DETROIT – Joey Porter continued his verbal onslaught of Seattle Seahawks tight end Jerramy Stevens on Thursday, and seemed to enjoy his hour-long appearance at the podium in the scheduled press conference outside his team's hotel.
The Pittsburgh Steelers' outside linebacker raged against Stevens to the delight of a mob of reporters and the NFL Network, which televised the barrage in its entirety.
"This is his fourth year in the league and you have never heard anything about him until right now," said Porter, who apparently hadn't heard of Stevens's notorious past.
In June of 1998, Stevens was charged with two counts of assault for a fight at a park in Olympia, Washington. Stevens was initially charged with hitting a man with a baseball bat and kicking him in the face, breaking his jaw. Stevens pled guilty to kicking the man, and his friend was charged with using the bat.
Also in the summer of 1998, Stevens spent three weeks in jail after testing positive for THC -- the active ingredient in marijuana -- during a court-appointed drug test.
In June of 2000, Stevens was arrested at his home by a six-member S.W.A.T. team on suspicion of drugging a 19-year-old freshman at a University of Washington fraternity party and raping her in an alley. No criminal charges were filed and the woman's civil suit was dropped in December, 2004.
In May of 2001, Stevens crashed into a retirement home and was charged with hit-and-run and DUI. According to the police report, Stevens's vehicle traveled over landscaping rocks, shrubs and into the outside wall of a 92-year-old woman. The impact knocked a dresser onto the sleeping woman, who escaped unharmed. The 6-foot-7, 260-pound Stevens was placed on two years probation and ordered to serve 240 hours of community service, which included picking up litter along the side of the highway.
Stevens was drafted by the Seahawks with the 28th pick of the 2002 draft amid heavy criticism, which increased after Stevens violated his probation on April 3, 2003. He was pulled over by police for rolling through a stop sign and police found two half-empty champagne bottles in his vehicle. He was charged with DUI and sentenced to five days in jail and 40 hours of community service. The Seahawks also confirmed at the time that Stevens had been charged with six other driving offenses since he'd been with the team in that one year.
In an interview prior to this football season, Stevens told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer that after abstaining from alcohol for two years, he has resumed drinking "a beer now and then."
Stevens had lost his starting job to Itula Mili in 2004, but got it back early this season when Mili was sidelined with an intestinal disorder. Stevens finished the season with a career-high 45 catches and five touchdowns.
KREIDER, KIRSCHKE OUT AGAIN
Kirschke has been bothered by his injury for several weeks. Kreider injured his knee against Denver and aggravated it last week in practice. Kreider told reporters Thursday morning that he'll play in the game.
"They're both day to day," Steelers coach Bill Cowher said after practice. "Hopefully they'll work (Friday)."
Before practice, Cowher praised his fullback for doing "all the dirty work. He's the guy who we give the ball to once a month and he's a guy who's out there blocking linebackers and defensive linemen.
"He's had an outstanding year. Danny is a true fullback in every sense of the word. He's like an offensive lineman in the backfield."
The Steelers practiced in shoulder pads, helmets and shorts Thursday and Cowher was satisfied with the 90-minute session.
"It was a good practice," he said. "We just tried to cover all the bases. I think we looked good."
According to Chris Colston, who's the only reporter allowed to watch practice at the Pontiac Silverdome, three Steelers – quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, wide receiver Hines Ward and running back Jerome Bettis – engaged in a skills contest. The three players stood on the sideline near the goal line and tried to hit the crossbar with the ball.
"Luckily for Steelers fans," Colston wrote in his pool report, "Roethlisberger won the competition."
"The guys are loose," said Cowher. "They're getting themselves ready to play the game. It's business as usual. It's a loose group of guys. They know when to turn it on and turn it off. That's the way it's been all year. They know when it's time to work, but they enjoy competing with one another."
MA BETTIS'S FEAST
Gladys Bettis had the boys over for a feast Tuesday night. Over 40 players showed up and "there was nothing but empty plates when we left," said her famous son Jerome.
The players were treated to turkey, ham, roast beef, macaroni and cheese, dressing and yams. "They don't call me the bus because I pass the plate," said Bettis. "It was a good meal."
It was more than a meal. It was a bonding experience for the Steelers.
"It made me feel like you were with your high-school football team at your Friday night meals," said quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. "Everyone was laughing, joking, having fun. It was really something special. Everyone just kind of sat there as the night went on and just went, ‘wow, this is a special team.' It was a special opportunity and it was great to be able to do that and I think that we are a very special and close team."
After the meal, several players attended a Detroit Pistons basketball game.
"You try to avoid going out at night," said Bettis. "You want to do something, but you don't necessarily want to go to a club or go out and be out too late, so this was a pleasant diversion."
PEAKING TOO EARLY?
The Seahawks had a bye week to open the playoffs, and they sound as if this past bye week is making them a bit anxious. Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck said as much after he was asked if he was tired of the media.
"It's not so much the media," Hasselbeck said. "I think it's just the amount of time. We prepared to play this game as if it was on Sunday but we're not going to play this game until the next Sunday. I think we're all just kind of ready."
"Guys are getting a little antsy because of the bye week," said wide receiver Bobby Engram. "We're ready to get out there and play a little bit, but at the same time we need to pace ourselves, take it slow and just be ready to peak on Sunday."
CONCERN ABOUT SUPER BALL
Hasselbeck expressed concern about the footballs that will be used in the Super Bowl after he was warned by former players.
That was the No. 1 thing they all said to me: ‘Hey, get ready to throw really crappy balls because they're bad,'" Hasselbeck said. "They're brand new and they cycle in a bunch because they want to give them away to different people. That's unfortunate because in the biggest game of your life you want to play with the balls you've been playing with all season."