Former Redskins running back Clinton Portis recently finished his first time sideline reporting for the Redskins' preseason and would like to continue a role in media.
The way Clinton Portis described his first experience as a sideline reporter is reminiscent of how he might have described his first time playing in the NFL.
He talked about the unknowns, the opportunities, the positive and negative chatter about his performance, the support he's received, the mentors that have coached him, the amount of fun he tried to have throughout it all. In essence, he was just re-living the daily trials of a rookie's preseason, holding a microphone instead of a football.
The Redskins released running back Clinton Portis on March 1, 2011. In seven seasons, Portis was one of the franchise's best backs.
Portis, who retired in 2012, said the first live on-air experience working for the local Redskins Broadcast Network was "great," even as he battled plenty of nerves. During the team's four preseason games, he provided updates, interviewed players and banked on his connection with Redskins fans, which grew to love him during his seven years in Washington.
"Week 1, you don't kind of know what to expect. You want to do everything right, you want to be proper," Portis told Redskins.com. "After Week 1 it's like, you're not a journalist, you're Clinton Portis, be yourself and people will enjoy that."
That persona, being Clinton Portis, is something fans and anyone who covered the team during his stint with the Redskins know all too well.
There was rarely a dull moment when he would address the media at Redskins Park after practice. That was largely due to the bizarre, outlandish wigs and costumes he donned by the stairwell outside the team's locker room, and the subsequent character impersonations in front of the cameras.
He added some color to a very monotonous exhibition.
"I've always had respect [for the media]," Portis said. "I think, for myself as a player, I tried to make it fun for those reporters that were interviewing me, and now, being on this side, I try to make it fun for the player I'm interviewing. I think this has a lot of potential and I think just seeing how the player reacted to me was great."
Learning the intricacies of the job took some time, and Portis quickly learned how certain ticks in front of the camera became magnified on television. After reviewing film, much like he would have done several years earlier, he made adjustments.
He learned not to move around while talking and made a strict effort to annunciate through what he called his "lazy speech," a drawl that he picked up in his hometown of Laurel, Miss.
"By Week 3, Week 4 I felt great," he said. "Just to even come up with those questions, there's no teleprompter, it's straight off the top of your head when you can get a player. Having that range to interview [Ryan] Kerrigan, [DeAngelo] Hall, Matt Jones, whoever was playing good at that point, just to be prepared and ready to interview them, I felt good."
Throughout that progression he received help from Larry Michael, the Voice of the Redskins, as well as Joe Theismann, Chris Cooley and Brian Mitchell, former Redskins who had made the successful transition into the media industry.
"So many people chimed in to give me input on how to carry myself," he said. "That input always boiled down to 'just be you. Just go out there and have fun.' Week 3 and Week 4 I did that and I felt great."
Jumping into broadcasting, something many ex-NFL players have tried, is something Portis has wanted to do. It's a way for him to stay close to the game and the city he loves, and offers him another challenge to overcome and try to master.
"I would love to continue to do it," Portis said. "I would love to do pregame or postgame. I'm not keen to one thing. I think range makes me a valuable asset because I can do it all with the right instructions."