta Falcons, Portis suffered a concussion. The hit caused Portis to lose consciousness and leave the game. Portis missed four straight games with concussion-like symptoms. Portis went to see a specialist in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on December 1, 2009. It was reported that on December 8, Portis was officially placed on Injured Reserve.


Under Jim Zorn's west coast approach Portis didn't get the carries he was used to and wasn't in the game for as many plays as usual. Ladell Betts was used in the screen game more often.