The 2023 NFL Draft helped the Pittsburgh Steelers make good on the NFL slogan, “football is family”. Not only did they draft the brother of a player who is already on the roster, after having also done so last year, they have now drafted the son of one of their former players in Penn State cornerback Joey Porter Jr.
The upbringing Porter had is impossible to replicate, a fact that is by no means lost on him. The entire family is elated to stay in Pennsylvania and to have Junior work for the same team that gave Senior his opportunity in the league.
“The Steelers mean everything to me”, the rookie told Teresa Varley in a recent article for the team’s website, for which she spoke to the whole family. Varley has been around long enough to remember Joey Jr. running around the facility when he was just a couple feet tall. Now he’s 6’2”, 193 pounds. But he hasn’t forgotten where he came from—it would be hard to when you’re coming home to it.
“They treated me like I was a player when I first came into the building, and I was just a kid”, he told Varley. “And then I came again when I was in high school and they treated me with love and let me do all the things I needed to do to elevate my game, going to training camp, letting me be a ball boy to be around the players and everything. The Steelers always treated me nice, and this is just awesome”.
Although Porter didn’t spend most of his youth in the area, he ended up back in Pennsylvania during his teen years, playing for North Catholic and then North Allegheny, eventually settling in with the Nittany Lions during his college career.
It was a formative time during his teen years when his family returned to the area while Joey Sr. came back to coach for the Steelers. We’ve heard numerous times by now the opportunities he had to interact with the players at the time, watching the likes of Antonio Brown, and even getting the chance to scrimmage again him—even if the future Hall of Famer would pull his punches against the teen.
But now it’s time for him to carve out his own legacy, as his father will be the first to tell you. And he has, on numerous occasions. Of course, he will be a resource to his son, but he wouldn’t dare get in the way. He didn’t even see his son much during the pre-draft process, himself busy coaching in the XFL.
“Now that he is going to have his chance to tell his story and play football in Pittsburgh, it is awesome”, Porter Sr. told Varley. “Now he has the chance to tell his story and play football at the same place as me, it’s just awesome”.
The number 55 that Dad wore is still celebrated by fans, and his impact on the city is certainly not forgotten. Now wearing number 24 in honor of “Uncle Ike” Taylor, who was his father’s teammate, Joey Porter Jr. is looking to make people remember that number for what he will do in it.