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‘They Shot Me In Denver!’: Joey Porter Jr. Recalls Favorite Moments Of Dad In Pittsburgh

The Pittsburgh Steelers may or may not be bringing in another Joey Porter later this week. The son of their former edge rusher, Joey Porter Jr. of Penn State, is expected to be a first-round draft pick and should be available in the area of the first round in which the Steelers select—at cornerback, a position of need.

Whether that comes to fruition or not, he already received a sort of welcome to the Steelers’ cornerback room, hopping on the All Thing Covered podcast—co-hosted by former Steelers cornerback Bryant McFadden and his cousin, current Steelers cornerback Patrick Peterson. Both were teammates with his father and asked him for some of his favorite memories with the Steelers, both as player and as coach.

“Probably ‘They shot me in Denver’”, Porter Jr. said, recalling an iconic moment during the 2005 Super Bowl run. “That would probably be it. I’d seen that everywhere growing up. Shoot, that clip gets me ready for games sometimes”.

Porter suffered a gunshot wound in the buttocks following an incident outside of a bar in Denver, CO, on August 31, 2003, which caused him to miss the first two games of the regular season. They did play the Broncos that year, losing 17-14. Porter had six tackles, one for loss.

They did not play again, however, until the 2005 AFC Championship Game, the second-seeded Broncos hosting the sixth-seeded Steelers. After defeating the Indianapolis Colts in the Divisional Round, Porter, always a vocal leader, amped up his teammates after head coach Bill Cowher advised him to watch what he said that week.

“Hey, I got that!”, he declared, “they shot me in Denver!”, before leading his teammates into the ‘Who Ride? We Ride!’ chant. It’s become a famous video over time, and understandably so. But that’s far from the only notable moment he had in Pittsburgh, either in the locker room or on the field, or even as a coach.

The Steelers hired Porter as a defensive assistant in 2014 after having last played for the team in 2006 (he was teammates there with McFadden in ’05-06, and later teammates with Peterson with the Arizona Cardinals in ’10-11). He was promoted to outside linebackers coach in 2015, and remained on staff through 2018.

While his most famous moment was in the playoffs when he coaxed Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Adam Jones to commit a penalty that put the Steelers in game-winning field goal range, his energy as a young coach and former player was frequently seen in his interactions with the players.

“The celebration with Willie Gay when he got the [pick-six]. They did like seven different celebrations and got a flag”, his son recalled as his favorite moment of his father as a coach in Pittsburgh. That was another memorable moment—the flag drawn well before Porter was involved.

Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton was knocked out of the game on the first drive after hitting his hand on a helmet and throwing an interception to Stephon Tuitt. Rookie A.J. McCarron replaced him the rest of the way, having only attempted four career passes up to that point. Gay got him on the second play of the second half, walking it back 23 yards for a touchdown, his fifth career pick-six, having had three the previous year.

As you can see, Porter joined the celebratory shenanigans while the unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Gay was already being announced by the officials, taking place in what was about to become a 23-7 game. Cincinnati did start its next drive from the 32 and managed a field goal, however, so clearly it was a travesty ultimately undermining a 33-20 win on the road against a good divisional rival.

Porter was indisputably quite a character, but he always had the talent on the field to back it up. Whether or not that also applied to his coaching career is a matter for debate, though when the Steelers did not renew his contract, they didn’t hire another outside linebackers coach. He is currently busy working on Hines Ward’s coaching staff for the XFL’s San Antonio Brahmas, though their season is now over, having finished 3-7. Rod Woodson’s Vegas Vipers finished 2-8, in case you were wondering. The playoffs begin on April 29.

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