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Old 08-22-2006, 03:58 AM   #1
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Default Porter changes his tune

Porter changes his tune
Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Joey Porter cut through gaps and sliced around offensive linemen Monday afternoon, running with passion and showing no signs of knee problems that delayed the start of his training camp.
When it came to reversing his field, however, the Steelers' Pro Bowl outside linebacker saved his best work for after practice. Four days after telling the NFL Network he is underpaid and considering holding out, Porter changed his stance Monday.

Asked specifically whether he's happy with his contract, which will pay him $3.85 million this year and $5 million in 2007, Porter said his presence in training camp should be taken as a positive answer.

"I've been here; I've been here the whole time," Porter said. "(Holding out) was something that was not going to happen. If I was angry or grumpy or something, I wouldn't have been here. ... I don't know what the argument is about. I'm here, I'm talking to all my coaches, I'm happy. I'm still breaking the team down, and my leadership role hasn't changed. I'm still out there doing my thing."

Porter, 29, led all NFL linebackers with 10 1/2 sacks last year and had three more in the playoffs while helping lead the Steelers to a Super Bowl championship. He ranks sixth on the team's all-time list with 53 and needs one more to surpass Greg Lloyd.

The average annual value of Porter's contract, which he signed in February 2004, is $4.354 million. That ranks 11th among all outside linebackers and is a far cry from the $7.71 million that Julian Peterson, the league's highest-paid outside linebacker, will make this year after signing with the Seattle Seahawks as a free agent.

Porter said the media is to blame for his comments becoming a hot topic since they were uttered Thursday.

"When you guys don't have a thumb or wreck to talk about, you're going to look for the next best thing and create a story," Porter said. "Well, I don't have a story for you."

Porter's comments contrast with what came out of his mouth last week. Porter not only said he is underpaid -- "I definitely feel that I have outplayed the contract that I am under" -- but he also said coach Bill Cowher had to talk him into reporting to camp on time.

"We had a talk, and it was, 'I need you.' I was unhappy," Porter told the NFL Network. "There was no use lying about it. I wasn't going to talk to anybody and just play football since they made it the business it is. I was ready to just come out here and give them the business.

"I didn't have to come out here and be nice to anybody, but me having a talk with coach Cowher and the relationship we have, I feel like I can suck it in, even though I'm not happy with the contract, go out there for coach Cowher and play like I know how to play and just put it all in God's hands and see what happens next year."

Porter said yesterday that the media was reporting "old news" about his contract situation even though last week's television interview was the first time he publicly talked about his deal since May. Other reporters asked Porter about his contract, but he kept declining comment until NFL player Marshall Faulk, moonlighting as a co-host on the league's TV network, broached the subject Thursday.

"That's been over months ago," Porter said yesterday. "We don't even talk about it. That was the media's first time hearing about it, so you want to make a story out of it and say it is a distraction. There is no distraction. I've been here, I've been participating and doing everything I can. There is no story. ... You guys saw the NFL Network and said, 'Let's bring that back.' There was nothing there."

Wide receiver Hines Ward, who held out of training camp last year when he had one year left on his deal, said neither Porter's words nor his contract situation have been issues this summer.

"Players don't read much into it," Ward said. "He showed up on time. He's here, he's working his butt off, he's rehabbed (his knee injury), and he's out there being a leader. What he says doesn't concern us because we know what Joey is going to bring to the table each and every weekend."

Porter said he's through talking about the subject.

"I'm not going to keep creating something for you guys to talk about," he said. "If you didn't watch the NFL Network, you missed it. That was it, and that's all."
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