The Pittsburgh Steelers decision to allow the contract of linebackers coach Joey Porter to expire this offseason was not a great surprise when it was announced last week, but the words that followed from a local beat reporter as a reason for his effective dismissal were.
According to Mike Prisuta, a writer for the team’s own website among other publications and a WDVE radio host, the motivation behind letting Porter go may have been less about his coaching talents and more about the way he negatively impacted the locker room.
Had a couple offensive players share complaints about Joey Porter late in the season, that he was trying to pit the defense against the offense in a divisive manner. The approach wasn’t understood or appreciated. This looks, smells like a move to address culture, chemistry.— Mike Prisuta (@DVEMike) January 4, 2019
For a man who was known as the emotional leader of the defense for most of his eight years as a player in Pittsburgh, someone who had close relationships with an number of his offense teammates, the notion that Porter presence was damaging to team harmony was strange to hear.
However, if the players that worked with him every day are to be believed, the tale that Prisuta was told is actually far from the truth.
Well they were wrong Coach Porter was always about brotherhood‼️ Your statement is far from the truth. From the time I walked into the lockeroom, Coach Porter had the respect of everyone and was one of the realest in the building. He ain’t the scapegoat. #bigFACTS https://t.co/hbBd4Z5K4v— #BOSrackz #QuiickBandz (@civilSAVAGE1) January 9, 2019
People saying that Joey Porter was tearing our team apart is so inaccurate ! That’s so crazy— Anthony Chickillo (@Chickillo56) January 9, 2019
Oh so we just making up lies now— Big Bud (@Bud_Dupree) January 9, 2019
Spoke w/ Bud Dupree, who said Steelers OLBs had group text re: report Joey Porter divisive w/ O/D, didn’t agree. Porter told position to not meddle in Brown/Big Ben issues, said Dupree, who added offense doesn’t ever share problems. ‘We have to learn how to be together,’ he said.— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) January 9, 2019
I second everything you said bro https://t.co/4Gf5B1HXeR— Ryan Shazier (@RyanShazier) January 9, 2019
This is wild this is far from the truth. Don’t tarnish this mans reputation. He was never about drama and only worried about how the defense/OLB played. https://t.co/milDW6lhFY— Olasunkanmi Adeniyi (@Love_Ola_9) January 9, 2019
With Porter already out of the door and nothing to be gained by sticking up for a coach who has already lost the support of management, it is hard to believe that so many of his linebackers would speak out in his defense if they were not telling the truth. If nothing else, their actions speak to the loyalty Porter inspired in his players.
Regardless of the reasons for his dismissal, perhaps the bigger questions we should be asking about the complaints Prisuta aired on social media are - why were two offensive players anonymously bad mouthing a coach who just been fired?, and why was a reporter from the team’s own website the only one to hear these rumors?
Like many of the leaked reports that have emerged out of Pittsburgh from unnamed source as of late, there appears to be some debate about the integrity of the initial information. But sadly, that seems to be par for the course when it comes to the Steelers these days.