From 2002 until he hung up his football cleats for good in 2010, Clinton Portis racked up nearly 12,000 total yards from scrimmage and scored 80 touchdowns playing for the Denver Broncos and Washington Redskins. By all accounts, the 5-foot-11, 220-pound running back was a really good NFL player. But would your opinion change if you knew he took a shot of Hennessy before he took the field for every game?
Much like a college student would have a drink at home to pregame before going to a party, Portis told Kristine Leahy of Fair Game on FS1 that he would take a shot of the famous cognac in the locker room before games.
The reason? To help with the pain he had playing in the National Football League, where he rushed for 9,923 yards and was selected to two Pro Bowls in nine seasons.
Instead of taking a Toradol shot, which is generally used for short-term treatment of pain, the former University of Miami star and former second-round pick in the 2002 NFL Draft, created his own pregame ritual to get ready to take the field.
“It was a turn-up. For me, it wasn’t like I was getting drunk. We took one shot. I wasn’t taking Toradol shots. I wasn’t doing drugs… I’m already in pain. I don’t know one football player that’s not in pain during the season, especially playing running back where I am getting 25 and 30 carries a game. For me, it was kind of like this shot, I’m going out to play, this is going to take the pain away or the fear or whatever it was. After I took that shot, it was, ‘Okay, now it’s time to go do this’ instead of going to lay down and take a Toradol shot.”
— Former Pro Bowl Running Back Clinton Portis, via FS1’s Fair Game
As unorthodox as it might be, it worked for one of the NFL’s top running backs in the 2000s.
In an interview with NBC4 Sports, Portis also said he would take the shot with former wide receiver Santana Moss and the late Sean Taylor.
For Portis, the second-leading rusher in Redskins history, drinking Hennessy wasn’t just a thing to do for the heck of it. Taking a little shot was a way of life for the former NFL running back to deal with pain management.