|Joey Porter and friends|
In Pittsburgh, it's not just a great day, it's a glorious day. And Joey Porter's Pit Bulls have faithfully kept the candle burning, Peezy. Welcome back. And if your dogs Tina and Nemo are still with you, they're welcome, too, although not likely by the local equine population, keeping in mind they killed a horse. Which, naturally, inspired this blog in 2006. Not that we condone that sort of thing, although we must admit "A Letter From Joey Porter's Pit Bull" by The Mighty MJD (Matthew J. Darnell) is damn funny.
The Steelers announced on Tuesday that Joey Porter will join the coaching staff as a defensive assistant, a role that generally involves grunt work and film review. We guarantee, however, that Mike Tomlin isn't bringing in the former Pro Bowler to do grunt work. Joey Porter's coming in to kick some ass.
Joey Porter will bring with him the fire and intensity the Steelers have been sorely lacking the past few years. He can't help himself. That's who he is.
What's more, Joey Porter will bring the Voice of Reason, just as as he did in his heyday. Remember when he called out Jerame Stevens before the Super Bowl? The Voice of Reason. Remember when he called the Indianapolis Colts soft? The Voice of Reason. Remember when he stood up to the Baltimore Ravens, on any number of occasions? The Voice of Reason. As crazy as he may have sounded at times, Joey Porter made sense when it mattered most. For better or worse, he routinely set the tone ... raucously, outrageously and honestly.
Joey Porter is a veritable statesman. And the Steelers need his wisdom as much as they need his passion. They also need his experience and expertise teaching linebackers to play the position.
His job, presumably will be to tutor the young linebackers, starting with 2013 first-rounder Jarvis Jones, 2013 sixth-rounder Vince Williams, 2014 first-rounder C.J. Mosley (Alabama) and 2014 fourth-rounder Michael Sam (Missouri).
Yeah, that Michael Sam. And why not?
The facile, NFL-politically correct answer to that question is Sam is a "tweener" as an undersized defensive end. According to the Missouri Tigers website, Sam is listed at 6'2", 255, which is three inches taller and about the same weight as another undersized defensive end who has had some success in the NFL: Elvis Dumervil, not that anybody is comparing the two players. It's worth making the point, however, that similarly sized defensive players can make an impact in the NFL.
The Steelers themselves have a history of drafting undersized defensive ends and turning them into linebackers. It worked well for Joey Porter himself; not so well in the case of Chris Carter (6'1", 248), among others.
By all accounts, Sam's brief trial at linebacker during the Senior Bowl practice week did not go especially well. He may be better off to stay at defensive end. He might be a better fit for a team with a scheme that feature smaller defensive ends. The Steelers' defensive ends are at least 290 pounds.
Sam could hardly have accomplished more in college or piled up more accolades. He was a unanimous First-Team All-American, the SEC Defensive Player of the Year, and his own teammates named him Team MVP after a season in which the Tigers went 12-2 and won the Cotton Bowl.
Oh, and there's that other issue that shall go unnamed, but ... For what it's worth, his teammates selected Sam as Team MVP after the season and long after he came out in a team meeting in spring camp.
One thing that scouts shouldn't question is his "character." He made the announcement knowing full well what he's in for, and that took courage and character. He'll be taunted, threatened, jeeered, ridiculed, teased, jibed, goaded, drawn into fights, and degraded. He knows that.
Michael Sam will be the center of attention at the NFL Combine and on Draft Day, just like Mante Te'a was last year. It will be interesting to see where Sam ends up in the NFL. Let's hope for his sake it is not Cleveland.
Joey Porter's Pit Bulls (Feb. 13, 2010): "Good Luck, Peezy"
Gene Collier: "NFL Trying to Find the Right Words Dealing With Michael Sam Situation"
Frank Bruni (The New York Times): "Panic in the Locker Room!"
Kissing Suzy Kolber: "Steelers Bring Back Joey Porter to Teach the Way of Peezy"
Behind the Steel Curtain: "C.J. Mosley Doesn't Have Many Weaknesses"