If I had to characterize the response of players at open locker room to Clinton Portis Radio Funtime, I’d say there were two basic answers. One used the word “accountability” a lot, and the other was a some variation on “What did Clinton say, exactly?”. The first offensive starter to show his face in the locker room was Antwaan Randle El, which led to this intimate scene:
“It happens,” Randle El said. “It’s part of the league, you know? You get a guy, you get a coach, flip a coin. It’s going to happen. And when it happens, you just hope they get it taken care of, and I know they got it taken care of.”
Asked what kind of distraction it would present, Randle El was blunt. “It won’t be one. We have too many leaders on the team, from Z-man’s standpoint he’s not going to allow the distraction, and Clinton — Clinton understands how important it is for us to get focused for this week.”
Convinced by Randle El’s persuasive words, the assembled media pack dropped the subject and started asking questions about Cincinnati starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Okay, not really — the questions about PortisGate kept right on rolling.
Jason Campbell‘s take on the subject was similarly blunt — “It’s only a distraction if guys let it be,” he said — but he did reveal that the team captains had led a players-only meeting this morning, and that Coach Zorn had also spoken to the team.
This was exciting news — a players-only meeting about the Clinton Portis issue! — right up until London Fletcher clarified something. “Our players-only meeting wasn’t about Clinton’s comments,” he said. Then, after being told that most of the media was in the process of following that line of questioning, he made a general announcement: “That wasn’t what our players-only meeting was about.”
“Our meeting was about us and what we need to do as far as winning on Sunday,” he said. “State of the team, and how we’re just not where we need to be. Where we’re at in our season, where we need to be, and how we’re going to accomplish what we need to accomplish.”
“It’s about each man taking ownership of what he needs to take ownership of,” Fletcher continued, “and each man believing in what we’re doing as a team, going out there practicing as a team, preparing as a team, playing together on Sundays as a team, and we feel like we can get it done.”
Casey Rabach was philosophical about the whole issue. “Clinton obviously has been controversial before. It’s just part of Clinton, you’ve just gotta take it with a grain of salt,” he said.
“It’s gonna be all right. Certainly, when it hits the fan it really hits the fan. Everybody’s trying to win and everybody’s frustrated and you see that stuff come off, but on Sundays it seems to just kind of take care of itself. Everybody’ll be on the same page, everybody’ll love everybody. It’s a dysfunctional world we live in.”
And Anthony Montgomery had the same reaction to Portis’ interview that I did. “It wasn’t a big deal to me,” he said. “It bored me. I heard on ESPN they were talking about it, so I’m like, ‘Okay, there’s some juicy stuff I’m about to hear,’ but it wasn’t nothing major, I don’t think.”
Coach Zorn did talk to the team immediately following the players-only meeting. “He briefly addressed it,” Montogomery said — mainly encouraging players to speak to him directly if there was a problem, according to a few reports — “but the biggest thing he focused on was going and playing Cincinnati.”