As the real meat of the offseason was getting underway earlier this year, Pittsburgh Steelers offensive lineman Ramon Foster took to social media to share a message to all of the team’s alumni, many of whom have entered the realm of the media in retirement. The message? Talk to us before you open your mouth and air your dirty laundry.
It had become routine that some former player or another, whether it was James Harrison or Hines Ward or Plaxico Burress or Josh Harris, on and on down the list, would come out of the woodwork and have something bad to say about something Steelers. And then the players would have to deal with it.
For Foster and Maurkice Pouncey, it was simple. Got a problem? Address it with us first. Apparently Joey Porter, who spent the past few years on the coaching staff before being let go earlier this year, never saw that message.
Pouncey was asked about Porter and other former players having something to say about the team recently this offseason. “I think they forgot my phone number or something”, the seven-time Pro Bowler joked.
In case you need a refresher, Porter recently appeared on NFL Total Access to talk Steelers. He had a lot of positive things to say about new linebacker Devin Bush. He didn’t have much in the way of positive things to say about quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, whom he played with from 2004 through 2006. He has also been around him the past several years, of course, on the coaching staff.
During his spot, Porter faulted Roethlisberger for a lot of what happened with Antonio Brown, saying that his apology, which he offered on the eve of OTAs, came too late. He also said that Roethlisberger uses the power that he wields on the team in a selfish manner, and that the way he carries himself distances him from his teammates because they see the difference in how he gets treated.
“Even if it isn’t fair, fake me out to make me think that it’s good and then I’ll give you everything”, he said. “But when you show me you have it way better than me, yeah, you’re going to create resentment”.
It was a pretty amazing thing to see. Now Porter hasn’t necessarily ever been known as the most level-headed person, but this is a guy who was just on the coaching staff, and he’s badmouthing both a player and a former teammate, and taking the side of another who walked out on the organization.
Pouncey and company just want to move on. It is the outside that keeps dredging up the past. And it’s most hurtful when it comes from within your own circle. As the players rally around Roethlisberger and hoist him up as their leader, he damages the enterprise of the entire group by attacking him.
It’s something of a betrayal, a lack of honor, to take that road after the team’s two most veteran players after Roethlisberger, two of their leaders, publicly addressed all the alumni asking them to keep things in-house only to go on television and do this.