The questions kept coming and Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker Joey Porter kept sidestepping them. He bristled occasionally, shrugged his shoulders more often than not and usually kept his voice low, almost as if he was engaging in a normal conversation. More than 100 reporters crowded near him, hoisting their microphones and tape recorders as close to his face as possible, but he never relented. Super Bowl Media Day would pass without Porter popping off. He was committed to that goal.
But on Wednesday he couldn't resist. Told that Seattle tight end Jerramy Stevens had in essence guaranteed a Seahawks' victory, Porter did what he does best. He spoke his mind.
"I've been asleep all week but now I got woke up," Porter said Wednesday. "I've got my first taste of blood and now I'm thirsty for more. Until now, it was 'Watch what I say,' 'I can't say this,' 'I can't say that,' 'Don't do anything silly,' but I'm ready now. "You look for the guys that say something that aren't supposed to say nothing, and I feel like he definitely was out of pocket to say what he said. I'm going to make sure he owns up to those words."
Some guys vanish when they create bulletin board material. Not Porter. He's already proven that he plays his best when stupid comments start flying out of his mouth. The more he talks, the more combustible he becomes and opposing offenses usually wind up paying for that. When Cincinnati quarterback Carson Palmer shredded two ligaments in his left knee during the Steelers' wild-card win over the Bengals, it was Porter who kept egging on the Cincinnati players, often chortling and antagonizing them whenever possible. Of course, it wasn't surprising when he led a Steelers defense that overwhelmed Cincinnati in the second half of that game.
Porter was no different in Indianapolis a week later. He basically called the Colts a soft team before the game and he basically called the referees cheaters after it. In between, he racked up 1.5 sacks, one of which would've sealed that game late in the fourth quarter if Jerome Bettis hadn't fumbled on the 1-yard-line on the next play. That performance was indicative of the impact Porter has had on the Steelers throughout their current seven-game winning streak. He's registered 7.5 sacks during that stretch, mostly because he's been playing at his usually insane level -- and cackling most of the way.
Now that the Steelers are in the Super Bowl, I was eagerly awaiting the moment when Porter would utter a line that made headline writers giddy. I knew it would happen sooner or later. Nobody that provocative could avoid the temptation for long. He remained quiet in the week leading up to the Steelers' win over Denver in the AFC Championship and that's only because coach Bill Cowher begged him, once again, to muzzle himself. I just couldn't see him lasting two whole weeks from that point to this game without giving in.