The Washington Redskins currently have a 2-4 record, nothing to be proud of, especially after an abysmal 4-10 season last year. Who’s responsible for that futility? You may want to blame Head Coach Jay Gruden who was at the helm both last season and this one (so far).
ESPN 980 radio hosts Steve Czaban and (former player) Chris Cooley recently invited another Redskin, Clinton Portis, to share his opinion of Gruden and the team in general. And since Portis and Cooley are no longer in the NFL, they were far more honest with their assessments than you’d expect.
The most interesting aspect of the conversation was not that both players defended Gruden, but that they spilled the beans on what life in the NFL was like under a previous coach, one who was more interested in spreading Christianity than putting together a successful football team.
Steve Czaban then asked if Gruden was in danger of losing the locker room.
“No, no, no, no, no,” Portis said. “Now I know who did lose the locker room, and that was Coach [Jim] Zorn. Coach Zorn lost the locker room here.”
“Coach Zorn lost the locker room because he split the locker room between Christians and ballplayers,” Portis said. “So if you didn’t believe in what he believed in, if you weren’t [Christian player] Antwaan Randle El — I’m saying it, I’m going to talk, I’m on the radio — if you weren’t Antwaan Randle El, if you weren’t the guys who sat and prayed with him and did everything the way they thought your life should be, you kind of got, ‘Well, you’re not doing right’ speeches directed toward you…”
You know, we talk a lot on this site about how Christianity is pushed on high school football players, but we shouldn’t forget the problem still exists at the college and professional levels. Even if a player isn’t a fan of the preaching, he’s expected to nod his head and smile or else be seen as defiant and a bad teammate. Even when playing sports is a business, religion finds a way through.
Those coaches love to say that the players are always on board with it. But when you have a former NFL star like Portis admitting that he wanted no part of the preaching, you have to wonder how many players with less name-recognition felt the same way. Now think about what happens at the high school levels when these kids are just forming their religious views.
It shouldn’t be happening at any level, in any sport.