Clinton Portis explains why he took Hennessy shots before Redskins games

Yahoo Sports
Clinton Portis said he would rather take a shot of Hennessy than a shot of Toradol. (Getty)
Clinton Portis said he would rather take a shot of Hennessy than a shot of Toradol. (Getty)

Clinton Portis was one of the NFL’s more candid, outgoing characters when he was playing football.

Now that his playing days are over, it shouldn’t come as that big of a surprise when he admits to something that other players might decide to keep to themselves.

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But his admission to FS1’s Kristine Leahy about his pregame routine while playing running back for the Washington Redskins is still eyebrow-raising. He used to drink cognac before games. Hennessy, to be specific.


Portis: Hennessy ‘was a turn-up’

“That’s true,” Portis said when asked about drinking Hennessy. “If you’re going out to have a good time, you pregame, right? … It was a turn-up. For me, it wasn’t like I was getting drunk. We took one shot.”

So it turns out, Portis — like many of the frenzied fans in stadiums who spend their mornings or afternoons pregaming at a tailgate — supplemented his hype for the game with a little extra boost before taking the field.

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But the booze wasn’t all about pregaming for Portis and his unidentified fellow shot-takers. While the idea of approaching the high-energy atmosphere of an NFL game like he would a night out dancing makes sense on a certain level, Portis said the booze also addressed the more brutal aspect of playing football.

It helped him with pain management.

Portis: Hennessy better than Toradol

“I wasn’t taking Toradol shots,” Portis said. “I wasn’t doing drugs. It was more of, instead of taking the shot, I’m already in pain. I don’t know a football player that’s not in pain during the season. Especially when you’re a running back, and I’m getting 25 and 30 carries a game.

“For me, it was kind of like this shot, and I’m going out to play. Like this is gonna take the pain away or the fear, or whatever it was. Like now it’s time.”

Clinton Portis’ admission of drinking liquor before NFL games addresses the pain-filled side of being a modern-day gladiator. (Getty)
Clinton Portis’ admission of drinking liquor before NFL games addresses the pain-filled side of being a modern-day gladiator. (Getty)

Portis: Booze addressed pain, fear

That’s a dark admission that addresses the modern gladiator aspect of American football. Football players put their bodies on the line every snap and are paid handsomely at the game’s highest level for that sacrifice.

Make no mistake. These men are gladiators. They’re risking their short-term and long-term health every Sunday for the sake of entertaining the raving masses. That Portis felt the need to supplement his routine to address “pain” and “fear” he experienced before and during games speaks to just that.

NFL’s love affair with Toradol

Instead of taking Toradol, he drank. Teams routinely ply NFL players with Toradol, a powerful anti-inflammatory, just so they can play through the pain that the game inflicts on their bodies. Without it, it’s reasonable to surmise that some couldn’t play through the pain.

Toradol use comes with a significant list of side effects, including risks to gastrointestinal and kidney health. It should also be noted that if somebody needs Toradol to complete a task that will inflict more pain, maybe that’s something that person shouldn’t be doing.

Portis chose to skip the Toradol and supplement his game days with another well-known health risk.

“After I took that shot, it was like OK, now it’s time to go do this instead of going to lay down and take a Toradol shot, which all of the sudden comes out is hazardous to your health, is dangerous to you. I skipped that curve.”

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