There was so much goodness in our rollicking Chris Kluwe live chat from the other night that it almost seems unfair to single out just one of Kluwe's responses. But one answer in particular caught my eye and demanded some additional details:
Joey Porter is the only person on my jerk list, because he's a frothing dingleberry.
Eight years in the NFL, and Kluwe only has one guy on his "jerk list"? What the hell could Porter have done to him to make Kluwe feel that way? With Porter formally retiring as a Steeler tonight—is that even necessary, by the way?—I put the question to Kluwe via email this afternoon. He quickly wrote back to tell the whole story:
So here's my Joey Porter story. My rookie year in Week 11 or 12 we were playing the Lions and I ended up tearing my ACL in my kicking leg in the second quarter, and then almost breaking my ankle in the third quarter when a guy dove in on a punt, missed the ball and landed right on my plant leg. Was out for the next game because I couldn't walk (they brought Darren Bennet back in to punt, I think it was against the Rams but not totally sure) and the week after that we played the Steelers (I didn't know I had a torn ACL at the time because the former team doctors and training staff told me it was just "damaged"). So here I am warming up before the game, trying to figure out how I'm going to kick the ball with no plant foot and no leg snap in my kicking leg, and still a rookie so absolutely determined that there's no way in hell I'm coming off the field and letting someone else take my job.
Enter Joey Porter. Apparently he had this thing where he would claim the entire half of the field the Steelers were warming up on and harass anyone on the opposing team that came across the 50 (the NFL rules are that each team gets to the 45-yard line to warm up with the intervening 10 yards as a buffer zone, in reality the punters and kickers still use this space because we simply don't have enough room to warm up otherwise and no one cares). So I'm finishing up my warmups, hitting plus 50s from their 45, and he comes wandering over and starts barking "I need my 50, I need my 50." At this point their team is stretching on the 30-yard line, so I give him my best "What the fuck kind of mouth breather are you?" look and continue warming up. He then posts up right behind me, pretends like he's stretching, and starts bumping me as I'm punting.
Now Darren Bennet was still on the team but hadn't dressed for the game, as it was a gameday decision on whether or not I'd be able to punt, so he's sitting on the bench in warmups talking to a couple people. Once Joey starts pulling his shit Darren comes flying off the bench, gets up in Joey's face and starts shoving him back; I don't know if you ever saw Darren in person but he's a big guy and isn't afraid to level someone. I'm kind of just staring now because I have no idea what's going on (as well as currently possessing zero functional lower limbs), and then a couple of their dudes come flying in, a couple of our dudes come flying in, and there's a minor fracas for several minutes until the refs get everyone separated. They then tell me I need to move over to my side of the field, which is completely too short for me to punt on, so I say "Fine, whatever," line up on the 30 facing the Steelers' side and start dropping punts over where their linebackers are trying to warm up, with a special emphasis on aiming at Joey. About six punts later the head ref comes over and tells me I need to scoot back, so I tell him "Nope, I'm on my side and I need to get ready for the game" and proceed to punt at the linebackers for their entire warmup session.
Long story short, Joey Porter's an asshole and I'm really sad I wasn't able to get him to roll an ankle or blow out a knee stepping on a loose ball. In my entire career he's the only person I've ever met that's been a total dickhead.
Addendum: Another team pretty notorious for screwing with punter warmups were the Cowboys under Wade Phillips; they'd come out to stretch like an hour and a half before the game (which is right in the middle of the kicker/punter warmup time) and cover the entire half of their field so you couldn't use it. Every time they did, I'd just start launching balls into their stretch lines. I don't know if they still do it, but fuck 'em if they can't show some common courtesy.