Friday, February 3, 2006
DETROIT, Feb. 2 -- Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Joey Porter was at it again Thursday, taking more verbal potshots at Seattle tight end Jerramy Stevens and vowing to direct big-time shots at him Sunday on the field in Super Bowl XL.
Stevens had said Tuesday that although the return of Steelers running back Jerome Bettis to a Super Bowl in his home town was a "heartwarming" story, it would end badly for Bettis because the Steelers wouldn't win the game. Porter responded Wednesday, then again during the Steelers' final session with the media Thursday morning.
"You don't want to come into the game thinking you are going to lose," Porter said, surrounded by a dozen camera crews and a five-deep circle of reporters. "But at some point in time you are supposed to not say something. I don't think he is worth enough to talk like that. Personally, I think he's soft. This is his fourth year in the league and you have never heard anything about him until right now.
"He was a first-rounder. You aren't too good if you're a first-rounder and you barely play four years later. . . . You're barely getting on the field in your fourth year? And he got on because somebody got hurt, so I don't really respect his game or anything he talked about. . . . When you get a chance to take it personal, it gets you a little fired up. Now I feel like I have a chance to make it personal and I thrive off that. . . . They have been looking for a fight. I've been ready for a fight."
Steelers Coach Bill Cowher described Porter's Wednesday comments as "just Joey being Joey. I was pretty proud he lasted this long [without sounding off]. He's an emotional leader for our team."
Seattle Coach Mike Holmgren also played down the verbal smackdown, saying, "I don't feel much about it. You won't ever hear Jerramy say anything here for the rest of the week. I guess going through Super Bowl week without anything like that would be unusual. You know as well as I do the game will be decided by what happens on the field."
Stevens made an appearance at the Seahawks' media session Thursday and was surrounded by a number of cameras and reporters, but was hardly as outspoken as Porter.
"I don't regret it," he said of his comments on Bettis. "I definitely meant no disrespect toward Jerome, he's a Hall of Famer. . . . I don't know much about Joey, [but] something he likes to do is look for something to get motivated on. If that's what he's found, that's what he's found. I'll be ready to play."
Stevens was asked if too much has been made of it.
"Without a doubt," he said.Picture Story
Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck said this week that he'd gotten some motivation early in his NFL career when Holmgren, then his coach in Green Bay, left him and the other members of the Packers' practice squad out of the team picture as a rookie. Holmgren said Thursday that Hasselbeck might have been stretching the truth to spin a good yarn.
"I'm not sure that even happened," he said. "That might be one of those things where he had some time [to think] and just got the ball rolling. If I did exclude him, I am very, very sorry. But I don't remember that happening."Polamalu Probable
Safety Troy Polamalu suffered an ankle injury during the Steelers' practice but is likely to be in the Pittsburgh lineup Sunday. He was listed as probable on the team's official injury report. . . .
A large group of Steelers players ate dinner at the home of tailback Jerome Bettis's parents. . . .
Cowher said that starting fullback Dan Kreider would still be listed as questionable with a sore knee for the game. Kreider hurt himself during the Steelers' playoff victory over Denver and aggravated the injury during practice last week in Pittsburgh.
-- Leonard Shapiro and Mark Maske