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Emotional Portis closes book on NFL career

Emotional Portis closes book on NFL career

During Clinton Portis nearly 30-minute retirement speech, the former Redskins running back cried, laughed and teared up some more as he addressed an auditorium filled with former teammates, coaches and current players.

Im closing a chapter in my life that I knew had to end one day, Portis said. I just never knew when it would end.

Today, he added, is that day.

Portis, who has not played a down in the NFL since 2010, officially hung up his cleats Thursday. The 30-year-old retired second on the Redskins all-time lists for rushing yards (6,824), carries (1,667) and rushing touchdowns (46), while his 1,516 and 1,487 yard seasons in 2005 and 2008 are the teams top single-season performances.

On Friday, Portis will be among the 10 players voted by fans and a panel to join the 70 greatest Redskins, owner Dan Snyder announced. Snyder joined Portis at the dais.

Hes one of the greatest 80 Redskins of all time, one of the greatest in the NFLs history, Snyder said.

Some highlights from Portis speech:

--Portis choked up before he began speaking and again when he talked about the sacrifices his parents made so he could have the things he wanted. His mother worked long hours at a nursing home, while his father drove a truck.

--Although hes known as much for his wacky press conference costumes as much as his accomplishments on the field, Portis said he does not have a favorite character. Southeast Jerome and Dolla Bill, Sheriff Gonna Getcha, he said, all served an important purpose.

To me, each character represented how I was feeling at that time, Portis said. Each character represented what we needed at that moment to get through. All of them were fun.

--During his college recruitment, Portis said he had made up his mind to attend Maryland. His mom, however, wasnt having it.

I remember telling my mom Im going to college and Im going to Maryland, he said. From that moment on, she didnt answer a University of Maryland football call and she threw away all the mail. I walked in the house and I said, Did any coaches call? She said, yeah, Miami. I said, Thats it? She said, Thats only one I could remember.

Portis concluded: I kind of realized then that my destiny was Miami.

--At the 2003 ESPYs, he struck up a conversation backstage with a man he did not know. Portis recalled confiding in him, I feel like they dont want to pay me, Portis said to the man, referring to the Broncos.

The man told Portis, Dont worry about money, play the game the way you play it, have fun and enjoy it. I didnt know it was; they vanished into the sunset.

Portis later learned the man was Snyder, whose Redskins traded for him prior to the 2004 season.

--Asked if he had a favorite moment in his nine-year career, Portis said those moments arrived every Sunday right before kickoff, in the tunnel with fellow Miami alums Santana Moss and the late Sean Taylor.

Moments in the tunnel, where me Santana and Sean lined up in the back, knowing that we was running on the field together to represent the Washington Redskins, the University of Miami and to give everyone hope that wanted to play this game, that we were going to play this game the right way, he said.

--Asked if he deserves a spot in the Hall of Fame, Portis said he would leave that to the media to decide.

That would be a great feat, he said. If they could add my biggest attribute, which was heart, I would definitely be there. For the just the numbers, Im not sure. Thats for you all to decide.

--Portis also recalled his arguments with Taylor over which of them had the hardest hit in Sundays game.

The truth would be, Portis said, I always thought he hit harder than me. And I always thought he had the better play.

A lot of me left with Sean, he added.

In a lot of ways, Portis farewell which he delivered without a note in his hand mirrored his career. It was impressive, emotional and high on entertainment value.

I hope in my time as a Washington Redskin that I left an impression on enough people for them to say Clinton Portis was a stand up guy, he said. Clinton Portis was a hell of a worker, that Clinton Portis gave everything he had and left everything he had on the field. Thats fine with me.

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Did Vernon Davis force the NFL to make TD celebration rule change?

Did Vernon Davis force the NFL to make TD celebration rule change?

Last fall, Vernon Davis scored a touchdown in a Redskins win over the Eagles. Immediately following, he used the football in place of a basketball and made a jump shot over the cross bar. It was a cool, spontaneous celebration for his second TD of the season.

Seconds later, a penalty flag hit the ground. Davis was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct for using the ball as a prop. In a league with a tremendous amount of awful penalties, it ranked as one of the worst of the season. 

The good news? In 2017, Davis' celebration will no longer draw a flag.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell penned a letter explaining the changes:

We are relaxing our rules on celebrations to allow players more room to have fun after they make big plays. We know that you love the spontaneous displays of emotion that come after a spectacular touchdown. And players have told us they want more freedom to be able to express themselves and celebrate their athletic achievements.

In a league committed to Thursday Night Football - which both players and fans dislike - as well as archaic policies on social media and substance abuse, this is a rare, positive development. 

It's okay to let players have a little fun, show some personality. Goodell made clear that lewd celebrations would still be flagged, and that's reasonable. Using the ball as a prop, however, shouldn't be. Now, it won't.

Did Davis break the NFL? Probably not, though his penalty is often the first thing people point to when discussing the absurdity of the ball as a prop rule. 

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Gruden knows that new parts on Redskins defense must gel quickly

Gruden knows that new parts on Redskins defense must gel quickly

Jay Gruden is going into his fourth season as the Redskins’ head coach. If there is one thing he has learned, it is the nature of his team’s fan base.

He was asked if he would need to be patient, getting the team’s defense, which will have as many as six new starters and several other key contributors who are new to the organization, to play well as a unit.

“I don’t think patience is in the dictionary here in D.C.,” Gruden said. “We have to be good now. We were 9-7 two years ago, 8-7-1 last year. I think the expectations are high and they’re always going to be high in this area and we have to perform.”

I’m not sure that most fans expect a Super Bowl win this year. But they do expect progress towards one and a slow start that results in the team being irrelevant after Thanksgiving will not be acceptable.

RELATED: Who are the Redskins' roster locks?

Gruden does have a tall task to get the defense to be effective quickly.

“We have a new defensive coordinator, new defensive line coach, new secondary coach,” he said. “We have some new players on defense, some free agent acquisitions, some draft picks. They’re going to have to learn on the fly and learn to play together, which is going to be the biggest challenge for us.”

Greg Manusky replaced Joe Barry as the defensive coordinator. They brought in Jim Tomsula to coach the defensive line and put Torrian Gray in charge of the secondary. Among the players expected to start or contribute heavily are free agents DL Stacy McGee, DL Terrell McClain, ILB Zach Brown and S D.J. Swearinger and draft picks DL Jonathan Allen and OLB Ryan Anderson.

The Redskins have added multiple free agents to their defense in the past with mixed, mostly negative results. But things don’t have to take long to gel. The Giants had one of the league’s worst defenses in 2015 but with a few free agency additions and with the help of 2015 draft pick Landon Collins suddenly blossoming into one of the best safeties in the game they were one of the best last year.

MORE REDSKINS: Allen says new stadium ahead of schedule

The main thing that the Redskins defense has to avoid this year is taking a step back. The team has gone 17-14-1 over the last two years with a defensive unit that ranked from mediocre to bad in most key categories. If they can start off performing like a team in the lower middle of the pack defensively and improve as the year goes on the team should be able to be in the mix in December. Despite also dealing with some changes, the offense should be able to carry the team until the defense can get its act together.

Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.