So everyone walked away.">
So everyone walked away.">

Smith, Polamalu quiet warriors

<b>PITTSBURGH - </b> Joey Porter wouldn't talk to reporters yesterday.<br><br> "Unless it's about football," he said.<br><br> So everyone walked away.

For one of the few times in his football career, Porter remained quiet. But it's unlikely that his latest pre-game incident, which led to his ejection before the Cleveland game, will slow down his torrents on Sundays -- at least on the field.

Trash talking is important for Porter, but to some members of the Steelers' defense, trash-talking is a waste of time and energy.

Take Aaron Smith. The big, quiet defensive end is in the middle of perhaps his best pro season. He has six sacks and only eight NFL players have more. Smith also has two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.

Against Cleveland, Smith had a sack, forced a fumble and just about came away with a fumble recovery. His coach had high praise a few days later.

"Aaron Smith," said Bill Cowher, "is one of the best defensive ends in the game. When you watch this guy, he never comes off the field. It takes two people to block him. If there is one guy, he's usually two or three yards in the backfield. The guy can rush the quarterback and has made a lot of plays for us. He is having a big time year."

Cowher said it Tuesday. Smith was asked Wednesday if he'd heard the comments.

"No. I did not," he said, "And I don't want to hear them."

Smith will instead remain focused on playing well. He had a career-high eight sacks in 2001 and he's three-fourths of the way there after nine games this season.

Is he looking at a career year?

"We'll see what happens. The year's still young," Smith said. "I don't think I'm playing that much different than I have in the past. I've just had more opportunities to make plays, and I've done that."

Has he made enough of them to begin thinking about his first Pro Bowl?

"Yeah. I think you do," he said. "But the chances of me making it, being from Pittsburgh with our 3-4 scheme, I don't think are very good."

Smith was told he has to toot his own a bit.

"That's not me," he said. "Maybe I should, but I don't know. That's just not me. I was always told that's just not how you act."

Which brings us to today's topic: In light of Porter's string of pre-game problems, should players take a quieter approach to football?

"I think the guys that tend to talk the most get more publicity from the press," Smith said. "Those are the ones you guys want to hear about. But there are a lot of guys out there who don't say nothing and actually get along, get along just fine.

"Kimo (von Oelhoffen) doesn't talk trash. (Casey) (Hampton) really doesn't talk much. Willie Williams doesn't say anything out there. Troy (Polamalu) doesn't ever say anything to anybody. Troy will hit you and knock you into tomorrow and then smile at you and help you back up."

At Cleveland, after intercepting his second pass, Polamalu responded to a fan's middle finger by blowing him a kiss.

"Some guys take things way too seriously," Polamalu said. "Whether it's our fans or whether it's their fans, it's blatantly rude and it's nice to overcome some of that selfishness, or evil, whatever you want to call it, with love. It was just kind of a fun gesture."

Polamalu, like Smith, is another quiet warrior in the old-school mode. But Polamalu is more open with his spirituality towards the game, a game that's physical nature seems to be at odds with his quiet approach.

"See, I think that's a stereotype about football players, that they all are loud," Polamalu said. "I would say everybody's intense. The fact that they're loud and always trying to be the center of attention, I think that's the stereotype of football players. I don't see why anybody has to be that way to be a football player, rather than just be humble, be quiet and go about your business."

He's proof that it works. In his second season, Polamalu has been playing at a Pro Bowl level, as has Smith. And you won't hear about it from either one of them. Unless you ask nicely.

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