The former Redskins offensive duo reflects on early life in Miami, remembering Sean Taylor and their new careers in the media after football.
Washington Redskins: Clinton, how was visiting London with the team?
Clinton Portis:** It was great, actually. We didn't have the opportunity to play over there obviously but I think it's great what they're doing internationally. It was a good time just to see the sights. I was there for a week, it was a good time.
WR: Santana have you ever been to London?
Santana Moss: Never been. I actually got a chance to play in the preseason in 2003 when I was with the Jets. I played in Japan, played in Tokyo, but the London experience, I've just been watching, having to speak about different teams going over there and having a chance to experience it from a fan's standpoint, it looks like a great experience. I'm not sure what it would take for a player when it comes to the body and the big turnaround, but I've been loving it. I think, thus far, we had one of the best-seen games that's been played over there since they started the process.
WR: How was Tokyo?
SM: It was different. I was in New York and got over there and Tokyo was baby New York. It was a whole other Times Square all over again. Only thing I didn't like about was just the food. You didn't have a lot of selections and I was a picky eater at the time, didn't try many things. Other than that, I loved the experience, especially in training camp to have something to look forward to other than just going to a regular preseason game, it was a whole switch-up. Just seeing those dog days of two-a-days, because back then that's when we really had two-a-days, and it was actually my first great year. So, that whole experience just carried on to the season.
WR: Clinton, did you have any fish and chips in London?
CP: I did. Me and LaVar [Arrington] and [Chris] Cooley were sitting down earlier and talking and they ordered fish and chips so I tried it. It wasn't all that bad. I had Jamaican food, I had the best Jamaican food I ever had in my life.
WR: In London?
SM: There's a lot of Jamaicans over there.
CP: I went to Tottenham across the street from the stadium. They had Jamaican restaurants and they were so good. It was bombing -- jerk chicken, ox tail.
WR: Is that your food of choice, being Miami guys?
SM: I can eat Caribbean food all day. My family is from the Caribbean, so just having that background, it's one of the things that I grew up enjoying.
CP: I think it's a southern thing, man. A lot of people don't really eat Ox tail, jerk chicken, they look at you crazy. But in the south you go around looking for it, you're looking for the Jamaican restaurant.
WR: How often do you guys keep in touch throughout the week?
SM: Since we're working right now, I don't see him as much, but we always keep in touch.
CP:** We talk weekly, at least. We cross paths often, we link up.
WR: The anniversary of Sean Taylor's passing is coming up. How much does he come up in conversation?
SM: Amongst us, you might hear it more when people ask us questions. We might every now and then think of a memory of all three of us together and laugh about something, but I think right now at a time of what we experience, it's good to talk about it every now and then. We don't dwell on the fact of what happened. We just talk about the good memories. It's not often, but when we do it talk about it, it's laughter about who he was and some of the times we shared.
CP: It's two weeks from being nine years. I think when we're together, his presence is always with us. I think he comes up in conversation for me in the public eye at least once a day. My kids love him, but amongst us, I think it's just something you just know. You might see us sitting around and smiling and it's just that thought like, "Man, remember when we did so much crazy stuff together?" You can share it, but it will take the special meaning away. We had so many good times, so many moments, when you think about going on the field, I was thinking about games or conversations. I can think of a moment on the plane. I always share this moment about 'Tana and Sean, when I told 'Tana to go pickup Sean's headphones and he was listening to T-Pain -- moments that people wouldn't understand that we got. It's like, this is one of most vicious players of all time and he's listening to T-Pain as hype music?
WR: So you thought it was a joke?
SM: It wasn't a joke
CP: At the time T-Pain had just come out with "Buy Me A Drink." And he was part of the Nappy Boys?
SM: Nappy Boys [laughing]. But to me, what I took from it was, this is a cat banging heads. I would think he listens to some Bone Crusher or some 2-Pac, but it was T-Pain. Listening to it, he was like, "It's pretty good." He was really trying to sell me that T-Pain was the jump. He actually has some good music but it was just funny to hear him listening to it.
CP: This is what's crazy. It was at the beginning of iPods, but Sean still had the CD player, the Walkman. That made it even more funny.
WR: Have we exhausted every Sean Taylor story or memory?
SM: No, there's probably so many you haven't heard. There's probably stuff that I don't know.
Check out photos of former Redskins wide receiver Santana Moss!
CP:** There's so many memories of Sean I think people just attach to certain stories. There's so many stories, unbelievable stuff in the moment, and now when you look back at it, it's so attached to your heart that you don't share it with people, because once you let it go, everybody's version of the story comes back and you don't even know it.
WR: Why do you think the University of Miami was so special in your era?
SM: Before I get into the players, just the coaching staff. What coach [Butch] Davis had built there. It didn't happen overnight. He was brought back there to build that program to where it had been. I remember being a Floridian, but rooting for all three teams – Florida State, Florida and Miami. I tell people this story so much, but I was a Florida State fan young and Miami Hurricane fan also. I liked both of them equally. I wanted to go there equally, but I wanted to go to Florida because they passed the ball. I had so many aspirations for all the teams, but watching Davis bring in guys year after year after year…I remember my first year in 1997, we were 5-6. And then we get a wave of dudes – Andre Johnson, Clinton Portis – and the season is flipped. All that made us so much better, so the nucleus alone helped develop some great college players and pro players.
CP: For me it was kind of the same thing. Growing in the University of Florida's backyard, a huge fan of Fred Taylor's, having the opportunity to see Fred Taylor, know Fred Taylor, Ike [Hilliard], who's on our coaching staff, knowing these guys – but Miami was always heart. Miami and LSU, that's all I cheered for, and then all of a sudden I moved to Gainesville and I'm a Gator fan, but the feeling, I just knew it was right when I went on my visit. Coach [Don] Soldinger was probably one of the realest coaches of all time that doesn't get the credit he deserves when you look at the running backs that he coached, the players he impacted or had an influence on. All these coaches come in, telling me what I want to hear, I talk to Coach Soldinger and he tells me, "Look, bro, if you want to come into the University of Miami, I'll recruit you. If not, hey, good luck, talk to you another time, I wish you the best." And I was like, "this is not what a coach tells a player." But just going on my visit and fitting in with the guys, it was sold.
WR: How tough is it to stay focused on football in a city like Miami?
SM: Easy. I mean people thought it was hard, but it wasn't. We made our fun on campus.
CP: For our times, because we had too much pride. At this time, Miami was still prestigious, South Beach was still prestigious. You didn't pull up on South Beach in a little 89 Camry. You couldn't drive that to South Beach. You would have been embarrassed. They would have thought you were out there stealing. We had too much pride for that. Our joy was amongst us. It was playing basketball, or going to high school games. We didn't club.
SM: We didn't do all that big crazy stuff.
WR: You mentioned Andre Johnson earlier. How surprised were you that he retired recently? Do you still talk to him?
SM: Me and him, we talk all day. Me and him were roommates on the road during home games and away games my last two seasons. Other than that, I can feel him. Being the guy that he is, eventually that stuff gets old, you want out. I reached out to him and told him congratulations, because people look at it as "Oh, you're retiring." No, it's time now to enjoy life.
WR: Is that the way both of you guys felt when you hung up the cleats?
CP: For me it was coming to that peace. I came in with Dre. Me, Tana and Dre always hung together in college. That was part of our crew. We had good times. Dre had an outstanding career. When it's time it's time. There's only two left. Frank Gore and Vince Wilfork, they're the only two left. Vince might be done after this year. Frank got at least two more years. It's the last of a dying breed.
WR: You guys are both diving into doing media post-career. Did you envision that as players?
SM: No. Honestly, man, I still to this day tell people I want to coach down the road. But when I'm watching coaches, they don't stay around long enough. What I want to do is make a difference. My whole thing is I want to make a difference in someone's life because I understand that everything that I put out there on the field came from within me, but it was also brought out from good coaching. I see a lot of guys don't get that kind of opportunity to have a good coach around. With the media stuff I've been doing, I've been enjoying it. Coaching stuff is way behind right now. I'm enjoying the media process. It feels like I'm playing football all over again, watching film and I get to sit and tell people facts. Not bull*. I get to tell you what's really going on, on the field at that given time.
Check out photos of former Redskins running back Clinton Portis!
WR:** Considering Josh Norman as an example of being fined for expressing his opinion, is it liberating to do that for a job now?
SM: Well, Portis, I think he's a guy that spoke his opinion. For me, it's liberating, because I can't say that I was soft-spoken, I just didn't speak a lot. I didn't just tell you what was on my mind all the time. Portis, he's a different league.
CP: Upbringing, always having to be that voice, be that truth, to pump myself from being overlooked. Having this platform to me is really about – honestly, I think it's so much missing, because you guys have so many people that are commentating or calling football that never played the game and they're giving folks false information. You've got to know the coverage to know who to blame. You've got to know the play to know what went wrong. I think when you look at announcers and reporters, to them, it's like they're huge fans of the game, they've been studying forever, never played, don't have an athletic bone in their body and they're judging the top athletes in the world. I just think it's wrong for us to not have a bigger voice. If you look at basketball, all the commentators played ball, so they can relate. You look at [Charles] Barkley, Kenny Smith, Shaq, [Kevin Garnett], Rasheed Wallace. All these guys played, so it's easy to sit back and listen to them talk. So me having this platform, is an opportunity [to say] here's what really happened. Here's the truth, and you take it how want it.
WR: We've played eight games this season. What's your outlook for the Redskins in the second half of the year?
SM: They've got destiny in their hands. They can be what they want to be. They're not bad, and they're not where we want them to be when it comes to good or great. The one thing I can say on offense is they need to find an identity. In the red zone they haven't found themselves because they're throwing the ball a lot.
CP: Because they don't have go-to plays. They don't have identity. When you think of Santana Moss, a quick screen was identity. It was going to be tough, Santana Moss on a quick screen, and you knew it was coming and you couldn't stop it. Clinton Portis up the gut, you knew it was coming and you couldn't stop it. We don't have those plays. It's constantly searching for something new. Every time you look, we're seeing something that we've never seen before and it's not working. You have to find plays that the defense must go stop. "This is a play were going to run, no matter that you do. You better come in and prepare it to stop this play." It was Cooley on the option route, Santana on the quick screen, Santana on the deep ball, CP on the gut, CP on the toss. These were plays you knew we were going to run a bunch of time but you had to be ready to stop them.
WR: So, you're cautiously optimistic?
SM: I'm optimistic. I want them to do well, but it's up to them. We can't play no longer. All we can do is watch and sit there and be hurt like everyone else when they don't do well. I'm optimistic because they haven't reached their ceiling yet.
CP: It also has to do with injuries. So many guys are stepping up and playing out of their mind. But you don't have anybody else behind these guys. So, injuries are going to play a major part, finding an identity on offense, and these guys have got to continue to play out of their minds and above. You lose Trent [Williams] at a time like this. But Kirk Cousins is playing the best ball he's ever played at this moment. You want to see more from D-Jacc, want to see more from Pierre [Garçon], you want to get these guys involved, you know Jordan Reed can be great. You want to see more from the running game . You've got to establish that on offense.
WR: By the way, Clinton, you like to dress up. Do anything for Halloween?
CP: I didn't, man, I was so drained from London I didn't get the opportunity. Halloween for me was sleep.