Porter turns up the hate again

Miami LB trying to stoke his fires

By Adam Kilgore
Globe Staff / November 5, 2009

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FOXBOROUGH - Dolphins linebacker Joey Porter professes that hatred for his opponent makes him a better linebacker. He doesn’t like people. He expects the feeling is mutual. It works for him.

Weeks like this, as Porter prepares to play against the Patriots, mesh succinctly with his world view. He said he has a “natural hate’’ for the Patriots, for reasons he had no qualms dredging up yesterday on a conference call with New England reporters.

“My feeling towards New England goes back further,’’ Porter said. “It goes back to my Pittsburgh days. I feel a certain way after some things came out, way back when.

“There was some AFC championships I lost to them a couple times. Come to figure out a couple months later why we lost. So, yeah, I have natural hate for them. Period. And that’s just going to be with me forever. That’s not going to change.’’

While not citing the SpyGate controversy directly, Porter’s not-so-subtle allusion left no doubt. Porter believes the Patriots’ videotaping tactics cost him two trips to the Super Bowl. While he played for the Steelers, the Patriots beat them in the 2002 and 2005 AFC Championship games.

“You can fill in the blanks,’’ Porter said. “You know exactly what I’m talking about. And they know exactly what I’m talking about. And that’s not gonna change from my thought process on that situation.’’

Porter, as outspoken off the field as he is disruptive on it, made five sacks last year in two games against the Patriots. Before the first game, he told reporters the Dolphins were going to treat Matt Cassel “like a backup,’’ then they sacked him four times.

“You know they don’t like me,’’ Porter said. “Let’s be honest. They don’t like me. And that’s fair. I don’t like them, and that’s fair. So it’s not like there’s a divorce happening. We never really was married, anyway.’’

In his third season in Miami, Porter can direct his ire at a division opponent. While the Patriots have long held the AFC East crown, the Dolphins are defending division champs. For Porter, that is all that matters.

“The division goes to the last champion, period,’’ Porter said. “The last champion was the Miami Dolphins. We have the championship until we lose it. It’s ours to lose.

“You can’t just crown the champion because they used to be the champions back in the day. You’re never judged off of what you did a couple years ago, it’s what you’re doing now.’’

Porter’s words have earned him a distinct reputation. In a Sports Illustrated poll this week, NFL players voted Porter the second-dirtiest player in the league. (Rodney Harrison may be retired, but he still earned three votes.) Porter defended himself.

“My reputation is far from playing dirty,’’ Porter said. “I don’t really get looked at as a dirty player. Now, play-hard player, yeah. But playing dirty? Nah.

“Oh yeah, a lot of people don’t like me. But I don’t like a lot of people, either. It works both ways. It’s nothing that’s going to change me every day, me being in that poll. One, two, five, wherever they put me at. Obviously, I was on somebody’s mind, though. So that’s cool.’’

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