Ashburn, Va. On his 28th birthday, Clinton Portis was trying to be low-key. No big party this year. “I’m going to mind my business,” he said Tuesday as he walked off the Washington Redskins practice field.
But at the mention of the word “Riggo,” he wasn’t about to bite his tongue.
Portis kept up his running feud with Hall of Fame running back John Riggins on Tuesday. Portis, who has a chance to overtake Riggins this year as the franchise’s all-time leading rusher, is clearly getting tired of being criticized by the legend he’s pursuing.
“I think he was a great running back, but, you know, think of who else was around him,” Portis said. “That was really not hard to be a great running back when you’ve got that talent all around you. I think they just had great teams, you know. I think everybody who played in that era as a running back is big around here.”
Kansas University product Riggins rushed for 7,472 yards in the 1970s and ’80s for the Redskins, much of it behind the stalwart offensive line known as the Hogs. Portis needs 1,370 yards to take the No. 1 spot.
As a radio commentator in retirement, Riggins hasn’t been shy about criticizing any and all facets of his former team. Among his comments about Portis, Riggins in January called Portis “a headache” who needs to change “the way he views himself and views his contributions to the team.”
“The idea for him to be a legend, and to hate as much as he hates,” Portis said. “To be upset that I’m on his tracks, for the comments or the ill will that he has toward me and don’t know me. You know, it’s crazy. You did your thing. The people around here love you, and I’m not trying to replace you. I don’t want to be you. Your background check and my background check are totally different, so I really don’t feel like he can comment on nothing I do.”
“It ain’t no ill will,” Portis said. “I’m minding my business, and hopefully he’ll do the same. ... He deserves to be a legend.”
Niners release Huard
Santa Clara, Calif. — The San Francisco 49ers have released quarterback Damon Huard. After the move Tuesday, Nate Davis is in line to be the team’s No. 3 quarterback behind starter Shaun Hill and backup Alex Smith.
The 36-year-old Huard is a 12-year pro best known for his lengthy backup stints behind Miami’s Dan Marino and New England’s Tom Brady.
He started 13 games over two seasons with Kansas City.
Panthers acquire lineman
Charlotte, N.C. — The Carolina Panthers addressed their biggest need Tuesday by acquiring defensive tackle Louis Leonard from the Cleveland Browns for a 2010 late-round draft pick.
Rams send CB Hill to Falcons
St. Louis — The St. Louis Rams cut ties to their top two picks from the 2006 draft on Tuesday, trading cornerback Tye Hill to the Atlanta Falcons for an undisclosed draft pick and releasing tight end Joe Klopfenstein.
Browns place Tucker on IR
Berea, Ohio — The Cleveland Browns struggled without offensive lineman Ryan Tucker last season. They’ll be without him again — and maybe for good. Tucker, who considered retirement before reporting to training camp this summer, was placed on injured reserve Tuesday by the Browns. The 12-year veteran likely will miss the entire 2009 season.
Saints’ Bush doubtful
Metairie, La. — Reggie Bush could miss his third straight preseason game Thursday night when the Saints play host to Miami, while fellow running back Pierre Thomas is expected to sit out for the second time in two games. Bush hasn’t played since straining his right calf during joint practices with the Houston Texans during training camp.
Dolphins sign Williams
Miami — Ricky Williams signed a one-year contract extension that will keep him with the Miami Dolphins through 2010, according to salary information posted on the NFL Players Association Web site on Tuesday.
Sharapova easy winner
New York — Maria Sharapova simply couldn’t bear the thought of a U.S. Open taking place without her. So while sidelined with a torn shoulder a year ago, she refused to follow the tournament on TV. Basically pretended it wasn’t even happening.
On Tuesday night, Sharapova was right where she likes to be: on the Grand Slam stage and in the spotlight. The 2006 U.S. Open champion returned to the tournament with an impressive 6-3, 6-0 victory over Tsvetana Pironkova of Bulgaria.
Earlier Tuesday, Dinara Safina came perilously close to becoming the first No. 1-seeded woman to lose in the U.S. Open’s first round. But she eked out a victory over 18-year-old Olivia Rogowska, 6-7 (5), 6-2, 6-4.
Rockies add Giambi
Denver — The Colorado Rockies have added former AL MVP Jason Giambi to the active roster. The Rockies on Tuesday also added right-hander Joel Peralta, left-hander Randy Flores and catcher Paul Phillips.
Griffey to undergo MRI
Seattle — Ken Griffey Jr. is having an MRI and visiting a doctor to find out why his surgically repaired knee still hurts. The 39-year-old had arthroscopic knee surgery in October.
Power’s season likely ended
Indianapolis — IndyCar driver Will Power is expected to miss the rest of this season but will not need surgery to repair the broken bones in his back.
NU granted extra player
Lincoln, Neb. — The NCAA is granting Nebraska a waiver that will allow the Cornhuskers to have 14 players on scholarship for the 2009-10 season instead of the usual 13 scholarships.
The waiver was based on conflicting initial-eligibility standards for newcomer Christian Standhardinger. Nebraska originally determined the 6-foot-8 German didn’t meet NCAA academic requirements.
FIU to play Tar Heels
Miami — Isiah Thomas’ last game as a college player was against North Carolina, when he and the Indiana Hoosiers won the 1981 national championship. A week of uncertainty now over, his first game as a college coach will be against the Tar Heels as well.
Ex-Tiger heads to Norway
Columbia, Mo. — Former Missouri guard Matt Lawrence is headed to Norway to begin his pro basketball career. The 6-foot-7 sharpshooter started three seasons for the Tigers and helped lead the team to a school-record 31 wins and an NCAA regional final appearance last season. He finished second in career three-point shots made at Missouri.
Ex-Kentucky player charged
Lexington, Ky. — Police say they have arrested former University of Kentucky basketball standout Edward Davender in a scam to sell fraudulent season tickets for the upcoming season. Lexington, Ky., police say Davender is charged with three felony counts of theft by deception and one count of trafficking a controlled substance within 1,000 yards of a school. The 43-year-old Davender played for the Wildcats from 1984 through 1988, including two years as an all-Southeastern Conference player.
Michigan coach sued
Columbia, S.C. — Michigan head football coach Rich Rodriguez has been sued in federal court by a bank claiming he failed to pay back millions on a loan for a struggling Virginia condominium project, according to court documents.
Alabama player shot
Tuscaloosa, Ala. — Alabama defensive end Brandon Deaderick was released from the hospital Tuesday after being shot in the arm during a robbery attempt at an off-campus apartment.
T’wolves: Rubio backed out
Minneapolis — Timberwolves president David Kahn says Spanish point guard Ricky Rubio has backed out of a deal to play in Minnesota this season. Kahn says the Wolves negotiated a deal Saturday night with Rubio’s Spanish pro team.