Snider: Skins Have Good Connection with The U

Rick Snider's Blog 10.06.06--The Redskins would be in deep trouble without their guys from "The U".

  We've all heard of "The U." Some outlaw bunch of thieves, cut throats and undesirables who have ruled college football for years.

  The University of Miami has sent the most players to the NFL of any college in recent years and some jerks like Michael Irvin and Kellen Winslow have furthered the image that the Hurricanes are a bunch of idiots.

  But here's the big surprise -- the Redskins have three who are actually decent guys and fun to be around every day. And before you jump me right away over Sean Taylor, he's really more of an immature kid than a jerk. He's not a bad guy at heart. He wouldn't even make my top 50 jerks over the years around Redskins Park.

  I'm really talking more about Santana Moss and Clinton Portis. I wondered what they would be like when arriving last year. It took about two seconds to realize that myth didn't equal reality.

  Clinton and Santana are playmakers to be sure. So is Sean, who is like a missile coming out of the secondary. But even more so, they're good people.

  Sunday night after Portis became the first back to gain more than 100 yards against Jacksonville and Moss caught three touchdowns, including the overtime game winner, provided a glimpse of the interplay between the Redskins two standout players. Portis joked to the media that Moss was some cross-eyed receiver who makes defenders whoozy.

  "He's one of the best cross-eyed receivers I ever met," Portis said. "If he weren't cross-eyed it would be hard for him to adjust to those balls, being that his eyes are always messed up. The corner never knows what he's going to do."

  First, let's set things straight -- Moss' eyes aren't strange. (I can't say the same for Mark Brunell after the game, though. His left eye looked like someone who was smashed a couple times during the game.)

  Portis likes to joke, though. I have never seen anything like last season when he created a character each week for the media. Imagine, a player concerned enough to actually entertain the press when most barely tolerate us. That was cool. That Portis created "Southeast Jerome" as a tribute to one of Washington's neighborhoods was amazing given he was new to town. I'll bet most Redskins players don't even know there is a southeast D.C. because most never go into town except maybe to clubs. Portis showed me a lot as Southeast Jerome.

  But even Moss has some limits with his old college buddy. (All three are also Miami natives.) Asked about the cross-eyed reference on Monday, Moss fired back his own message.

  "Sometimes I have to say 'Clinton, stop playing with me,' " Moss said. "I don't like to be played with all the time. That's my boy, though. Whether he says something that's true or not, I'm going to laugh at it."

  Portis reminds me a lot of defensive end Kenard Lang, another former Miami player who was drafted by the Redskins. Lang was hysterical, always joking about sidekick hefty Dan Wilkinson's eating habits like "I eat salad, he eats pasta salad" and opponents "Look like Tarzan, play like Jane."

  So next time you think about "The U." be a little less suspicious. They're not bad guys. I've met coach Larry Coker a few times and he's the nicest person, too. The guy who sells roadside produce. Really makes me wonder where this bad boy image really comes from.

  All I know is Miami alums are a lot of fun.

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