Tomlin Simultaneously Stays, Reverses Course with Joey Porter Hire

Steelers Nation was taken by surprise today when Mike Tomlin announced that former standout outside linebacker Joey Porter was returning to Pittsburgh as a defensive assistant. Both Steelers fans and the press are hailing the move.

Neal Coolong of Behind the Steel Curtain summarized it the best observing that Porter’s Yang could serve as an effective counter weight to the Yin that otherwise dominates the temperament of the defensive staff. Joey Porter of course manned the right outside linebacker slot for the Steelers from 1999 to 2006, and gained a well-deserved reputation for “stirring up the pot.”

The Porter hiring is also a curious one, of sorts.

  • In a single move Mike Tomlin manages to simultaneously maintain continuity while reversing course.

With Jerry Olsavsky and Carnell Lake both on staff, Tomlin continues the trend of hiring ex-Steelers to coach on his staff. But bringing Porter back also represents an about face of sorts. One of Tomlin’s first moves as head coach was to cut Joey Porter in favor of James Harrison.

While the move was motivated in part by salary cap concerns, Porter had angrily and publically called out Ben Roethlisberger during the ’06 Super Bowl Hangover, and word was that Tomlin wanted no one in the locker room undermining Roethlisberger.

LeBeau Coaching Tree 

Porter is of course a former player of Dick LeBeau, and his ascension to the NFL coaching ranks also gives another branch to the Dick LeBeau Coaching Tree another branch. The make up of the tree has shifted somewhat since the term was coined here, but it nonetheless represents another case of a player mentored by LeBeau maturing into a coach.

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