Leading up to the 2014 NFL Draft, current and former Steelers’ players will be sharing their Draft Day Memories, from the time they went to the NFL Scouting Combine, through the moment they were drafted. In this installment, former Steelers linebacker Joey Porter shares his memories.
Joey Porter – Third Round – 1999 – Colorado State
“For me the combine was more about wanting to go against all of the guys rated above me. I was fired up about that. I was going there for a chance to show all of the guys that were projected to go number one that I was faster, stronger and more agile than all of them. I was fired up about going there and doing that.
“You are excited and nervous at the same time. You are more excited than nervous, though. I was excited to go out there and have these coaches take a chance and look at me and try to up my draft stock. I knew what I was going there for. It was a business trip. I was excited.
“I remember being interviewed by Pittsburgh. It was more about what I was asked to do at my position when I was in college. It was all football.
“I worked out at my pro day. I ran a 4.4, did the bench about 36-37 times and my vertical was 38 inches. I tested well so I was happy.
“I think there is more pressure at the combine than the pro day because it is first. You want to compete against whoever the best is. You want to run those 40-yard dashes right, especially now they televise the combine. Everybody’s pro day isn’t televised. The combine, everything is out there now. Everyone is at the combine, your pro day it just might be one guy that comes and looks at you.
“I honestly thought it was going to be Dallas that drafted me. They had given me some Cowboys shirts and hats, took the family out to eat at the Outback Steakhouse, 15 of us. They told me they were going to take me in the second round. They gave us all of this Cowboys stuff. They gave my brother a cell phone. The Cowboys called me and played with me on Draft Day. They told me they needed the cell phone back because they were going in a different direction. They weren’t calling to say they were going to take me; they were calling to get the cell phone back. They were on my list to get them from the beginning.
“I remember they took Solomon Page from West Virginia. It wasn’t the worst thing that happened to me because anywhere on the first day was a plus for me. but having the opportunity to think I was going in the second round, with how I did in the combine, and Mel Kiper had me on the board I was excited about that.
“I will never forget it. We played Dallas in a preseason game and I was going against Flozell Adams and beat him around the corner. I sacked Troy Aikman and made him fumble. I remember looking at the coaches on the sideline and being fired up pointing at (Dave) Campo and he knew what that was looking at them, thinking you could have had me but you didn’t. You always get excited about going against a team that passed on you. It’s always added motivation. That was the only team I started off having a chip with.
“But it all turned out when the Steelers called. I remember being in a room by myself when the Steelers were ready to pick. My phone was ringing all day before that and it was supposed to only be for ‘the’ phone call. But people were calling all day checking on me. I got some calls early in the draft, but when my name started to get mentioned I was like, okay now leave the phone alone.
“I knew how long the first two rounds would be, but it actually went faster than I thought. When I got the call from the Steelers I was on the phone just saying yeah, yeah. I don’t even know what anyone was telling me or asking me. I was just agreeing to whatever was said because I was so excited.
“I remember coming out of the house and telling everyone and there were tears, yelling and screaming. It was all of that and above. It’s like it was when we won Super Bowl XL. The draft was the first Super Bowl and then I got the real one. That was the biggest moment in my life until we won the championship. Having my kids and getting married, I had never been that excited in my life until we won the championship. To have that excitement twice is pretty special.”