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Porter puts a sock in it

Time for talking over for linebacker

DETROIT -- Put Joey Porter one-on-one with a running back, tight end, or offensive lineman, and he is confident he'll win the matchup.

Yesterday, the glib Steelers linebacker went one-on-several hundred, and as he often does with opposing blockers, he flew past enough media queries to come out on top at Super Bowl XL Media Day at Ford Field.

Porter said he realized that some of the contingent around his podium were bent on getting him to say something disrespectful, something outlandish, something interesting that could bring a bit of controversy to a boring Super Bowl week.

''I can tell when you're looking for something; I can tell when you're fishing for something," he said. ''I'm not going to [take] your bait.

''I'm not really a spokesperson. I mean, there's a reason why I don't do the press conferences, and why Coach [Bill] Cowher doesn't let me do the press conferences.

''I'm not going to be the guy to sit up there and tell you lies. I'm going to give you my honest, truthful answer. That might not always be the best thing, but I can't sit up here and tell you something about how I'm not feeling. You ask a question, I'm going to give you an honest answer.

''That honesty might not always be the best thing."

That honesty plays well in a media world so often seeking sensational sound bites. Rarely does Porter's superb play -- he has a sack in each of the Steelers' three playoff victories and he led the team with 10 1/2 sacks this season -- garner the attention that his words do.

''The bigger story is what I say," Porter said. ''The big story isn't how I go out there and play football. The bigger story is: ''What's he going to say next?" That's the only reason why I have people waiting for me right now. They feel like they're going to tug and tug and tug until he breaks. But it's not going to happen. I'm not going to give you anything special but to answer these questions, one at a time, and I'm going to take my time doing it."

Porter came closest to getting upset when he was peppered with repeat questions about Seattle's Walter Jones, widely regarded as one of the top offensive tackles in the game.

At one point, Porter said he was tired of talking about Jones.

''I'm not going to sit here and answer questions over and over and over about Walter Jones, Walter Jones, Walter Jones, Walter Jones. How many ways can I say he is a good tackle?" Porter said. ''I mean, I've got to go against the guy. He's not sitting over there just hollering about how great I am, and I'm not going to sit up here and holler about how great he is all day."

No more questions about Jones.

Porter doesn't try to distance himself from his words -- he has the phrase ''Bad Boy" tattooed on his right biceps for a reason -- but he gets upset when what he says gets taken out of context.

A few weeks ago, he was told the Colts bragged about their new physical style after a regular-season win over the Steelers. His response that the Colts weren't a particularly physical team drew national scorn and ridicule.

A few days later, after the Steelers stunned the favored Colts, Porter's postgame comments criticizing the officials, who made a blatant miscall in overturning a game-clinching interception, were replayed more than the two sacks he was in on late in the fourth quarter.

''Is what you say more important than what you do?" Porter asked facetiously.

Not to the Steelers, who recognize Porter as a leader.

''Joey is the emotional leader for our football team without a question," Cowher said. ''He is the kind of guy that gets us going. We have some unique personalities and Joey is unique in his own sense. I've never been one to try and harness guys. I just want them to be respectful of the game and of the opponents. I love a team that plays with emotion, plays with passion. I love being around people that love to do that and Joey does it in his own way, and without a doubt Joey is an emotional leader for our team."

Overall, Pittsburgh is possibly the most talkative team on the field in the NFL. Porter, once ejected in pregame warmups for starting a fight by jawing with an opponent, is the vocal inspiration for the Steelers' defense, but his teammates say he isn't the loudest mouth on the team.

''Half the time I don't even understand what he's saying," linebacker James Farrior said. ''He's got a high-pitched voice, and when he raises his voice it gets higher, and the other half of the time [the stadium] is so loud you can't hear, but we feel his energy more than anything."

Nose tackle Casey Hampton, an enforcer -- both verbal and otherwise -- said Porter isn't the biggest Mouth of the Allegheny.

''He's not even the biggest talker on the team, [Larry] Foote is," Hampton said. ''Foote is much worse than Joey is. He talks from the start to the finish, the first snap to the last.

''That's the difference in our team and a lot of other teams. We're winning or losing, whatever, we're talking. We're not front-runners, that's our game -- we're going to try to talk you out of yours."

All of that talk was mild yesterday. But the publicity Seattle's offensive line is getting as the best in the game is grating on the Steelers.

Of course, Porter was among those to point that out.

''They think they have the best offensive line in the game? I feel like we have the best offensive line in the game," he said. ''We have an offensive line to match their offensive line.

''It's a natural competition. You don't want to hear about somebody else being the best. You feel like you're the best. Every player, deep down when he tells the truth, feels like he's the best. I mean, I feel like I'm the best at what I do.

''You have to feel that way. You can't walk onto the field feeling second best to nobody. [If you do] you're already losing. Most people just aren't going to say it."

Joey Porter will. But that's about all he would say yesterday.

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