Joey Porter, Levi Jones reunited?
You know what this town really needs? Two teammates with a contentious history including a gambling-related physical confrontation that led a New York Post columnist to insinuate that at least one of them was a thug. That's really what this town needs. Desperately.
If you've been living in Colin Campbell's closet for the last few days, here's a recap. Levi Jones is a tackle who played for the Redskins last season and, as an unrestricted free agent, could again this coming season. Joey Porter is a veteran linebacker who reportedly will be visiting the Skins this week. They used to be fierce NFC north opponents, as part of the Steelers-Bengals rivalry. That perhaps contributed to a much-publicized scuffle at a Vegas casino, which led to misdemeanor battery charges against Porter, a no-contest plea and a $142,000 fine from the NFL.
And (after the NFL Network featured Porter on one of its programs a few months later) led the New York Post's Phil Mushnick to write this:
Thursday, as Vick was heading for court, the NFL Network presented a freshened-up segment championing the league's "Top Trash-Talkers." That's right, despite Goodell's position, the NFL's own network is still presenting trash-talkers as a preferred class, the fellows who should be synonymous with the NFL, even if trash-talking leads to fines, suspensions, brawls, in-game riots and, beyond football, murder in the streets.
Yep, the NFL Network celebrated all the NFL's finest, most excessive latter-day garbage-spewing sportsmen. There was, for example, Joey Porter, now with the Dolphins, but a wonderful trash-talker during his years with the Steelers. OK, so what if that brawl he had just four months ago with Bengals' tackle Levi Jones in a Las Vegas casino began with trash-talk?
And so what if Porter's trash-talking has led to tens of thousands of dollars in fines and the occasional call to 911? And so what if his trash-talking repertoire has included homosexual slurs that would end the careers of those in other businesses and perhaps inspire a drive-by shooting, or two? The NFL wants us to regard him as among its very coolest guys!
"Murder in the streets," eh? Anyhow, the initial Vegas police report cited the two players' history of trash talking with each other, with Jones saying Porter "approached him to fight because they argue on the football field," according to the report.
And while this Jones-Porter rivalry didn't seem to create too many headlines before they met at the Palms, there was at least one on-field incident that did make the papers. During a late-2003 game, the Bengals were driving, deep in Pittsburgh territory, when a play was blown dead for delay-of-game. As so often happens, QB Jon Kitna handed the ball off anyhow, to Corey Dillon, who was then hit by Porter. Here's the Columbus Dispatch's report:
Left tackle Jones took umbrage and shoved Porter, drawing an unsportsmanlike conduct flag. It proved costly, as Cincinnati had to settle for a field goal.
"It was stupid of me to do that, I feel bad," Jones said, "But (the Steelers) were doing a lot of dirty things during the game. Porter slammed Corey late, and he had been trying to get near Kitna and take cheap shots and talk trash at Kitna, as well.
"Pittsburgh, they've been known to be some bullies. They try to bully people around, and I think with this new (Cincinnati coaching) regime, that's not going to happen. We will not be bullied."
"I ran up there mad because he slammed Corey on the ground after they blew the whistle," Jones also said, via the Dayton Daily News. "They were trying to play roughhouse and do a lot of stupid stuff. Plus, he'd been talking all day to my quarterback. I feel bad about it. I can't put that much pressure on my teammates like that. But we won. I'll think positive things and move forward."
Regardless, the casino incident was three years ago this week, so maybe bygones are bygones. And if not, maybe the two can make like Gilbert and Javaris and just find an empty Jacuzzi where they can talk things out.
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