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Clinton's Characters: It's All About 'Fun'

Clinton Portis's weekly media session on Thursday was one to remember.

Portis proclaimed himself to be the "Angel of Southeast Jerome" and the flamboyant running back was accompanied by five costumed teammates in Robert Royal, Rock Cartwright, Ladell Betts, Ryan Clark and Chris Cooley.

Portis was dressed in an all-white angel costume and a black-spotted mask with long whiskers. His teammates wore some of Portis's costumes from previous weeks.

Thursday's media session was laugh-out-loud funny, but it was also a bit bizarre, as all of his media sessions are. You can watch it in its entirety on TV.

Portis began to wear his costumes early in the season. One time, he came to his weekly media session wearing goggles, and reporters joked with him about it.

A few weeks later, with Portis in the midst of a touchdown slump, he came wearing a white wig and virtual reality glasses. It seemed the intent was to divert reporters from peppering him with questions about his slump.

The following Sunday? He scored three touchdowns against the San Francisco 49ers.

The next week, Portis's "Southeast Jerome" made his first appearance. The following week, after a 36-0 loss to the New York Giants, Portis's "Doctor Don't Know" came along to pronounce the passing of Southeast Jerome in New York.

Subsequent characters "Sheriff Gonna Getcha" and "Inspector 2-2" continued the investigation into the passing of Southeast Jerome. Based on Thursday's media session, it appears that Southeast Jerome was in heaven all along.

As Portis's costumes and characters have become wackier as the season progressed, media outlets have taken notice.

Portis's alter egos have been featured on local television, of course, but the NFL Network, HBO's "Inside the NFL" and ESPN have also produced feature stories on them.

Sports Illustrated had a feature story on Portis's costumes in its Nov. 28 issue and Esquire magazine has contacted about a feature story.

Portis even sent out Christmas cards with pictures of his various characters on it.

It would be easy for Portis's weekly characters and costumes to be misinterpreted. Indeed, some of his coaches and teammates have had to warm up to the idea of their star running back dressing up in odd costumes once a week. It's safe to say Portis's antics are not popular in every corner of the locker room.

The bottom line is this: Portis does it to have fun and lighten the mood as the team prepares for an upcoming opponent.

There's no other reason beyond that.

"It's about coming together," Portis said. "Everyone around here is having fun. There's nobody who can be uptight when they see me like this."

Teammates echoed that sentiment.

"It's something that keeps us all together," Royal said. "It's all just for fun."

Meantime, Portis is also on the verge of one of the Redskins' franchise records.

So far this season, the 5-10, 212-pound back has compiled, 1,404 yards on 325 carries and nine touchdowns. With 29 more rushing yards, Portis will surpass Stephen Davis's team mark of 1,432 yards set in 2001.

"It's exciting," Portis said, taking a break from his characters for a moment. "I would love to have that record. This franchise has been around a long time, so to be 30 yards away from breaking the Redskins rushing record is great. Hopefully I'll have the opportunity to do it."

Portis set a franchise record last Sunday in the 35-20 win over the Giants by rushing for his eighth 100-yard rushing game this season. He has rushed for four consecutive 100-yard rushing games and will tie another franchise record if he runs for another 100 yards on Sunday against Philadelphia.

"We've come a long way, knowing where this team was last year," he said. "At the end of my career, I think I'm going to look back at this year as one of my biggest success stories."

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