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Portis Leaves Enduring Impact On The NFL

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Redskins running back Clinton Portis will call it a career today, in a retirement ceremony at Redskins Park.

He finishes as one of the top players to ever suit up in the burgundy and gold, a favorite among fans and a leader in the locker room.

Part of his enduring legacy in the NFL will be the relationships he forged at Redskins Park.

"He was out there with me all the time," said former teammate London Fletcher.  "He's had many great games while we were playing together here."

Fletcher and Portis were teammates in Washington for four seasons from 2007-2010.  During that time, Fletcher was the heart and soul of the defense, while Portis was a catalyst on offense.

"He had an ability to take the ball the distance, and definitely had a productive career" Fletcher remembered.  "He almost rushed for 10,000 yards, was the second leading rusher for the Redskins franchise."

Fletcher faced Portis once as a member of the Bills when Portis was in Denver, and called him one of the toughest running backs to prepare for.

"He's one of the best blocking backs to ever play the game," Fletcher said.  "When linebackers were watching film and thinking about blitzing, they definitely went in there with a different mindset knowing that this guy can put me on my back. 

"A lot of times it wasn't necessarily his responsibility, when he came back to get a lineman who had a beeline to the quarterback."

Portis took pride in being an all-downs running back, and is one of the last of an era of franchise running backs.

His physical play and game-changing ability had a profound impact on Redskins running back and northern Virginia-native Tim Hightower, who modeled his game after Portis in high school and college.

"As a young, up-and-coming running back, there were guys who are legendary for our league," Hightower said.  "There are guys who I looked up to--Edgerrin James or Clinton Portis--and they set the tone for us.

"He was a trend setter."

In 2004, Portis was traded to the Redskins from Denver.  Hightower started as a true freshman at the University of Richmond that season, carrying the ball 58 time for 161 yards. 

By his senior season, he had re-written the record books at Richmond, rushing 327 times for 1,924 yards and 20 touchdowns.

"[Portis] is definitely one of those guys, when I was young in high school and in college, I watched him, I looked up to him, I respected his work," he said.  "He paved the way for guys like me."

Hightower was brought to Washington last offseason to provide the same type of leadership on offense and relentless physical style.  Hightower said he only hopes to be regarded in the same company when his career is over.

"With the name he made for this franchise, he opened the door for guys like me.  I have a great deal of respect for that guy, I'm sure the rest of the league does as well."

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