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Super Bowl war of words begins

Associated Press

Pontiac, Mich. — Steelers linebacker Joey Porter minded his manners and said nothing derogatory about the Seahawks during his first two days at the Super Bowl. That changed Wednesday after Seattle tight end Jerramy Stevens effectively guaranteed a victory.

Porter said Stevens's remarks were all he needed to get him going for the Super Bowl.

"I've been asleep all week but now I got woke up," Porter said Wednesday. "I've got my first taste of blood and now I'm thirsty for more. Until now, it was 'Watch what I say,' 'I can't say this,' 'I can't say that,' 'Don't do anything silly,' but I'm ready now.

"You look for the guys that say something that aren't supposed to say nothing, and I feel like he definitely was out of pocket to say what he said," Porter said. "I'm going to make sure he owns up to those words."

Porter was agitated about Stevens's comments Tuesday regarding Steelers star Jerome Bettis' much-publicized return to his hometown of Detroit to try to win a Super Bowl in what likely is his final season.

"It's a heartwarming story and all that, but it will be a sad day when he leaves without that trophy," said Stevens, who said later he wasn't guaranteeing a victory but was only saying what he felt.

Stevens also said Porter will have a difficult time whenever he is matched up with Seahawks All-Pro tackle Walter Jones.

"He had a huge game in the AFC championship game coming off the edge on the blitz," Stevens said of Porter. "I don't think he is going to have such an easy day against Walt, though."

Porter said Stevens' remarks made it even easier to get himself ready to play in his first Super Bowl.

"He's too soft to say something like that," Porter said. "He's going to have the opportunity to back up his words. I'm going to have the opportunity to back up my words. So it's something I'm looking forward to and I'm ready to get going."

Porter also called Stevens "a first-round bust who barely made some plays this season." He also said a player of Stevens's stature "has a lot of nerve" to say what he said about Bettis.

Porter and Stevens had productive seasons. Porter had 10-1/2 sacks in the regular season and has three more in the playoffs. Stevens had 45 catches and five touchdowns during the season and has eight catches and another TD in two playoff games.

Porter's outburst was the latest in a series of strong or inflammatory comments by him during these NFL playoffs.

He riled up the Colts during the divisional round by saying they relied on tricks and wouldn't play smashmouth football, then accused the NFL officiating crew of cheating the Steelers during their 21-18 upset of the Colts. He was not fined for those remarks.

Steelers coach Bill Cowher subsequently cautioned Porter and other players about making comments that opposing teams might use for motivation. Cowher also called Porter's officiating comments "ridiculous," and Porter subsequently had little to say before Pittsburgh's 34-17 victory over Denver in the AFC championship game.

And what might Cowher think of these comments?

"I do what I have do to get myself going and he likes to see me going," Porter said. "He knows once I get going, he knows what kind of player he's going to get. That's going to make me play at a high level."

Steelers players also were cautioned before the Super Bowl about not saying anything that the Seahawks could use for motivation, but Porter didn't seem to care.

"When a guy says something who lines up in front of me on every play, I have to like that," Porter said. "He has to see me. There's no way he can hide from me. We have to meet — over and over and over. ... I'll remind him every time I put him on his back."

Stevens found Porter's comments amusing.

"I think that will make it more exciting. That fuels the fire," Stevens said. "He's an up-tempo guy and playing that way is why football is fun."

Then, reflecting on what Porter said, he added, "He said I'll be on my back?"

Stevens flashed a smile.

"We'll see."

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