King Kaufman's Sports Daily

Steeler valiantly tries to ignite Super Bowl controversy with trash talk. Go, fellas. Talk some smack!


Salon Staff
February 2, 2006 10:00PM (UTC)

Aw, aren't they cute? They're trying to come up with some controversy up at the Super Bowl.

Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Joey Porter semi-exploded in quasi rage Wednesday over what may have been a near guarantee of victory by Seattle Seahawks tight end Jerramy Stevens, who may not have meant to nearly guarantee a victory, and who also may not be Jerramy Stevens, a tight end, a member of the Seattle Seahawks or present in Detroit.

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But, gosh darnit, Joey Porter's good and mad!

You have to admire Porter's attempt to inject some life into a Super Bowl week that's been exceedingly polite, dull to the point where, on two different occasions Wednesday, someone almost talked about football within a 50-mile radius of Ford Field.

Police were called to both scenes, which ended without incident.

Here's what happened between Stevens and Porter. You'd better sit down. This is going to get rough.

Stevens was talking Tuesday about Jerome Bettis of the Steelers -- I don't know if you've heard this, but Bettis is from Detroit -- and the prospect of the great running back winning his first Super Bowl, in his hometown, in what figures to be his last game before he retires.

"It's a heartwarming story and all that, but it will be a sad day when he leaves without that trophy," Stevens said.

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Was that a near guarantee of victory, as the press quickly dubbed it? If so, it would almost be the biggest thing to nearly happen in the NFL since Randy Moss pretended to moon the crowd in Green Bay. If not, well, uh ... Hey, Ben Roethlisberger! How long have you been a white quarterback?

Fear not, friends. Joey Porter took umbrage.

"I've been asleep all week but now I got woke up," Porter said. You see, Porter, a very good linebacker who's been playing at an astounding level in the playoffs, just couldn't seem to get himself motivated for the biggest game of his life.

He'd been wandering around Detroit, apparently, stopping every few steps, going, "Now, what was I doing? Oh, yeah! The Super Bowl. Have to play football on Sunday. Right, right. Whatever." And then a few steps later: "Wait, what was I just thinking about?"

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I mean, it's not like this is a big mid-October game against Arizona or something. It's hard to stay focused.

"I've got my first taste of blood and now I'm thirsty for more," Porter said Wednesday. "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."

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Porter went on for a while about how Stevens, who had a good year, is "too soft to say something like that" and hadn't earned the right to proclaim that the Seahawks were going to win.

He's supposed to say, "I don't think we have a chance," right? Stevens answered Porter by saying he wasn't guaranteeing anything, he was just saying what he felt, whatever that means.

Why Porter had been thinking he couldn't say this and couldn't say that and shouldn't "do anything silly" is beyond me. If there's ever a time to do something silly, I'm thinking it's Super Bowl week.

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And by doing something silly I just mean something like talking smack about the other team, not, say, getting busted for soliciting a hooker or going off your medication and on a bender in Tijuana.

The idea is you're not supposed to say anything that would give the other team extra motivation to beat you. The shorthand is "bulletin-board material." If you do say something, look what happens: A guy like Joey Porter gets his first taste of blood and he's thirsty for more.

The whole concept of bulletin-board material is just a way for coaches to keep their players in line, to exert authority. Coaches are older and more sober and serious than their players, and they want those players to be as much like them as possible. They call this being professional.

But if you're playing someone who needs bulletin-board material to get up for a championship game, you've already won anyway.

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In fact, giving the other team bulletin-board material might actually be a good strategy. As Stevens said about the frothing Porter, "If he is worried more about me than someone else, that's cool. That helps us."

It's just received wisdom in sporting circles that by talking trash, you help the other team by giving them that extra motivation. Cautionary tales are told of teams putting the hurt on opponents who have dissed them. Hardly anybody talks about the times when smack talk works, or at least doesn't hurt.

Muhammad Ali made a career out of giving his opponents bulletin-board material. I recall him being mildly successful. Victories are "guaranteed" all the time, and you know what? From Joe Namath on, they get delivered a lot of the time. I wonder if it's most of the time.

I think Porter senses what this Super Bowl needs and leapt into action. It needs more smack talk, more chest thumping, more outrageousness. Let's plaster those bulletin boards.

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Joey Porter, I'm saying it right here in front of a worldwide readership: The Pittsburgh Steelers are soft, baby, soft! They're a finesse team! You heard me! The F word! Troy Polamalu is a lack of a haircut masquerading as a free safety, and you guys are about to get carved up by a bald quarterback.

And if you think you're going to get anywhere by giving the ball to that old fat guy on offense, forget it. Maybe you should have your inexperienced small-college quarterback throw it to one of those wide receivers who washed out as a signal-caller. Better hope those gadget plays work because they're your only chance.

And you, Seattle Seahawks. Yeah, I'm talking to you. Where the heck is Seattle, anyway? Isn't that in, like, Canada? Why do they let minor-league cities like that into the NFL? You better hope that judge in Texas takes your side on the 12th Man thing, because you're going to need all the help you can get. You might need 15 men on the field to win this game.

Did your receivers ever learn to hang on to the ball? I don't pay attention to foreign news so I haven't been keeping track. Is Shaun Alexander still crying about that one yard he didn't get last season for the rushing title? I see you're the NFC champions. Did you play any teams this year with actual football players on them?

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I'm just asking, and as long as I'm asking questions, how about you get some real uniforms?

I'm surprised I have to step in and do this sort of thing for people who are supposed to be professionals.

Previous column: NFL's deadly weight problem

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