In today’s day and age, sports have been bastardized at every level. Parents vicariously living through their children’s lives, almost dying to be the center of attention. We’ve all seen the videos where parents get into physical altercations with coaches, officials, and other parents during games.
Well, not all parents are trying to inject themselves into their child’s career. One of those parents would be former Pittsburgh Steelers player and coach, Joey Porter Sr. Has Porter prepares to watch his son, Joey Porter Jr., get drafted in the 2023 NFL Draft, he has taken a step back and let his son enjoy the spotlight.
“I don’t (do interviews) because it’s his journey and his time,” Porter Sr. told Brooke Pryor of ESPN. “I don’t ever wanna make the situation about me because it’s not, it’s about him.”
Porter has had himself a fine career which included a remarkable run to Super Bowl 40, helping the Steelers win that “one for the thumb”. Even after his time coaching the outside linebackers under Mike Tomlin, Porter is determined to not get in the way of his son’s path to the NFL. Instead, he wants to allow him to experience everything on his own.
“Sometimes I get to talk to him before (the visit), sometimes I don’t,” Porter Sr. said. “It’s not really anything I have to prepare him for in that situation, because at this point in time all you have to do is just go in there and be you, be a good person. Let them see that.”
This sounds great, but what about his son? Is it an advantage or disadvantage to have a dad who is already known among the NFL?
“I feel like it’s a big advantage,” Porter Jr. said. “Not too many people have people in their family that have done it before. So the fact that he has, and he’ll be in my corner and has saved me from bumping my head on certain instances. It’s big to me and I definitely use him a lot.”
When it comes to leveraging your father who was a big-time NFL player and eventually coached in the league, it came with benefits for young Joey Porter Jr. He still recalls going head-to-head vs. Antonio Brown as a young player.
“I remember as a young kid, I did one-on-ones with [Antonio Brown] so that was a nice treat,” Porter Jr. said at the NFL combine. “I know he wasn’t going 100%, but just to be able to line up against him was something special.”
For the Steelers, everyone assumes the team will be taking Porter Jr. if he is available to them in Round 1 at pick No. 17. After all, it’s the Steelers...they love legacy players. When you consider the amount of family ties they’ve had under Mike Tomlin (Edmunds brothers, Watt brothers and now the Heyward brothers) it is safe to think they’ll show plenty of interest. Tomlin doesn’t shy away from the bloodline aspect of drafting players.
“It’s really simple: Professional football is less of a mystery for them,” coach Tomlin said. “It’s less of a dream for them when someone in your close proximity is living that out, be it a older sibling or a parent.
“You see it, you know what it’s about, you understand it. There’s less dreaming about it and more planning and taking action to create that end result. And I just think that that creates a higher potential floor and makes the acquisition less mystical.”
Tomlin isn’t the only coach in the NFL who has a vested interest in Porter Jr.’s bloodlines. According to the Penn State product, his father has been brought up in almost every meeting he’s had with an NFL organization.
“He’s brought up probably every meeting I’ve been in,” Porter Jr. said with a wide grin at the combine. “Just, ‘How’d you grow up with him? How was it? Was he in your corner?’ Simple stuff I was just asked today. He’s brought up a lot. No big deal.”
Whether the Steelers take Joey Porter Jr. with their top pick in the 2023 NFL Draft is up for debate, but it also should be noted the Steelers would be considered lucky of he was even available to them when it is their turn to pick. Many predictions have Porter Jr. long gone before the Steelers’ make their first pick in the 3-day selection process.
Either way, if he is there, Pittsburgh’s history suggests the Steelers will take the legacy player, but it isn’t just because his dad played in the NFL for the Steelers, but because Porter Jr. got to blaze his own trail to get to the NFL.