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Steelers Porter denies ESPN report

Thursday, September 11, 2003

By Ed Bouchette, Post-Gazette Sports Writer

Steelers linebacker Joey Porter charged yesterday that ESPN's Chris Mortensen was wrong in reporting that Porter knocked on the Baltimore Ravens' team bus after the game Sunday to call linebacker Ray Lewis out.

"Chris Mortensen on ESPN! I cannot believe that," Porter said of the report broadcast Monday night before the Philadelphia-Tampa Bay game.

"They're trying to make me to be the super-thug bad guy. I'm getting shot one week and next week I'm trying to fight Ray Lewis! I'm knocking on his bus door! And Art Modell, of all people, had to break us up! Like, if we were really going to fight, is he going to break us up? I can't believe they told that story on TV like that, painting a terrible, bad picture of me."

Mortensen said Lewis came off the bus and Modell's son, David, actually had to step between the players.

But Porter said nothing of the sort happened.

He said Lewis saw him and Baltimore cornerback Corey Fuller talking, got off the bus and the two exchanged words, but they were no closer than 50 feet away.

"I didn't go to the bus," Porter said. "I didn't go anywhere. I was just waiting for my bus. Words were exchanged and whatnot, sore-loser- type stuff. ... How could we fight if I'm way over here waiting for our shuttle and his bus is over there; we're talking about 50 feet away. ... Anybody who really saw it couldn't have told Chris Mortensen the story he told, it makes no sense.

"You have security protecting the buses, so you can't just come up to anybody's bus anyway. Everybody's calling me, like just trying to paint me out to be this bad guy. Nothing I could do about it; they already told the story.

"Now the rest of the people around the league think, 'Joey got shot one week and he's ready to fight the next week, man, he's a bad guy, he's a tough guy, isn't he?' It didn't happen anything like that."

In the meantime, Porter ran yesterday and said he felt good. He's listed as doubtful for the game Sunday in Kansas City.

"I lost my conditioning," he said. "You can't sit out 12 days without running and all that stuff you put in camp and before camp, it's tough. I lost 8 pounds."

He said he feels good and the wound in his thigh, where a 9 mm bullet was removed, feels more like a bruise now.

"I'll take it as if I was coming off any injury. You play when you feel like you can play. I wouldn't play if I didn't feel good."

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