Joey Porter has led some fierce, hard-hitting defenses over the years, and it just so happens that Porter is one of the most vocal players in the National Football League. And so when the bounty scandal punishments were handed down from the league office this week, Porter naturally became a go-to voice on big hits and the tangible and intangible incentives that might come with them.
Joey Porter joined 790 The Zone in Atlanta to talk bounties. He was asked if he’d experienced anything like what took place in New Orleans between 2009 and 2011, and also weighed in on the severity of the penalties delivered from the league, as well as the general direction that commissioner Roger Goodell is taking professional football in. And of course, no NFL conversation could be complete without touching on Tim Tebow.
On his familiarity with bounties from his experience as an NFL player:
“We just played football aggressively because the way we was looking at it is the more plays you get the bigger check you’re gonna get. So you’re gonna play hard for all kinds of reasons. You’re gonna play hard because you wanna win a championship. You’re gonna play hard because you wanna be noticed as a good player. We had little side pots on who gets the first sack or stuff like that but never been a part of anything to where a bounty was put on a guy like, ‘Here, this is the target this week and we’re gonna hand you this check. We’re all gonna chip in and whoever knocks this guy out or gets him out of the game…’ It just never really got that serious for us to do anything like that. I just think the guys that I played with over 13 years, we wanted to play ferocious defense anyway. We just wanted to get after the quarterback no matter what team we played. And with the rules changed in the last few years, you just know not to take that last shot anyway because you’re gonna get the FedEx. So I didn’t understand it. I never knew that a coach would promote it like the way they did. I feel bad for Sean Payton and the Saints for the situation that they’re in right now, but no I’ve never been a part of any bounties.”
On if he thinks the punishment was justified:
“You know what? And people have their comments on Roger Goodell, but you’ve gotta say that the guy is persistent. And for him to do that to a coach, that’s tough. I didn’t see it coming. I knew something was gonna happen. Didn’t think he would get suspended for a whole year and lose $7.5 million. That was the biggest blow. I knew some guys were (going to) get in trouble, because I could just tell when you keep talking about it, something’s gotta happen. But never seen that coming. I didn’t think the penalty would be that harsh, but by him making that penalty, you can’t pay a guy $100 to make a tackle no more. You won’t have nothing going on — guys are gonna play football and that is it.”
On the direction Goodell is taking the NFL in as far as cracking down on violent hits and hits on quarterbacks:
“It’s now and I can honestly say by, 17 it’ll be touching the quarterback. If you touch him you’ve gotta say he’s down. Because you can’t touch ‘em guys anymore. I’ve had chances to hit quarterbacks like right as they’re throwing the ball, but that’s considered a late hit. Like if the quarterback had the ball in his hand and you hit him, and you’ll still get that FedEx. So a lot of those plays, I’d just back off just because I don’t have an extra $20,000 just to be giving you for doing my job and hitting the quarterback. You know, back in the day when I first came in the league, that’s what you’re supposed to do. Even when you don’t make the sack on the quarterback, you should get credit for that pressure.
Now I don’t even want the pressure because the pressure might be a late hit. You see what I’m saying? There’s so much grey area. I remember one game watching the game, the guy was trying to make a sack and he touched Peyton Manning’s helmet. And I was just like, ‘You’re really gonna call that? You’re really gonna call that?’ You see how far they’ve gone with it. It’s definitely getting to a situation to where they wanna protect their stars, and if you’re a star quarterback, the Peyton Manning now with him coming back with the injury, you better not breathe on him the wrong way.”
On his comments that bringing in Tim Tebow is about ticket sales:
“He’s gonna go out there and do what Tim does. I think the way they use him is gonna be different than the way they used him in Denver. He’s not gonna be a starter, he’s gonna be a guy that comes up. I listened to the conference yesterday, the news conference, and they said they’re gonna use him in third-down situations, have a couple packages for him. First of all, I’m not one of those Tim Tebow haters. I mean, the guy is doing what he do to survive in the league and make money for his family. And I’m all for the guy, but you ask me about playing quarterback in this level of football. My starting quarterback has to have qualities of being able to have a 300-yard passing game. I’m gonna need my starting quarterback to have at least four 300-yard games throughout the season with a gang of 250 games.
You gotta just give me 200 just because you started the game and have three or four 300-yard games. And if you watch Tim Tebow, honestly they haven’t used him to put him to be able to do that — he hasn’t proved that he can go out there and throw for 3,500, 4,000 yards. I don’t think he’s gonna be a quarterback that does that. He’s gonna be that guy that does all the other things: get the guys fired up, lead them in the right direction. Because you see a guy that fights that hard you have to fight along with him. I think that’s what he did in Denver. He fought so much, the guys would see him put everything on the line, they had to do the same. They had to match his intensity. So I think he’s good for that. So I don’t wanna sit up here and make it seem like I’m knocking Tim Tebow. I’m happy for Tim Tebow, I want him to have a long career as I did. But at the same time I’m just going to be honest: I don’t see him being a passing quarterback like that, because if he was so great they wouldn’t have been so willing to get him out of Denver.”