I hate to do this, I really do, but I think Joey Porter needs to be defended a little bit here…
This morning’s articles, and in sports flashes and reports over the air since yesterday afternoon have, with a couple of exceptions, painted Joey Porter’s conference call with Boston reporters yesterday as just another Patriots hate session from the Dolphins linebacker.
Yes, Porter makes no secret of the fact that he hates the Patriots, and thinks that “Spygate” cost him two Super Bowl championships. However, during yesterday’s conference call, it was clear that Porter was being deliberately led down a path that would lead to him again revealing his hatred of the Patriots. He even mentioned it several times in the call, (which is available to read and listen to on Patriots.com- I encourage you to listen to the call…it’s pretty revealing at times.)
Let’s look at a few of the questions and answers from the call, along with my thoughts (in italics):
Q: Joey, do you have any reaction to the Sports Illustrated poll that has you the second dirtiest player in the NFL? (Nice opening question – let’s just get him in a bad mood to start off, maybe he’ll explode)
Q: Do you think it’s because some people don’t like you and put you on the list?
JP: Oh yeah, I have a lot of people that don’t like me. That’s fair to say. I don’t like a lot of people. It works both ways.
It’s nothing that’s going to change my everyday me being in that poll — one, two, five, wherever they put me. Obviously,
I’m on somebody’s mind though, so that’s cool.
Q: Why don’t people like you, Joey? (Did she really just ask that? Yup.)
JP: What’s your name? (Joey needs to know the name of the person who asked such a pathetic question.)
JP: I don’t know, Karen. (I actually love this. Gets her name, like he’s going to address her personally. I see Karen Guregian with her pen poised in mid-air, ready to write down the explosion that is to come. “I don’t know, Karen.” is all he says. Perfect.)
Q: Last year with Matt Cassel, when he was here, you said you’d treat him like a backup. Obviously, Vollmer is a backup as well. So how are you going to treat him? (The object of this question seems clear – Porter went off on Cassel last year before the first game between the teams, maybe we can get him to do it again with another backup player.)
JP: You have the answers there already. You want me to say what you want me to say. Like you want me to answer that question. You answered that question about how I felt about [Matt] Cassel, you’re trying to get me to say the same thing about him so you can say, ‘Joey Porter’s talking about the backup.’ You go ahead and fill in the blank. I’m not falling for none of those little tricks. I get mad when I want to get mad. Right now, [with] you guys, none of you guys I’m mad at, so I’m not going to sit up here and give you nothing to talk about because I’m mad at neither one of you media guys in that room. So if that’s what this conversation is going to be about, about fishing, then you guys ought to come out here to Miami and we’ve got some good lakes we’ve got to fish here. You can come too, Karen.
(Porter calls them out on the question, knowing exactly what they’re trying to do to him, and he doesn’t seem to like it. He even tries to change things up by being funny. As we’ll see, it doesn’t work.)
Q: Joey, I heard the word ‘hate’ a lot in that locker room after you guys beat the Jets, and how you guys felt about them. And I remember you saying it’s always going to bring your best football out when you hate the other guy. You’ve played against the Patriots for quite some time whether it was with the Steelers or it was with Miami, what’s your feeling towards New England? (Duh. Did they have to be so obvious? Like they don’t know. )
JP: Same way they feel about me. So do you want me to say it first? (Again, Porter knows what they’re trying to get out of him.)
Q: I don’t know if they like you. (Playing dumb again.)
JP: You know they don’t like me. Everybody knows, 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 it’s a divorce happening, we were never really married anyway.
(It is what it is.)
Q: So you bring the same approach into this game as you would against the Jets last week?
JP: Yeah, it’s good to have a healthy rivalry. And, like I’ve said, to have a rivalry we have to win some, they can’t be one-sided. We split with them last year and the year before that they beat us twice. So this is my third year and [in this division] going up against them and we’re trying to change the way it used to be. My feelings toward New England goes back further. It goes back to my Pittsburgh days, so I felt a certain way after some things came out, way back when. I was in Pittsburgh for some AFC Championships that I’ve lost to them a couple of times that come to figure out a month later why we lost. So, yeah, I have a natural hate for them – period. And that’s just going to be with me forever. That’s not ever going to change.
(Now he decides to give in and give them what they want. Or he is just toying with them.)
Q: Can you identify what you’re referring to there, Joey? (Again, Duh. Why couldn’t one of them asked whether shoddy special teams might’ve had something to do with the Steelers losing that first AFC title game? THAT would’ve made for an interesting response.)
JP: Nope. You can fill in the blanks. Y’all are smart guys over there. (C’mon you idiots. Let it drop.)
Q: But you felt it cost you rings, then? (Salt. Wound. Rub. Maybe he’ll say even more. Please please please.)
JP: Yeah, I mean we do this every year around this time I do this conference call. You know exactly what I’m talking about. And they know exactly what I’m talking about. And that’s not going to change from my thought process on that situation.
(Haven’t we talked about this enough? Just read what I said the last 20 times this topic came up.)
Finally, the last part of the conference call was real football questions. Asking about facing Tom Brady, about what the Patriots did to them in the second game last year, how they spread them, and if last week’s game might’ve been a turning point for the Dolphins. Porter gave much more expansive and intelligent answers to those legitimate questions. Did you read any of that stuff today? Probably not.
It seems pretty clear to me that the object of this press conference was to lead Porter in a certain direction, with the object being to get the most inflammatory, outrageous answers possible. The general first impression that comes out of the reporting on this call is that Porter was just spouting out his hatred of the Patriots unprovoked, which just isn’t true. It is being said that Porter “tried to behave” – but how could he really? The media had a object in mind from this call, and they were going to do all they could to tweak Porter into giving it to them.