Porter had a 10-minute conference call with the New England media Wednesday afternoon, and the Miami Dolphins linebacker made it clear that his feelings have not changed toward the Patriots.
"You know they don't like me," Porter said about the Patriots. "Let's be honest. They don't like me, and that's fair. I don't like them, and that's fair. It's not like there's a divorce happening. We never really were married anyway."
In the past, Porter has been outspoken about the Patriots' "Spygate" scandal and claims it cost his former team, the Pittsburgh Steelers, several chances at the Super Bowl. This is Porter's third season with the Dolphins, who visit Gillette Stadium on Sunday.
"My feeling toward New England goes back further," Porter said. "It goes back to my Pittsburgh days. I felt a certain way after some things came out, way back when. In Pittsburgh, some AFC championships I lost to them a couple times. Then to come to figure out some months later why we lost, so yeah, I have a natural hate for them, period. That's just going to be with me forever, so that's not ever going to change."
The Dolphins are 3-4 through their first seven games for the second consecutive season. The defending AFC East champions are two games behind the Patriots, though, and Sunday's game is a must-win for Miami to have a realistic chance to win its second division title in a row.
Even though the Patriots are currently perched atop the AFC East and won the division crown five consecutive times before the Dolphins took it last season (the two teams had identical 11-5 records, but the Dolphins won a tiebreaker), Porter said the Dolphins are the class of the division until they get knocked off. The Patriots, at least publicly, agree.
"The division goes through the last champion, period," Porter said. "The last champion was the Miami Dolphins. We have the [division] championship. Until we lose it, it's ours to lose. You just can't crown the champion because they used to be the champion back in the day. That hardly makes any sense. It's what you did the last year. You're never judged off of what you did a couple of years ago. It's what you're doing now. Last year, we were the champs."
Porter's bark matched his bite in 2008, when he had a career-high 17.5 sacks, but his statistical production has slowed in 2009. He has 12 tackles and 2.5 sacks this season.
Apparently, Porter's reputation has not recessed, though. A Sports Illustrated poll released Wednesday declared Porter one of the dirtiest players in the NFL. The magazine polled 296 players in September, and Porter received 6.0 percent of the vote, tying him with Washington Redskins defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth for second. Porter's former teammate, Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward, topped the list with 11.6 percent of the vote.
"I don't know what you consider dirty," Porter said. "I don't have a lot of personal fouls, so I don't know what dirty is. I'm fine with the meanest and toughest, if that's how they feel. But dirty is a different category. I don't hit people late and stuff like that. I don't know. I guess it's something they came up with and voted me, so it doesn't really make me or break me."
Porter thought he might have been the victim of a popularity contest.
"I've got a lot of people that don't like me, but that's fair to say," Porter said. "I don't like a lot of people, either. It works both ways. It's nothing that's going to change my every day, putting me in that poll — one, two, five, wherever they [rank] me at — but obviously I'm on somebody's mind, though, so that's cool."
Porter might tick off a lot — if not all — of his opponents with his trash talk, but he has never hid from his reputation. He is blunt and doesn't care about anyone outside of his locker room, and his teammates love him for that. Plus, he always goes full tilt on the field, and Sunday will be no different.
"They're full powered," Porter said of the Patriots, who have quarterback Tom Brady back this season. "They've got all their guns and all their weapons, so we've got all our guns and all our weapons here, too. That makes for a good fight."
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