One of the most controversial and beloved players of the Pittsburgh Steelers early 2000’s teams is returning to his old stomping grounds.
The team announced on Tuesday that four-time Pro Bowl OLB Joey Porter has been hired as a defensive assistant coach. The Super Bowl XL champion will help mentor young outside linebackers in the 3-4 scheme of Defensive Coordinator Dick LeBeau.
“We are excited about having Joey back with the Steelers family. Joey spent a number of years with Pittsburgh as a player, and now he is back to assist the coaching staff. We look forward to his efforts and contributions.” stated head coach Mike Tomlin to NFL.com.*
Porter was drafted by the Steelers in the third round of the 1999 NFL Draft out of Colorado State. He made the transition from defensive lineman to outside linebacker once arriving in Pittsburgh, experience that will help him in training other young players who come into the fold in a similar fashion. In 2000, Porter established himself as one of the most feared linebackers in the game, posting 10.5 sacks and combining with fellow OLB Jason Gildon to tie the then-franchise record of 24 sacks in a season.
During his Steelers career Porter tallied 60 sacks and 10 interceptions, and his attitude helped mold the Steelers defense into one of the most feared squads in the league. En route to Super Bowl XL, Porter had one of his biggest games for the franchise against the top-seeded Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Divisional round. Clinging to a 21-18 lead with 2:31 left in the fourth quarter, the Steelers needed to stop the prolific Peyton Manning-led Colts offense. Porter took matters into his own hands, sacking Manning on a 2nd and eight play, and then breaking through once again on fourth down to end the threat. In the three road playoff games leading up the Super Bowl, Porter totaled 3.5 sacks.
The Steelers cut ties with Porter following the 2006 season. He went on to play five more seasons, three with the Miami Dolphins and two with the Arizona Cardinals. In 2008, he led the AFC with 17.5 sacks in helping the Dolphins morph from a 1-15 team into an 11-5 AFC East champion. After an injury-plagued 2011 season with the Cardinals, Porter announced he would retire from active play. He reached out to Steelers ownership and requested a one-day contract with the team so that he could “have the honor” of retiring as a Pittsburgh Steeler. On August 31, 2012, Porter officially retired as a member of the Steelers during a celebration at the team training camp in Latrobe, PA.
Joey Porter was named to both the Pittsburgh Steelers All-Time team and the NFL 2000s Team of the Decade. He spent 2013 as an assistant defensive coach with his alma mater Colorado State. He now returns to where his professional career began and the city where he experienced his greatest success.