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Steelers Porter steamed about sideline spill

Thursday, January 09, 2003

By Gerry Dulac, Post-Gazette Sports Writer

Joey Porter was burning mad over an incident in the Steelers' regular-season loss in Tennessee, and he wasn't crying over spilled milk. More like hot coffee. Or chicken broth.

Joey Porter scoops up a fumble vs. Tennessee in November. (Peter Diana, Post-Gazette)

Porter accused Titans strength and conditioning coach Steve Watterson yesterday of pouring hot coffee on him after he tackled quarterback Steve McNair out of bounds in the Steelers' 31-23 loss in Nashville, Tenn.

Watterson said he had a cup of hot chicken broth in his hand when a sideline scrum developed between Titans and Steelers players. Watterson said the broth spilled during the shoving match, but denied throwing it on Porter.

"I tackled Steve McNair before he went out of bounds, and as I tackled him and was going out of bounds that little bald-headed guy came over and threw some coffee on me and thought he was slick about it," said Porter, a Pro Bowl linebacker. "He threw coffee on me and handed the cup to a player. I got it on tape. I seen it on tape."

Porter said he didn't say anything about the incident after the Nov. 17 game because it would have appeared as if he were a sore loser. But he brought it up yesterday in the Steelers' locker room, and he wasn't happy about it.

"What am I supposed to do?" Porter said. "Cry about it and make it seem like a sore loser? I'm going to cry because he poured coffee on me and try to sue him and all that stuff? I sucked it up, hoping we get to play them again."

Porter gets his wish because the Steelers play the Titans in an AFC divisional playoff game Saturday.

"He tried to burn me," Porter said. "Thing about it is, it's not that he did it; he tried to be slick about it. He tried to throw coffee on me and pass the cup to another player. But the eye in the sky [camera] caught all of it.

"I could have called the league and tried to make him lose his job over something like that, because he really tried to hurt me, tried to burn me. I don't worry about it. I can take that. Coffee's not going to kill me. Now, if it was acid or something ... it's a whole different story.

"I can handle coffee. It was cold that day, anyway."

Watterson said he did not throw the broth on Porter.

"Absolutely not. I'll be honest with you, if you go back and try to look at the film or whatever, I was in a crowd of people. If I'm being bumped around and it got on him that's terrible. I had no idea until the next day when the guys were kind of giving it to me, I said, 'What are you talking about?'

"That was obviously Joey's position, but obviously there was no intent there."

Watterson said one of his duties is to make sure the players along the sideline stand far enough back from the field of play. He said he was merely doing his job when Porter started yelling at him.

"I feel badly that he feels badly about it," Watterson said. "I never understood why he was directing his anger at me when this whole situation went on. I was going in, just as my job as the get-back coach, to make sure a potential situation didn't happen ... going to clear everybody out, and all of a sudden he got angry at me.

"If he thought I did something to distract him, I'm very sorry because that's not something I would do -- interfere with the players."

Porter said he was not looking to retaliate, should he find himself involved in a play along the Titans' sideline.

"We're not in the pouring coffee business," Porter said.

Gerry Dulac can be reached at gdulac@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1466.

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