I caught up with Clinton Portis on the driving range at Bethesda Country Club this morning before he teed off in the 22nd annual Make-A-Wish Golf Classic. Portis, dressed in a jaunty brown golf cap, a brown and red “Play Out” T-shirt, brown shorts, red and gray argyle socks and red shoes, said that reports of a rift between him and coach Jim Zorn are wrong.
“How this story came about, I have no idea,” Portis said. “There’s nothing going on. There’s no beef between me and Coach Zorn. We’re on good terms at this present moment. There’s no problem.”
Portis, who attended many of the organized team activities that finished on June 11 at Redskin Park, had a well-publicized spat with Zorn after the coach benched the slumping running back at halftime of the Dec. 7 loss at Baltimore. But Portis said that flareup was “a long time ago” and that ProFootball Talk was needlessly trying to make trouble where none exists.
“I don’t know why people have that in their mind,” Portis said. “Me and Coach [Joe] Gibbs had a great relationship. We talked more than me and Coach Zorn do, but lately me and Coach Zorn been talking, trying to get on the same page. Things been going good. He understand me and I understand him.”
Quarterback Jason Campbell, on hand to support the Make-A-Wish Foundation and Portis, agreed that he doesn’t see any clash between coach and star.
“The first I heard of it was when I got a text message [about the report] this past week,” Campbell said. “I didn’t know there was a rift. Last season they had their communication issues, but as far as the offseason, things been going pretty good.”
Portis, who now trails only Hall of Famer John Riggins on the Redskins’ alltime rushing list, said he has plenty left despite racking up 2,285 touches (2,052 carries) during his first seven seasons. He led the NFL in rushing at midseason in 2008 en route to his first Pro Bowl selection since 2003, his second season with the Denver Broncos.
“I still think I’m at the top of my game,” said Portis, who’ll be 28 on Sept. 1.
“I’m 27. There’s guys being drafted who are 25. Coach Zorn’s concerned about me making it through the season. I told him as long as I’m walking, I’m going to be on the field. I never got hurt carrying the ball. I told him, ‘If y’all really want me to stay healthy I can quit blocking and running down the field trying to spring somebody.”