sports
Feb 2, 6:58 PM EST

Steelers' Porter continues war of words



PONTIAC, Mich. (AP) -- Pittsburgh linebacker Joey Porter isn't scheduled to talk publicly again before the Super Bowl. There's some question about which team is happier: his Steelers or the Seattle Seahawks.

Porter kept up his verbal barrage on Thursday, saying the Steelers will be so physical in the Super Bowl they will try to make Seattle quit playing.

"We're going to try to tap out as many people as we can, I'm going to put it like that," Porter said at the players' final pre-Super Bowl news conference. "We're going to try to send as many people to the sideline as we can."

Asked what he meant by "tap out," Porter patted the top of his head with his hand - a sign that the player is tired or injured and wants to come out of the game.

The reaction to Porter's comments was predictable. Some Steelers teammates rolled their eyes and said, "That's Joey" - shrugging off the latest outburst by their most talkative and combative player.

The Seahawks appeared unaffected by Porter's words, much as they did the day before when he erupted over tight end Jerramy Stevens' seemingly harmless comment that Seattle planned to spoil Jerome Bettis' retirement party.

Stevens seemed perplexed by Porter's ongoing verbal baiting and the reaction to it, calling the media coverage "ridiculous."

"This is something I wish I didn't have to deal with, but it's not that big a deal," Stevens said. "What's said right now won't have any impact on Sunday. I'm pretty close to unaffected. It doesn't have any bearing on how I'm going to approach the game."

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Still, a day after both players sat at small tables with few people around them for news conferences, Porter and Stevens each got a podium to accommodate the large crowds that wanted to hear them on Thursday.

By contrast, league MVP Shaun Alexander and Pro Bowl starting quarterback Matt Hasselbeck of Seattle and Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger had much smaller crowds than either Porter or Stevens.

"Some people need something to be motivated. If that's what he found, that's what he found," Stevens said. "I don't feel I was out of line. I meant what I said. I am not going to repeat it to stir something up. I meant it, and I meant it with no disrespect."

Both coaches played down any affect on the game by Porter's constant talking, but Seattle coach Mike Holmgren talked to his team about not creating any more distractions.

"Jeremy won't say anymore the rest of the week," he said, mindful that players have no more scheduled interview sessions before Sunday's game. "I didn't really make too much of it."

Steelers coach Bill Cowher said Porter has always been emotional and "was only being himself."

Porter said he wouldn't have said anything if Stevens hadn't talked.

"I don't want to go into a situation where you can't say how you really feel and you're acting like it's going to be a nice day," Porter said. "It's not going to be a nice day. They're trying to come out and win the same trophy I want to win and only one of us can have it.

"Now I know how they really feel, and now I can tell you know how I really feel. I don't have to hold any punches any more. If they're looking for a fight, I've been ready for a fight."

Several Steelers acted as if they wish Porter hadn't spoken out, possibly giving the Seahawks extra motivation - especially during a week the two Super Bowl finalists otherwise have been respectful of each other.

"We had to keep him on a gag order a little bit," receiver Hines Ward said. "But if they start it, Joey is going to finish it. Trust me."

Steelers linebacker James Farrior laughed when he heard the "tap out" comment, saying he's never seen an NFL player ask to be taken out because the game was too rough.

"I don't know if he's going to be able to tap anybody out. This is the Super Bowl," Farrior said. "He's going to really have to play hard to tap somebody out."

Unlike AFC teams, the Seahawks aren't accustomed to Porter's outbursts. Farrior suggested that might account for their reaction.

Earlier in the playoffs, Porter suggested the Colts were a soft team. Then, after the Steelers upset Indianapolis 21-18, Porter accused the game officials of "cheating" the Steelers and said the NFL badly wanted Peyton Manning and the Colts to win.

Cowher stepped in to end that talk, calling Porter's comments "ridiculous."

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AP Sports Writers Andrea Adelson and Gregg Bell contributed to this report.

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