Joey Porter’s Unfortunate Actions A Distraction Only To Himself

You have no doubt heard by now that Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebackers coach Joey Porter was arrested in the night following the team’s Wildcard Round victory over the Dolphins. Yesterday, the team officially placed him on leave, which may leave his future status with the organization up in the air.

And that is fair, to be sure. After all, if coaches are not held to at least the same standard as players are, then, frankly, there is something wrong here. Porter’s reported behavior that night is out of line with what should be expected of somebody who is functioning in the role of a teacher, and an ambassador of a brand.

Which is unfortunate, indeed, because it has been good to have Porter back in Pittsburgh and on the coaching staff, though, based on reading through the comments of the previous articles discussing this situation, there are many who disagree with that, citing the outside linebacker position’s sack totals.

But Joey Porter is, after all, a young coach. He has an entirety of four years’ worth of coaching experience, including one at the college level, one in 2014 as a defensive assistant with the Steelers, and two since 2015 serving as the newly-established ‘outside linebackers coach’ position, one half of the division of what was once the job of a linebackers coach.

Speaking of his relative youth, Porter is barely a year older than his best outside linebacker, James Harrison, who recorded a strip sack in the red zone against the Dolphins on Sunday in addition to chipping in on another sack and 10 tackles in the game.

The Steelers to a man have vowed that the arrest of one of their coaching staff will not be a distraction to them as they continue on their playoff run, and I would be inclined to take them at their word. After all, it’s not as though they are lacking for resources.

Defensive coordinator Keith Butler knows a thing or two about teaching linebackers. He was the Steelers’ linebackers coach for many years up until two seasons ago. Jerry Olsavsky is also on the staff as the inside linebackers coach, and I’m sure their functions are not entirely mutually exclusive.

It’s also worth noting that when Harrison was re-signed, the Steelers talked about the decision in part in light of the fact that he was a sort of a mentor to the young linebackers on the team—Ryan Shazier even featured him, as well as Porter, on his cleats prior to Sunday’s game.

It is not as though the defense is going to be heading into Kansas City suddenly blind and not knowing how to function as a unit. They certainly have plenty of minds available to them to get by. What the future holds for the outside linebackers coach position beyond this season, on the other hand, remains to be seen. Perhaps Kevin Greene does come back into coaching? That would certainly be making lemonade out of lemons.

Still, I feel for Porter in spite of his obvious lapse in judgement and hope that he lands back on his feet. The team did thrive on the energy that he brings to practices and on the sideline on game day.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi
Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.
  • When you refer to the comments in previous articles you give us power. Don’t give us power, lol. Kidding aside, I think the organization has handled it professionally. I also hope Peezy lands on his feet no matter what the outcome. I can’t lie, Kevin Greene coaching our linebackers is an exciting thought. Might be tough at first to win guys over in the linebacker room but I think he eventually would and they would respect him a lot

  • Brendon Glad

    It would be a lot bigger deal if a master craftsman of the Steelers OLB position wasn’t playing and dominating his side…probably with little help from the sidelines (although I can’t say for certain).
    Maybe on the other side, it could affect Dupree a little. But he can look across the defensive huddle or sit on the bench next to Deebo and probably catch a quick read from JH just as fast as he can get it from J Peezy.

  • Sam Clonch

    “Distraction to only himself” – and high strung fans.

  • Brendon Glad

    Very true. I will always have love for Joey Porter, and if the OLB’s were as raw as the CB’s it would have been a huge problem, but as long as James Harrison is playing, he will keep his side fundamentally perfect…and probably be able to advise Dupree on the fly.
    During film this week, yes, the other LB coaches will need to step-up and make sure Dupree is up to snuff on his assignments. As James Harrison should not be distracted with that responsibility.

  • nutty32

    If you want to talk about someone who’s function is that of a ‘cheerleader’ ole 55 was that guy. I highly doubt Joey was chipping in any insightful X’s & O’s or a master of teaching technique. His suspension is really a non-factor; no one outside of Pittsburgh even knows about this.

    I always thought the Steelers hired Joey as a favor to him.

  • Jim Foles

    Maybe turn on the NFL Network?

  • IndianaCarson

    I know that many commentors on this site would like to see Kevin Greene as the possible replacement for Joey Porter. But I think that James Harrison would be a much better choice. He is already known and respected by the other linebackers. His strength preparation, work ethic and skill set are legendary and copied by his teammates. His on-field ability is exceptional for a player his age and his loyalty to the Steelers is unquestionable. Since he has proven himself as an outstanding player, why not give him an opportunity to prove himself as a great coach?

  • RickM

    Good column. I agree that they have the coaching resources to handle the issue. I assume Olsavsky will handle the sideline coaching of all four LB positions throughout the game, with help from Butler above. It’s not a big deal, but obviously not ideal. I am all for a second chance for Joey if the team goes that route. But the fact he allowed this to happen in the playoffs sure won’t help his chances. My guess is the team will move on if the facts are close to what has been written.

  • LucasY59

    I think James wants to either play or be home with his family, IF he comes back to football after his playing career is over, it will be after a few yrs when his sons are in college/grown up (he could be a coach for his boys, but I doubt he jumps straight from playing to coaching in the NFL)

  • Sam Clonch

    Eh… I wouldn’t mind seeing James eventually, but he has no coaching experience obviously. Greene has coached, and coached well. Winning a SB over some other pretty amazing team if I recall! Hard to say anyone isn’t going to respect him either, he IS a hall of famer after all at the position. If James wants to get into it, he’ll have to get out and pay his dues like Joey and Kevin did. Still wouldn’t mind it though.

  • Michael Conrad

    I like Joey and feel sorry for him but his lack of judgment when the Steelers are in playoff mode is just wrong and he can’t be allowed to continue in his role as coach.
    I will say I think bouncers are bullies not all but some are so was he set up by the guy who he had a run in with before maybe but again you don’t put yourself in that situation in the first place.

    I would love to see Kevin Greene come in for an interview after the season if Joey gets canned.

  • Dorian James

    I really liked Joey as a couch and I will wish him well. But mentioning Greene for that spot is a great idea that I hope happens.

  • IndianaCarson

    I have to agree that your counterpoint makes a lot of sense that I did not think about. I appreciate your input.

  • treeher

    Everybody seems to be assuming Joey is gone. But isn’t it more likely that he will be suspended for the playoffs and return next year? If you apply the same rules to the coach as you do the players, that’s probably what would happen. It’s not like it’s a repeat offense.

  • IndianaCarson

    As with LucasY59, you state some obvious points that I did not think about and make sense that maybe it is a bit early to think about JH being a coach. I appreciate it that you pointed that out to me.

  • capehouse

    If only you could pick and choose what distracts you.

  • Jacob

    The lack of OLB sack totals may not be a reflection on Peezy, but on the “he is a young coach” excuse I don’t think he should be doing his “on the job training with the Steelers” who desperately need production asap.

  • Dan

    I think it really depends on how regarded he is as a coach by the org. If they view him as not particularly effective, this could be the trigger to make a change. If he is doing well, then he should get whatever discipline and life goes on. Personally I expected more from our LB crew, but it’s too hard to tell from LB stats (or lack of them) since there are so many factors in unit success. I imagine we’ll know by the end of the playoffs.

  • Bradys_Dad

    Let’s not forget that this man has a family. Let the first of us without sin cast the first stone right? The situation and system will play out and at some point decisions will be made. Nothing said here is going to have any effect on anything. Thank God I didn’t have the media to deal with when I’ve screwed up big time. All will be well folks. Have faith.

  • Joeybaggadonuts

    Love Peezy and his “Barn boss” attitude and I’m a big supporter of the men in men and women in blue. Another reader mentioned to look up the officer in question. I have a feeling there is more to the story that will be revealed. The Steelers are just playing their cards close to the vest because they have to and should project support for law enforcement.

  • Matthew Marczi

    He’s already worked with Anthony Chickillo before little bit nd is a semi-frequent visitor. Shazier had his face on his cleats.

  • Matthew Marczi

    I was debating on addressing the arresting officer’s history. Decided against it.

  • Joeybaggadonuts

    Totally respect that…especially in today’s climate. We as jackasses have the protection of hiding behind monikers. It is your name and until you get to be the next Gene Collier ($$$) you have to be careful. Love Peezy & Respect the Blue…there are a few bad apples…not assessing any judgment either way at this time but his past was iffy. Peezy although no Pacman ain’t a choirboy either.

  • will

    Debo would have to check his public “Goodell comments” to be successful as a coach Think he can do that?

  • will

    How does that song go about AL….CO…..HOL? LOL

  • will

    People do stupid things…….unfortunately for the police, they have to react to them. Or if they back off…….you get what we now have in Chicago.

  • Bradys_Dad

    Let it go my friend. Let it go.

  • SilverSteel

    I would like to know why our coaches would be out partying during a playoff run? Why are they not preparing for the next opponent? You can’t prepare (watch film, scheme etc…) DURING practice, so I would think they have to do that between practices on the off days and nights. How do you prepare adequately with a 2 day hangover? Harrison is back in the weight room at 6am right after a game.