LATROBE, Pa. – Defensive assistant Joey Porter is just getting started in the coaching profession, but he already knows all he needs to know about one of the men he’s working for this summer at Saint Vincent College.
That would be defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau.
“To play for a guy like Coach LeBeau is something special. That’s why he is who he is and when guys say they love him, they’re not just throwing that word around. They really have true feelings for Coach LeBeau just because of how he treated us as players and how he is as a coach.
“To have an opportunity to come back and coach and learn from Coach LeBeau, that’s crazy. I know I’m blessed by having this opportunity, not only being able to come back home to Pittsburgh but being in the same room with Coach LeBeau and really learning the reason and the why we did things, what better way to start off my coaching career than to have a legendary guy show me the ropes.”
Porter met the media acknowledging that he wasn’t “comfortable” making individual assessments of players, and that he would leave such evaluations to “legends” such as LeBeau, linebackers coach Keith Butler and assistant head coach/defensive line coach John Mitchell.
But there was still plenty to talk about. Among the subjects broached by Porter:
On playing linebacker for the Steelers:
“The standard’s been set way before we were born. It’s something (Jack) Lambert and those guys started years ago. You have a certain sense of urgency to play linebacker in this system. Every day you go to practice, they look on the wall at the practice facility and the names are up there. They know what we expect out of them. They know what the city of Pittsburgh expects out of them. That just comes with the territory when you play linebacker in Pittsburgh.”
“Either you have that type of passion for the game or you don’t. When I was a player it kind of worked easier because I could be out there in the fight with them. Well, I’m not in the fight with you, so my words aren’t going to carry the same weight because I can’t actually go out here and fight those battles with you. I can do all the rah-rah stuff I want, but I’m still a coach. I’m just going to be on the sideline. I don’t have opportunities to go out there and make that play to back up my words, so that’s different. I’m going to still do everything I do with the same passion that I have for the game because I just love football. But I can’t put the battery in their back to make them do anything special. They either have it or they don’t.”
On if the 2014 Steelers have it in them to become something special:
“We’re young, we’re in a growing process. When it happens they’ll know it happened. They’ll know it before us.”
On when the 2005 Steelers knew they were something special:
“When our backs were up against the wall and we had to play Chicago and we knew in that situation we couldn’t lose any more games. And we won those four games, and then we knew every playoff game would be on the road, but we knew just to get in we couldn’t lose any more. We were the same team we had that was 15-1 the year before; we just didn’t know why we were playing bad early. Once we figured out we couldn’t lose any more, players took it amongst themselves. We had talked about getting Jerome (Bettis) to a Super Bowl, and if we don’t win this game it’s really kind of going to be over. And that game, Jerome came in there and ran over (Bears linebacker Brian) Urlacher and that just kind of set the tempo of, ‘You know what? The time is now. We can’t lose any more. We can’t look back.’ And we didn’t.”