Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Given the chance to apologize last night for his recent comments on dogfighting, Clinton Portis didn’t.

Instead, the Washington Redskins running back continued his defense of Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick, who reportedly is involved in dogfighting.

Portis, hampered by an ailing knee and shoulder, wasn’t at Redskin Park for the third week of organized team activities, but he granted an interview to NFL Network.

“I wasn’t condoning dogfighting,” Portis said. “Hunting is legal. You’ve got spearing sharks and ‘The World’s Greatest Catch’ on TV. All those are animals. What I’m saying is that I don’t think that issue is as big as they made it with the jail time and the consequences he’s going to end up facing if proven guilty. Wait until it’s proven to jump on the bandwagon.

“What I was saying was that there are bigger issues than what Michael Vick does on his own property. Now all of a sudden, I’m getting all the negativity, and I don’t even have any dogs. I think the whole situation is blown out of proportion.”

Portis’ comments Friday in which he said dogfighting behind closed doors was OK were deemed “dangerous and reprehensible” by the Humane Society of the United States yesterday.

“The NFL should demand an explanation and hold the star running back accountable for endorsing an activity that is a felony in 48 states,” HSUS said in a statement. “Portis’ statement is not only insulting to law enforcement and humane societies nationwide working to protect animals … from the violence of dogfighting, it is also a highly troubling indication that some professional football players see nothing wrong with the activity. The flippant way in which Portis dismissed the cruelty of dogfighting and the allegations against Vick are a sign that the subculture has taken root within the NFL ranks and is not being seriously addressed by the league.”

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell — attending league meetings in Nashville, Tenn. — said, “I’m very concerned about these issues surrounding Michael.”

Portis — when asked on the NFL Network about Goodell’s recently strengthened player conduct policy — spoke out again.

“You can’t ask everybody to walk a straight line,” Portis said. “People are going to want to do what they want to do. If they get in trouble, they’ve got to deal with the consequences.”

The Redskins issued a statement critical of Portis saying they “would obviously never condone anything related to animal cruelty. The team takes the recent comments of Clinton Portis very seriously and apologizes to everyone that was offended.”

Offensive tackle Chris Samuels, who was standing next to Portis during the infamous interview with a Norfolk television station during last weekend’s Redskins’ Beach Blitz in Virginia Beach, also felt bad for his minor role in the affair.

“We were kind of joking the whole time we were there,” Samuels said. “Once that question came about, I was kind of caught off guard. We were wrong for joking about the whole situation. We don’t agree with dogfighting. Right after we got off [camera], I said [to myself], ‘This might be a mess.’ ”

Notes — Receiver Santana Moss, Portis’ University of Miami and Redskins teammate, also remained out of action with a strained groin. Given that minicamp is nearly a month away, the Redskins are being cautious with Moss.

“I don’t like sitting around,” Moss said. “I’d love to be out there. [But] we’re not going to play the [opener] tomorrow. Going out there and practicing on it when it’s not well isn’t going to get it any better. I’m not going to test it until the doctor says I’m ready.” …

Running back Nehemiah Broughton, a seventh-round pick in the 2005 draft who saw little playing time during his first two years, will have his torn ACL repaired today. Broughton already has been placed on season-ending injured reserve.

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