Clinton Portis Says Redskins Players Used To Take A Shot of Hennessy Before Every Game

Pittsburgh Steelers v Washington Redskins

Former Redskins head coach Jim Zorn had a difficult time as a rookie head coach trying to convince a group of veteran players to believe in him and his system. To make matters worse, he had to take over the team as a replacement for Joe Gibbs, and it happened following the tragic death of Sean Taylor.

When Zorn came aboard, he made a decision to end a tradition among the players and he lost the locker room almost immediately. That tradition included taking a shot of cognac before games.

Here’s Clinton Portis and Santana Moss speaking about it:

“[Zorn] ruined that recovery trail,” Portis said referring to the team recovering after Taylor’s tragic death. “I think it’s known now — even if it’s not, I don’t give a damn; I’m grown — myself, Santana and Sean, prior to the game, we would take a little shot … [of] Henny, [cognac]. We were drinking Hennessy. Me, Santana and Sean, we did this for a year-and-a-half before anyone knew.  It was never two, three- four shots… From that point, we did it every game…

“All of a sudden Coach Zorn comes in, and [says] ‘Oh, yeah, guys are taking sips for Sean.’ What?”

Moss said that Zorn pushing back against the pre-game tradition ultimately led to his downfall.

“It was something that we just did. We didn’t want it to be magnified. We didn’t want it to be about us, because we did and went out and played the game of football the way we know how to play…

“He just kind of lost a lot of us, you know. He said that and that kind of lost us together.”


Zorn went 12-20 over two seasons before his time was up. The franchise has only had two playoff appearances since the death of Sean Taylor and hasn’t won a playoff game since the 2005 season.

(USA Today)



2 playoff appearances

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