Clinton Portis: Joe Bugel had the attitude of a hitman

Ben Krimmel
June 30, 2020 - 6:15 pm

Football is a young man's game. But it isn't exclusively a game for the young as the Washington Redskins proved in the early 2000s. 

When Joe Gibbs, Joe Bugel, Don Breaux, and Rennie Simmons returned to coach the Redskins for their second stint in 2004, they were in their 60s. Clinton Portis, who was also in his first season in Washington that year, was just 24. So what did the young running back coming off a Pro Bowl season think of his old coaches?

"I really didn't know I was teaming up with a bunch of OGs," Portis told Grant & Danny Tuesday.

"I feel like most of those guys were in the mob. You think of the 'Sopranos' or one of those movies and that's what Buges and coach Gibbs, coach Breaux, Rennie, that's kinda what they reminded you of." 

Portis said coming from a younger Denver Broncos coaching staff to the Redskins, it was like being coached by "a bunch of made men." 

"If they were in the 'Sopranos,'" Portis said of Bugel, "he would be the hitman. That's the kind of attitude that he had, that's the kind of demeanor. When you think of Buges, he didn't walk around make a lot of noise, but when he spoke you paid attention. You always knew his presence, you always knew when he was in the room."

Bugel, who passed away over the weekend at the age of 80, was remembered by Portis for having a great "passion and fire for the game" of football. 

"When you talk about a coach that motivates players and get the most out of his players, you think of how many times (Bugel) had makeshift offensive lines or had to deal with injuries over my tenure," Portis said. "He did his best to get the most out of those guys."

Of course, it wasn't all attitude.

"Buges was like the dictionary," he told Grant & Danny. "You go in with an idea (for a play or concept) and he had the terminology for ya. 'Oh, yeah that's this kinda block' or 'that's this.' He was always open."

But having that fire on gameday was something Portis remembers Bugel for best.

"When you look around your coaching staff and even look around your teammates," Portis told 106.7 The Fan. "There're certain people that kinda ignite you, excite you about stepping on the field. When you look at the guy and say, 'OK, they're ready.' And although he wasn't gonna be on the field playing, when you looked at Buges you knew it was time. He meant business." 

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Clinton Portis' interview with Grant Paulsen and Danny Rouhier starts at (0:05):

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